After a three week layoff, we got back to CCD business last Wednesday. We planned to continue our three-part lesson, with a faith assessment quiz, a video on saints and discussion of the Holy Spirit and Confirmation from the text Confirmed in the Spirit. Unfortunately, we could not get the audio to function with the classroom computer. Paula’s husband, John, labored over it for 15 minutes and couldn’t get it to budge. So we didn’t have a video.

Our faith assessment quiz was a fill-in-the-blanks quiz on the Commandments. Since we spent several class periods on this last year, we had the students complete this individually. Everyone pretty much had it down cold.  We also discussed the two greatest commandments as presented by Jesus.

You shall love your God with all your heart, mind and soul. (paraphrased)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

We discussed that a lot of people today seem to have trouble with the second one. We pointed out that Jesus did not say that you should love your neighbor, unless he or she …

…looks different from you.

…comes from a different country.

…does things you don’t agree with.

–and so on.

Jesus just said “Love your neighbor.”

As we got into the Confirmed in the Spirit text, we started by just allowing the students to flip through the pages to get an idea of what we would be covering. We then discussed the scripture verse at the top of page 2 in which Jesus told his apostles that he would be leaving them soon, but he would send the Spirit to be with them. We discussed the context of the passage. Jesus referred to an “advocate.” We discussed the various roles described by “advocate.” We also discussed that God, in the form of the Holy Spirit remains with us to be our advocate today.

We gave them a homework assignment. Before they were to go to bed Wednesday night, they were to say a sincere prayer to God, thanking him for protecting them through Hurricane Matthew.

This coming week’s faith assessment will focus on the Apostles’ Creed. I told them that before we broke on Wednesday. The Creed is in the back of their text, which they should have at home.

By the way, we have extra books, but it sure would be great if you would remind your child to bring their text back to class on Wednesday. That way they can mark it up, etc. and not worry about messing up more than one book.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, we are taking a three-prong approach to the material, at least for the first few weeks.

We opened by asking the students to break into groups of two or three and to complete this week’s Faith Assessment quiz. This week’s FA focused on our parish and diocese. If interested, you can see the quiz on the parish Web site.


We had an interesting discussion of the material.

We showed a short (7 minute) video on the life of Mother Theresa.

Then we moved into the Confirmation prep phase of the class by distributing the text and asking the students to spend a minute or two flipping through it. Since much of our Confirmation prep will involve discussions of the Holy Spirit, I thought it would be a good idea to make sure the students had a decent handle on just who the Holy Spirit is. As we went around the class asking for answers to “Just who or what is the Holy Spirit?” we received a variety of answers. Finally, I asked “OK, in just one word, who is the Holy Spirit?” and several students responded “God!” which, of course is correct.

We spent a little time discussing the Holy Trinity and the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How can there be one God, but three persons? I explained the Church calls this a mystery. As human beings, we are simply not smart enough to fully understand that mystery. However, I pointed out I had a couple of models to share, that are not exact explanations, but night circle the target enough to give them an idea.

The first was to point to themselves and the various parts that make up them. For example, they have a physical body that is them. They also have an intellect and personality — their likes, dislikes, sense of humor, and so on. That is also them, but it is different from their physical body. There is also their spirit or soul, which is distinct from their body and intellect/personality, but just as much a version of the same person.

My second example was to point to the roles each of us play in life. We are a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a friend, an athlete, a student, a musician, and so on. Each is a version of us. When we think of God as the creator of the universe, we are thinking of God the Father. When we think about God as our redeemer, we are thinking about God the Son. When we think about God as the deity who is present with us every day, who we pray to and who helps us, we are thinking of God the Holy Spirit. One God, but three different roles.

Again, emphasized these are not accurate explanations to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, just imperfect examples that might allow them to see a Trinity, but only one God.

We allowed the students to take their textbooks home with them. Please help them to remember to bring them back next week.

As I mentioned in the email I sent this morning, I am not sending next week’s Faith Assessment quiz. I jumped the gun on that. Next week’s exercise is on the Commandments, both the original ten from Exodus (Exodus 20 or 34) , and the two greatest commandments as described by Jesus. (Matthew 22:35-40) We spent two or three class periods in 5th grade discussing the Commandments, so I HOPE our students remember at least a little bit of it. In any case, if you would like to ask your child to take a few momements to review the Commandments in advance of next week’s class, that would be great.

Next week, we will send the Faith Assessment quiz home with our students for research in advance of the next class.

Again, sorry for taking so long to get this written and posted. It’s just been a busy week.

We kicked off the 6th grade CCD year with a good class last week. We have a small group right now, only six students, but I believe we will pick up an additional handful in the coming weeks.

