Front of Church and Rectory June 2017

Confirmation Program Introduction

Introduction

My name is Roger Gullo, the Confirmation Director in the Religious Education Office of St. Mary Parish. I am a 53 year old lifelong Catholic and devoted disciple in the teachings of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. God our Father has blessed me and my loved ones with a healthy life; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was raised by loving and devoted Catholic parents; and am a brother to one brother and three sisters who I love dearly. I am a devoted and loving husband to my dear wife, Janice, of 26 years. We are parents of two boys, Christopher (22) and Cameron (18), each with their own special God given gifts and talents. We have resided in Franklin, and have been faithful members of St. Mary's parish, since 1996. I am a 22 year retired First Sergeant from the Army National Guard where I proudly served and developed many young men into leaders. I am the founder and owner of a project management consulting business for the past 16 years. Most rewardingly, I am a faithful catechist at St. Mary's. For the past 11 years, I have taught religious education for grades ranging from 7th to the 10th Grade. In all that I have experienced, and of who I am today, I give all the glory and praise to God our Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For all the blessings that I have received, nothing fills my heart more than my Faith and my Family.

Confirmation Program

Allow me now to spend some of your time discussing our Decision Point Program; the Fundamental Elements that will guide my delivery of this program; the Program Schedule including the Class Schedule and Parent Meetings; and the introduction of the Small Group Leader Positions that are key to this program. Your thorough review of this material will ensure you and your child are best prepared for a fulfilling and enlightening year. Please be sure to forward or print a copy to review with your young adult. 

Decision Point (brought to you by Dynamic Catholic Institute)

We will be using a new program with our Confirmation Candidates. This program is called, DECISION POINT, by Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic. Matthew Kelly is the author of the books, Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, and, Rediscover Catholicism, provided as gifts from Father Brian to parishioners 2 years ago during Advent and Lenten Season Masses. 

Following are some of the insights and remarks by Matthew Kelly and Dynamic Catholic about the DECISION POINT Confirmation Program - 

DECISION POINT is a Confirmation preparation program primarily designed for Catholics between the ages of twelve and eighteen. It has been designed to ignite a conversation about the genius of Catholicism between candidates and their parents, sponsors, catechists, teachers, peers, and priests. In fact the materials in the program are something that every Catholic should experience - not just teens preparing for Confirmation. 
Most young Catholics are disengaged. Engaging them is therefore the first step. Until they are engaged it doesn't matter how much information you download on them; they simply will not absorb it and make it their own. While presenting the Church's teachings faithfully is essential, it is also critically important that they be presented in ways that are engaging, accessible, and relevant.
It is our hope that this program will not only prepare young Catholics for the Sacrament of Confirmation in a dynamic way, but also teach and inspire them to respond and cooperate with God's grace in all the circumstances of their daily lives, long after their Confirmation has passed.

This is an amazing program. At the heart of it are seventy-two short films, which range in length from three to fifteen minutes and feature Matthew Kelly. The entire DECISION POINT program can be experienced in 4 ways by Confirmation Candidates, Parents and Sponsors:
1. Hard copies: A workbook will be provided for each individual Confirmation Candidate. Copies will be distributed at the Program Introduction Meeting to be attend by the parent(s) and guardian(s).
2. Online: The entire program is available online to anyone at any time at www.DynamicCatholic.com/Confirmation
3. E-mail: The program is also be available in an e-mail version, which will allow individuals to sign up and receive the program in bite-size portions each week. Perfect for parents and sponsors. Go to the link www.DynamicCatholic.com/confirmation/for-parents-and-sponsors to sign up on the first day of your child's class so you experience and engage in the program. ‚Äč
4. App: The seventy-two short films and bonus content are also available on an application for smart phones and tablets. Just search for "Decision Point" on your App Store.

The program was received very well in it's first first.  We are very excited to be offering the DECISION POINT Program to our nearly 400 9th and 10th Grade Catholic teens in it's second year. We hope they are also. 
 

Foundational Elements of the Program 

I will be delivering the new Confirmation Program to you and your Catholic teen based on three foundational elements.

  1. Parents, Sponsors and Families should experience this program - not just the teens preparing for Confirmation.
  2. Establish an environment for open dialogue and discussions. Young adults are hungry to make sense of life.
  3. Incorporate the life stories of parents and confirmed young adults into the meetings and sessions.

No. 1 - This program is not just for teens.  

