St. Mary’s has a vibrant and extremely active religious education program for the children of the parish. The Sunday School was re-started by several parish parents who saw the need in the spring of 2004. It is a great resource for the St. Mary’s community, attracting new families to our church. Today the teaching staff is drawn from at least half a dozen volunteers. On any given Sunday, two teachers lead between four and fifteen
(usually between eight and twelve, with that number steadily increasing) children in prayer and a gospel-based lesson plan. The Sunday School schedule loosely follows the academic year and is in session from the first Sunday after Labor Day until the Sunday before Memorial Day. Classes are held during the first part of the 11:00 a.m. Sunday Eucharist, with the children joining the entire congregation for communion.
Our Sunday School makes use of the Seasons of the Spirit multi-age curriculum. Each Sunday School class begins with a brief, albeit important, prayer time. Teachers and pupils give God thanks and ask God’s help in their lives as they share the previous week’s trials and tribulations. This is followed by a more formal prayer period when we recite the Lord’s Prayer followed by the singing of a brief and simple hymn, e.g., “Old 100th – Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” They have been singing a Spanish “Alleluia.” After a snack, pupils are then sometimes separated by age and desire to read. The day’s lessons are read and discussed with a particular focus on how the children can relate it to their own experiences. Pupils then engage in a “response,” such as art, drama, puzzle solving and discussion that is uniquely appropriate for that Sunday’s lesson.
In the past, notable projects included a play about Jesus summoning the fishermen to follow him and the creation of an aisle runner that was used during a baptism. After working on the project, the children are then led into the church to partake in the Eucharist. Children of the parish, under the guidance of the Sunday School teachers, perform a nativity play (with characters such as Angel Lady Gaga) at the end of the fall semester. In addition, a special children’s mass is celebrated at the end of the spring semester to signal the end of the Sunday School year. The Sunday School also raises funds for St. Mary’s mission work with the Hogar de Niñas girls’ home in Panama. The fundraising takes the form of individual donations from children and income from bake sales. The children also sell raffle tickets for handmade baskets made in Panama. These monies have covered supplemental food, school supplies and medicine for the girls at the home.