Getting things started has been an interesting experience. Unlike our past 11 years of teaching 5th grade, our curriculum is not dictated or guided by the Sadlier (publishing company) text. Because 8th grade Confirmation takes place so early in the year at St. Peters, we will be starting initial Confirmation training. That also means we are feeling our way a little. For at least the first part of the year, we will be focusing our teaching in three main areas.

1.) Faith Assessment – This is a review of the basic tenets of the Catholic faith and the kinds of information each student should know before Confirmation. We will be taking it one bite at a time.  So each week, we will send home with each student a “quiz” or questionnaire. They should research the answers to the questions and return it the following week when we will discuss the material. For your information, the questions and answers can be found here.


However, we would greatly appreciate it if you would NOT simply direct your child to this site where the answers are right there to copy. If they have to do just a little work, like maybe a Google search or looking it up in the Confirmed in the Spirit text, it is more likely they may remember the material.

2.) Saints – We have been introducing our students to the concepts of saints, patron saints and picking a saint’s name for a Confirmation name. During most class sessions, we will show a short (usually around three minutes) video of some saints’ story.

3.) Confirmed in the Spirit – This is our working text for Confirmation prep. Since this might be helpful to the students in preparing their weekly Faith Assessment “homework,” we will send this home with them. Please, help your child to remember to bring it back to class with them on Wednesday.

And as we have done in the past several years, we will end each class by asking each student to tell us one thing they learned that night. A reasonable response will result in some reward, sometimes a cookie, sometimes a doo-dad (glow stick, pencil, prayer card) or whatever.

Welcome to 6th grade!

Good morning!

Sorry I have been a little delayed getting posted in a timely fashion this year. I’ll try to do better. Here is our introductory letter, which you should have seen already. I will be posting a summary of last week shortly.

Hello 6th grade CCD parents!

Mrs. Rudolphi and I are looking forward to teaching your child’s CCD class on Wednesday evenings. If your child was in CCD last year, you will note that Mrs. R and I have moved up to 6th grade, staying with the same group of children.

The 6th grade curriculum will cover several areas, including basic confirmation training and some of the Old Testament. Since this is our first year to teach this grade, we are still trying to plan the entire year. However, we  know we will start with the process of selecting a saint’s name for your child’s Confirmation name.

Your child is in middle school, and so our expectations will be a little higher for him/her. While we will continue to seek ways to keep the instruction interesting and memorable, there will undoubtedly be times when they will be told, “This may not be fun, but you need to learn it anyway.” And we will have some occasional homework or take-home projects.

Please understand I will have your child for less than an hour just once a week. You can do several things to help us make this a productive experience for your son or daughter.

  • Ask your child if we have given them a task to do during the week and assist them with it.
  • Please have your child to the school before 6:30 p.m.
  • Please support us and encourage your child to come to CCD class willingly and with enthusiasm.

We have only three class-rules, and we hope you will help us reinforce these to your children.

  1. Show up.
  1. Participate
  1. Don’t be a “jerk.”

You are most welcome to sit-in on the class at any time, and we encourage you to do so.

I hope you will stay abreast of what’s happening with your child on Wednesday evenings. To help you do so, I have created a blog/Web site. I will try to keep it updated on a weekly basis with reports on the class activity and announcements.


I realize the title is “grade5,” but to be honest, I don’t have the time right now to recreate a new blog with a new URL indicating the 6th grade.

If you have not already done so, please provide me with your email address. We have learned through experience that trying to communicate with parents through the filter of an 11 or 12 year-old just doesn’t work.

As we have done for the past several years, we ask that you come to the classroom to pick up your child at 7:30 p.m. Please do not instruct your child to leave the building on his or her own and meet you in the parking lot. If you have a situation that makes it difficult for you to come into the building, like a sleeping baby, just let us know. One of us will walk your child(ren) to your car.

Feel free to contact Mrs. Rudolphi or myself for any reason.

Mike Sullivan

Office: 598-2325

Cell: 484-2622


Shelly Rudolphi

Home: 897-9335



Last night was the last class of the 2015-16 CCD year. (Last September seems like last century.) We had pizza and fruit punch, and Monsignor Costigan visited. He talked about his career as a priest and answered a large number of questions from the class. It was a good session and a great way to cap off the year. Have a great summer. We’ll see you around the island and on Wednesday evening’s next fall.

We only had five students in attendance last night, which is a shame because we had a fairly good class.  This was our second-to-last class of the year and the last one in which we would teach a normal lesson.

The focus of last night’s lesson was prayer. After an opening prayer, we asked the class to break into partner groups and read the first few paragraphs of the text. We provided a sheet of paper with three columns. They were to seek the answers to three questions found in the text.