In my introduction, I mentioned how this Confirmation Program is for you as well as your young adult. As a parent myself, just reading and preparing for the Decision Point Sessions last year made me a better version of myself. "Teaching to Learn" is so easy with these program materials. I want each of the parents to have the opportunity and similar experience to the one I had. In addition to the materials made available to you on-line, I hope to achieve this by holding two parent meetings and monthly email communications. I have realized that I will only have the teens for 12 sessions; just enough time to plant and sow the seeds in their discipleship. It will be the parents that will continue leading and influencing the Catholic teen as they transition from learning the Catholic faith to living the Catholic faith.  

No. 2 - Establish an environment for open dialogue and discussions lead by the young adults.  

I have noticed though my years of teaching Religious Education (and 22 years of soldiering) that participation in small group discussions is critical in getting young adults engaged in a topic. Teens especially felt more comfortable having open discussions with their peers and not a catechist or parent. I have also recognized that there are always leaders amongst a group of young adults; not afraid to voice their opinion or lead a group in a discussion. It is with these observations that I will be instituting Small Group Leader (SGL) positions in lieu of added additional adult facilitators.  

No. 3 - Incorporate the life stories of prior confirmed young adults into the sessions.  

To supplement and reinforce the Decision Point materials, I will bring in 2 - 4 "ordinary" young Catholic adults that have been confirmed to talk about living their "extraordinary" Catholic life. I will be soliciting these story tellers from parents and grandparents in the ministries and parish community. Their stories will be aligned with the Decision Point Session topics; with only 2 - 4 appearances each term. 


Program Schedule

Confirmation Candidates' Classes

Confirmation 1 and 2 will meet on six (6) Sunday nights with the choice of attending the Fall Session or Spring Session.  Registration for the Confirmation Program occurs in June - August every program year. If you have missed the registration period, please contact the Religious Education Office to Register. 

Fall Session: Classes held between October - December.
Spring Session: Classes held between March - May 

Confirmation 1 Class Time: 2:30 - 4:30 pm. Students and parents are highly encouraged to attend the 5:00 pm Mass after class. 
Confirmation 2 Class Time: 6:15 - 8:15 pm. Students and parents are highly encouraged to attend the 5:00 pm Mass before class. 

Parents' Meetings  (attended by all Parents, including Catholic High School Parents)

In executing on our Foundational Element No. 1 for the Confirmation program, Parents are required to attend two Meetings in the two year program. There will be one held for Confirmation 1 at the beginning of the program and a second one held for Confirmation 2 only at the end of the Program. Parents will be given two choices of dates, selecting the one that best fits their schedule.  

Program Introduction Meeting (1.5 hrs) 
For Confirmation 1 Parents only: Confirmation Workbooks will be handed out during this meeting along with a review of the Program Materials including Small Group Leader (SGL) positions and Works Hours.  

Confirmation: A New Beginning Meeting (1.5 hrs) 
For Confirmation 2 Parents only. Confirmation Preparation and Post Confirmation topics will be covered. 

A COPY OF THE SCHEDULE FOR THE CLASSES AND MEETINGS ARE PROVIDED ON THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION WEBPAGE (Side Bar) FOR EACH CONFIRMATION CLASS AND SESSION.  


Small Group Leaders 

Our Second Foundational Element of the Program is the institution of the Small Group Leader (SGL) position. The SGLs will lead their Small Group through the discussion questions, exercises, and report out to the Adult Session Facilitator (myself). I believe these peer discussions amongst themselves will help the Confirmation Candidates make sense of their life's journey and the genus of their Catholic faith. For their time and successful leadership of a group of approximately 10 Catholic teens, SGLs will receive credit toward their required 20 service hours. Teens volunteering for a SGL position will be required to attend a training session and sign a SGL Charter. 

Interest in this position will be gathered in the Confirmation 1 Program Introduction Parent Meeting. The SGL Training will be held before the beginning of each Session. Please discuss this exciting opportunity to develop leadership experience and skills with your teen. Being a SGL for one session (6 classes) will provide over 12 Service Hours. 


Closing 

I am highly anticipating the arrival of September again and the beginning of another year in this fantastic Confirmation Program. My spirit and soul is bursting with anticipation to what a great year of Confirmation Preparation this will be. It will be a great pleasure and honor to be working with you in educating and preparing your child for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
 
As I close this Program Introduction, I would like to thank you for your time reading this introduction. I hope I have informed you and provided insight into what to expect this year. I look forward to meeting you at the Program Introduction meeting; and receiving any feedback or comments that you may have. 

We are all so blessed to have our beautiful children in our lives. We can count on the Holy Spirit to continue guiding our lives with wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude and piety as we nurture our children into adulthood. Alleluia and Amen. 

Faithfully Yours in Jesus Christ, 
Roger Gullo
Confirmation Director Religious Education 
confirmation.director@stmarysfranklin.org
 

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