Guidelines for religious education on the elementary level are undergoing review and revision. Parishes and schools are continuing to use and to adapt, as needed, the 1999 Christian Formation Guidelines. Both parishes and schools use textbooks approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops because they are consistent with the teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The current USCCB conformity list can be found here. Religious education programs for the pre-kindergarten student through eighth grade vary according to the structure and timetable allotted to the program.
Parish programs offer at least 30 hours of religious instruction per school year. These are supplemented by devotional activities (rosary, May crowning, Stations of the Cross, blessings of animals on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, etc.). Many religious education programs are conducted on Sunday mornings, before and/or after parish Masses. Others are conducted on weekday afternoons and evenings. Catholic school programs include daily prayer, daily religion classes, and special devotional activities. There are regular school Masses, frequently on a weekly basis.
Occasionally, parents wish to home school their children for religious education. This is permitted in the diocese when it is done under the guidance and approval of the parish’s pastor or administrator and the director or coordinator of religious education. It is diocesan policy that children and youth receiving their religious education at home participate in the sacramental preparation programs offered in their parishes with other religious education and Catholic school students.
Religious education is offered at some sites in languages other than English. The parish office can provide information where these exist. Children with special needs are incorporated into regular religious education programs as possible. Resources for the deaf, for autistic children, or for others with special needs are available in some deaneries.