–What is prayer? (A conversation with God.)

–How can we pray? (alone or with others; aloud or silently; scripted, like a Hail Mary, or just whatever we want to say)

–How did Jesus pray (many different ways)

We introduced the five different types of prayer. We discussed each one and tried relate them to our fifth graders daily lives.

Blessing – like a prayer before a meal

Petition – asking God for some help

Intercession – asking God for help on behalf of another

Thanksgiving – thanking God for all his gifts

Praise – praising God for his greatness

We asked the class to make themselves comfortable and to close their eyes. We asked them to remain quiet and to think about having a conversation with God. We told them God would hear anything they wanted to silently tell him. They should talk with God and then to listen. We let this go for about sixty seconds.

We asked if anyone heard God talking back to them, but to no surprise, no one did.

We pointed out that God hears all prayers, but does not necessarily respond in the way we want.  We used an example of a student praying for an “A” on a test for which had or she had not studied. God may respond by not helping with the grade. A poor grade may be a better lesson in the long run to teach the student he or she needs to work for their grades. We also read a short fictional account of a conversation between a person and God. The person complained that he had a bad day and God had not helped by answering his prayers. God responded with reasons for all the supposedly bad things that had happened.

We talked a little about looking for opportunities to regularly pray daily.

We discussed scripted prayer. Most of the students agreed that when they prayed a scripted prayer like the Hail Mary or the Our Father, they were just reciting words without really understanding the purpose or meaning for the prayer. We introduced a match-column exercise from the text that broke down The Lord’s Prayer into its individual components. The students were to match the right hand column with the appropriate line from the prayer. For example. “We ask God’s forgiveness” matches up with “and forgive us our trespasses.” And so on. We then discussed the answers. We allowed only a few minutes for this, but most of the class completed the exercise and, for the most part had very good matches.

We left them with a homework assignment. We asked them to identify some time or action that is a part of their daily life, like brushing their teeth, taking a shower, waiting for a school bus, or whatever. They should note that daily event as a “trigger” for a daily prayer. Next week, we’ll ask them what they decided would be their trigger.

Next week will be our last class of the year. Monsignor Costigan will visit. He will talk about his life as a priest and answer a number of questions that arose this year that were beyond my or Mrs. Rudolphi’s ability to answer. We will also have a pizza snack. It would be very nice if you would send me an email or call if your child is not going to be able to attend. I don’t want to buy a bunch of pizza and have no one there to eat most of it.

Last night we tackled the Sacrament of Matrimony. We started with a disclaimer. Since this subject can sometimes run close to situations in the students’ own family life, we pointed out that we know very little about their families and nothing we discuss (especially the Church’s teachings about the permanence of marriage and divorce) should be taken personally.

We had volunteers read some sections aloud and for other sections we had students pair up and read to each other. Some of the key points we covered and discussed include:

Men and women are different but equal.

Marriage and having children have been part of God’s plan since the beginning.

God puts such importance on marriage that two of the Ten Commandments pertain to it (adultery, and coveting neighbor’s wife/husband). Also, Jesus’s first miracle was performed at the wedding at Cana. We read the biblical account, John 2:1-11.

We discussed the concept of a promise, a vow (promise to God) and a covenant. Matrimony uses vows to establish a covenant between the bride and groom.

The Catholic Church teaches that a marriage is a sacred commitment to the spouse and to God, and is intended to last so long as both parties are alive.

While a Catholic marriage is extremely difficult to get out of, it is also difficult to get into. The Church actively works to weed out couples who are not truly committed to one another or are too immature to make such a commitment.

When a couple is married in the Church, they are actually being married twice. The first is the civil contract, recognized by the state with all the legal issues related to that like shared possessions, custody of children, inheritance, tax benefits, etc. The second is the religious matrimony of two people standing before a priest and their families and making a promise to God to remain faithful to each other. The first can be accomplished by going to the courthouse. Only in the Church do you get the entire package.

The bride and groom are the celebrants of the Sacrament. The priest only oversees the process and blesses the union.

Three of our girls asked if they could present a skit. They acted out a marriage ceremony, although with a lot of giggles.

And for another year, no one asked about gay marriage. Although I thought with the three girls acting out the ceremony, we were coming very close. I was prepared with an answer, but it  never came up.

We didn’t accomplish as much as we would have liked. (This class is slightly more time consuming than some others.) We may take a few minutes next week to talk about the obligations of adults and children within a family. For the rest of next week’s class, we will talk about prayer, types of prayer, times for prayer, ease of prayer and a dissection of the Lord’s Prayer. The following week, April 27, will be our final class. Monsignor Costigan will visit, talk about his life as a priest and answer questions. We plan to provide a pizza snack for the students.