• 856-665-5879
  • info@stpeterschool.org
  • 51 West Maple Ave. Merchantville, NJ
  • Academics

    "By reason of its identity, therefore, the Catholic school is a place of ecclesial experience, which is molded in the Christian community. However, it should not be forgotten that the school fulfills its vocation to be a genuine experience of Church only if it takes its stand within the organic pastoral work of the Christian community." The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium (The Holy See, par.12)

    Highlights of our Religious Instruction

    • Religion is given primacy in our curriculum above all other subjects
    • Weekly celebration of Holy Mass
    • Priestly instruction on a weekly basis by parish priests (Middle School)
    • Sacrament of Penance (3 times per year), formation for First Penance (Grade 2)
    • Formation in the sacrament of First Communion (Grade 2)
    • Formation in the sacrament of Confirmation (Grade 8)
    • Text series (Ignatius Press), which is closely aligned to the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church
    • Teachers who are certified in various aspects of catechesis and evangelization
    • Ongoing faculty formation (at faculty meetings, yearly retreats, Diocesan sponsored workshops)
    • Robust corps of altar servers
    • Religious instruction integrated across the curriculum
    • Daily recitation of either a decade of the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet (after lunch)
    • Annual May Crowning and procession
    • Honoring of Holy Days as days of festivity and solemnity as a school community
    • Mastery of traditional Catholic hymns and prayers, including in Latin


    Religious instruction is the heart of education at St. Peter School, as ought to be the case in any authentic Catholic school per the principles of education outlined by the Holy See (see the Vatican document, The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School). At SPS, we use the “Faith and Life” series by Ignatius Press. While there are many notable catechetical texts available for children, we believe that this particular series is the most closely aligned to the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church and the most academically rigorous for our students.

    Religion is not understood as a subject “parallel” to other disciplines, or as a “bonus” class offered by Catholic schools. In fact, such a perception of the unique role of religious instruction in a Catholic school is contrary to the authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. In the aforementioned document, the Holy See states,

    “Intellectual development and growth as a Christian go forward hand in hand. As students move up from one class into the next it becomes increasingly imperative that a Catholic school help them become aware that a relationship exists between faith and human culture. Human culture remains human, and must be taught with scientific objectivity. But the lessons of the teacher and the reception of those students who are believers will not divorce faith from this culture; this would be a major spiritual loss. The world of human culture and the world of religion are not like two parallel lines that never meet; points of contact are established within the human person. For a believer is both human and a person of faith, the protagonist of culture and the subject of religion. Anyone who searches for the contact points will be able to find them… In a Catholic school, and analogously in every school, God cannot be the Great Absent One or the unwelcome intruder. The Creator does not put obstacles in the path of someone trying to learn more about the universe he created, a universe which is given new significance when seen with the eyes of faith.” (The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, Section 51)

    While religion is treated as a separate subject in our curriculum, St. Peter School strives to take an integrated approach to religious studies across the curriculum. This means, for example, that English teachers might utilize religious topics for reading and writing assignments, critical passages in the Bible might be read in Literature classes, the lives of the Saints and actions of the Catholic Church in history will permeate the study of history, and Catholic social teaching will be emphasized in Social Studies.

    According to Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical, Fides et Ratio (par.9) and The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 156-159), the doctrines and of faith and the principles of reason and science are not opposed. Therefore, St. Peter’s seeks to build an academic culture where students can identify diverse points of intersection between the teachings of faith and other academic disciplines in order to construct a coherent worldview that embraces God’s plan for salvation. We seek to utilize the teachings of faith to illuminate the limitations of academic knowledge in order to form a well-rounded child.

    With this latter objective, an integrated approach to religious instruction involves the putting of faith into practice. St. Peter School seeks to cultivate an active faith among our students by catechizing and rewarding students for demonstrating the various virtues and also to provide opportunities for service to the local parish and community. As St. James states, “As the body is dead without the spirit, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

    Finally, religious instruction culminates in weekly participation in our school liturgies. The aim of religious instruction at St. Peter School is to prepare the students to lead liturgically active lives. This means that in addition to sacramental preparation for First Penance, First Communion, and Confirmation, we seek to instill in our students a love and reverence for the Holy Eucharist in our weekly school Mass. Additionally, we seek to instill in our students a reverence for frequent reception of the sacrament of Penance.


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