Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

A Parish of the Archdiocese of New York served by the Dominican Friars

August 20, 2016

Religious Education (August 21, 2016)

For those who don’t yet know me, my name is Lisa Harrelson. I’m honored and humbled to serve as Coordinator of Religious Education for our parish, and to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Miss Dolores. I was born and mostly raised in Houston, Texas, but I’ve lived in New York for the past eight years. By now, I’m both a Texan and a New Yorker at heart!

I began my career as a CPA and started volunteering as a catechist as a way to relieve the stress of working long hours for a public accounting firm. After six years of corporate life, I answered God’s call to return to graduate school to study elementary education. I spent the next decade as both a classroom teacher and an elementary school librarian in Houston and here in New York. During this time, I spent eight years studying the Bible through an intensive, interdenominational Bible study program and six years learning about Catholic Liturgy and the Sacraments as a sponsor for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at my home parish on the West Side.

I often wondered why God gave me such an unusual mix of education and experience. He answered that question for me when I began in this role at St. Catherine’s two years ago. I’ve been able to put my administrative, education, and volunteer experience to good use in service to His Church, and am so grateful for the gift of this ministry.

Our team has been busy this summer formulating a vision for our combined religious education program. For the upcoming school year, we’re pleased to offer Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) Levels 1, 2, and 3 for children from 3-years-old to sixth grade. Level 1 serves children from 3-years-old through Kindergarten. Level 2 serves first through third grades. Level 3 serves fourth through sixth grades.

In addition to CGS, we’ll also continue to offer our Graded Program at St. Vincent Ferrer for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. I will facilitate our CGS sessions, while our familiar and dedicated team of catechists will lead our Graded Program. Ruth De Paula will teach fourth grade, Vincent Basilici will teach fifth grade, and Joan Carvo will teach sixth grade. I will also continue to facilitate the Ignite Middle School Youth Ministry program for seventh and eight graders.

Sessions will begin the week of September 18 and run through the first week of June. The fee for religious education at any level is $250 per child. The Graded Program will be held at St. Vincent Ferrer. CGS and Ignite will be held at St. Catherine of Siena.


CGS was developed by two Catholic laywomen in Rome, guided by the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. The resulting religious education materials are based on the Bible, Catholic Liturgy and Sacraments, Tradition, and Church teachings. CGS sessions are limited to twelve children each and are held in the Atrium, a sacred space designated for catechetical sessions intended to help children fully engage in their religious education, to develop their religious
potential, and to facilitate their participation in the life of the Church. Preparation for First Confession and First Holy Communion occurs within Level 2.

As a longtime educator, I believe in CGS because the hands-on, experiential learning environment is
developmentally appropriate for children of all ages. CGS also addresses different learning modalities as the children have opportunities to express their knowledge through written, verbal, and artistic means. As a Catholic, I believe in CGS because it fosters a setting in which the children are able to get to know God, rather than simply knowing about God. Their experiences in CGS help build the foundation for a lifelong relationship with Christ.

If you’d like more information about CGS, please visit If you’d like to visit the Atrium and see a
demostration presentation of CGS materials, please contact me. All are welcome!

4th, 5th, AND 6th GRADED PROGRAM

The graded program is a more traditional, structured religious education program than CGS. In accordance with Archdiocese recommendations, our parish is moving toward having children receive the Sacrament of Confirmation following their eighth grade year. However, those children who have already participated in the graded program for at least one year may still be confirmed after completing the 6th Grade program, in the fall of their seventh grade year, if parents and children so choose. Those students will also have the option to continue on to Ignite Youth Ministry even if they’ve already been confirmed or to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation after their eighth grade year. Children must participate in religious formation for at least two years leading up to Confirmation.


Our Ignite Middle School Youth Ministry program serves as continuing religious education, as well as formation for youth who have not yet been confirmed. We cover the Old Testament, the New Testament and Life of Jesus, the Human Person, the Sacraments, Morality, Prayer, Church History and other relevant topics. Students also have social and service opportunities.


Our schedule for the upcoming year is as follows:

CGS Level 1 (3-years-old  – Kindergarten)
Sundays at 10:00 – 11:15 am (During the 10:00 am Mass)
Thursdays at 3:00 – 4:00 pm

CGS Level 2 (1st grade – 3rd grade)
Sundays at 11:15 am – 12:45 pm (Following the 10:00 am Mass)
Sundays at 3:30 – 5:00 pm (Preceding the 5:00 pm Mass)
Wednesdays at 3:30 – 5:00 pm (SESSION ALMOST FULL)
Wednesdays at 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Thursdays at 4:00 – 5:30 pm

CGS Level 3 (4th grade – 6th grade)
Mondays at 3:30 – 5:00 pm

4th/5th/6th Graded Program (AT ST. VINCENT FERRER)
Tuesdays at 3:30 – 5:00 pm

Ignite Youth (7th and 8th grades)
Mondays at 5:00 – 6:30 pm

I will be at the Saturday Vigil Masses and each one of the Sunday Masses at both of our churches on September 10th and 11th to say hello and register your children for religious education. I’m excited to meet you all!

If you have any questions or wish to register your child before September 10th, please contact me at 212.988.8300, x186 or I’m looking forward to a wonderful year!

Yours in Christ,