COVID-19 Pastoral Resources

Religious Education Guidelines

Operating Framework for the 2021/22 Program Year

Protecting the health and safety of our program participants, parish staff and volunteers while providing them with an excellent, in-person faith formation experience remain our priorities. Based on the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), consultation from our team of medical advisors, and our Archdiocesan COVID-19 Task Force, we plan a return to largely normal, pre-pandemic operations while maintaining select safety protocols to ensure a healthy, in-person environment. As with last year’s programming, we will continue to follow the same protocols set forth by the Archdiocese’s Office for Catholic Schools.

Consistent with the guidance for Catholic schools, the sharing of supplies (e.g.: crayons, markers) may return to pre-pandemic operations with adherence to guidance offered in the Operating Framework.

Off-Campus Field Trips and Retreat Centers

Parishes and schools offering child and youth programming may offer off-campus experiences in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • The parish or school sponsoring the off-campus experience is responsible for ensuring that all archdiocesan COVID-19 health and safety protocols are followed, including required use of masks, physical distancing and handwashing. Please consult the Operating Framework for the 2021/22 Program Year.
  • Any bus transportation must follow the required distancing protocols. Bus windows should be opened to increase ventilation. Individual carpools should not be utilized, however single-family transportation is permitted.

Consistent with our standing guidance, only vaccinated individuals (no age limitation) may participate in any Archdiocese of Chicago parish or school overnight retreat or mission trips. This includes organizers accompanying the group. Participants who can provide proof they have had COVID and recovered within the past 90 days of the departure of the overnight Mission Trip are allowed to participate. Day-only retreat/mission trips do not require that all participants be vaccinated.

Please note, this guidance is subject to change depending on the prevailing public health guidance.

Adolescent Confirmation Catch-Up Program – Program Guide

Students unable to adequately participate in preparation for the sacrament of confirmation in the 2020-2021 academic year may still receive the sacrament in the 2021-2022 year by participating in the supplemental program provided by the archdiocese, in addition to their regular parish preparation activities. The program guide for this supplemental program is available in English, Spanish and Polish.

Virtual Engagement, Communication and Safe Environment

Archdiocesan interim guidelines for virtual safe environment are available here. The Archdiocese continues to evaluate policy changes based on increased use of digital technologies. Welcome feedback to the [email protected] email address regarding any challenges these policies pose to parishes.

Confirmation Retreat Resource
*Now Available in English & Spanish*
In order to assist you in preparing adolescents for the sacrament of confirmation during this extraordinary and challenging time, the Archdiocese of Chicago is pleased to provide a virtual confirmation retreat resource in partnership with Twenty-Third Publications. This leader's guide will provide necessary tools to facilitate a virtual retreat and is flexible enough to be adapted to each parish's unique situation. The Spanish version of the leader's guide is now available here.

If you are looking to collaborate with neighboring parishes to deliver a joint confirmation retreat, please reach out to your vicariate Lifelong Formation Coordinator to get connected with other Catechetical Leaders.

First Eucharist Retreat Resource and Planning Assistance
The Office of Lifelong Formation (OLF) has developed a resource (PDF) to assist parishes in planning first Eucharist retreats given the challenges of the pandemic. This resource includes a list of retreat resources with sample retreat formats, along with tips for virtual, in-person, and at-home retreats. This material is meant to assist parishes and is both optional and adaptable for use in parish programs.

First Grade Faith Formation Catch-Up Recommendations
Developed by the Office of Lifelong Formation, these First Grade Faith Formation Catch-Up Program Recommendations (English, Spanish) are intended to help parish leaders prepare and implement supplemental first grade lessons for those students who were unable to fully participate in first grade classes during the 2020-21 faith formation program year due to COVID-19.

Parishes are not required to follow these recommendations—this document is simply meant to assist parish leaders in developing a first grade catch-up plan while preparing children to receive the sacraments of first reconciliation and first Eucharist during the 2021-22 faith formation year. If you have questions about these recommendations, contact Deborah Breakey ([email protected]).