Religious Education (All Ages)

Welcome to St. John Paul the Great Religious Education

Congratulations on your generous and loving decision to provide your child with Roman Catholic Religious Education at St. John Paul the Great!  It is a great privilege and honor for us to be entrusted with assisting you as “Primary Educators—First Catechists” of the faith, to help bring your children into a deeper understanding and knowledge of the teachings of the Catholic Church and to provide accompaniment to the family unit in this process.

You, as First Catechists—the “Domestic Church” are the first example of faith to your children. You’re the chosen one, which God entrusted to lead and guide this child in the faith. The Domestic Church is where God is first made present in a child’s life, it is where they encounter love, acceptance, prayer, morality, and the Christian life. As such, all Religious Education is always a participation in this life as part of the Domestic Church. Thus, the Church has always spoken of the need [See CCC 1656, Code of Canon Law 774 P 2 & 776 Familiaris Consortio 36, 39, 40 Gravissimum Educationis 3] of parishes assisting the parents as the primary educators of the faith.

Our Mission…

Our mission is “Educating the Hearts and Minds of Our Children towards a deeper understanding of our Catholic Faith and its Traditions through the means of active participation in our Religious Education program, weekly Mass attendance, and generous service to others.”

Religious Education is a lifelong process by which we accompany the parents and children in the journey toward knowing our Lord, loving Him, and living-out the teachings of Jesus Christ by serving others. Our program represents the living faith in the Sacred Traditions and Scriptures found in the Catholic Church, and our hope is that the faith will be discussed and lived out in the home.

A note from the Director

My name is Jen Owens, and I am the Director of Religious Education at St. John Paul the Great Parish. I am a proud wife and mother of three God-sent children; David, Davian, and Izabella all who are very supportive of my ministry and it’s through their support that I can wear the many hats. I’m also the coordinator of the Family Life and Marriage ministry in our parish, a ministry that I love to serve in and it brings me great fulfillment. I have been a member of our parish since 1994 when my parents and I moved to town, and I’m extremely grateful for the friendships that I have cultivated over the years.

In my spare time, I love time with my family, I love to dance, hike/nature walks, long rides, traveling, reading, and I love food—I am a foodie!  One person that I’m crazy about is JESUS! My passion and primary goal in life is to serve Him, followed by being the best example and role model for my children, and finally, living out my calling of service to others. Through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, I am humbled to say that I have found my purpose in life!

My journey with the program began as a volunteer in 2008, then coordinator for the K thru sixth grade in 2016, and as of this spring, I have been entrusted to direct all grades including High School Confirmation. I am humbled and excited to accept this new endeavor as together we grow in love and knowledge for God.

It is the goal and expectation that every student and their parent(s)/families have a positive faith-filled experience in our program; thus we will work together toward that goal! I look forward to sharing my faith with everyone and the many fun and faith building experiences that will be shared. I pray for biblically centered education—both teaching and learning.

It’s also my expectation that I empower the parents of our children to get involved as Primary Catechists. As director, my goal is to support our Catechists and families in carrying out our mission and providing guidance where needed through various means. As we walk this journey together and share our knowledge, we will continue to grow into the disciples that God intended for us to be which begins with an intentional prayer life. Through prayer, formation, and service we can become acquainted with what the Church teaches and believes. We want to set our student's hearts on fire with love for Jesus Christ!  

I wholeheartedly look forward to working with your children, your family, our Catechists, pastoral staff and clergy for a faith-filled year!

It's our prayer that our program will allow God's love and purpose for each child to come to life like never before—drawing kids and their families closer to God, as we seek to know, love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

We thank you for letting God lead you in the ways of Roman Catholic Religious Education, and may this year be a time of grace and growth for all of us at St. John Paul the Great!

Thank you for entrusting your children to us and we wish your family Christ’s blessings as our new faith year begins!

Yours in Christ,
Jen Owens

About Our Programs

The goal of St. John Paul the Great Parish Religious Education/Faith Formation/Catechesis program is to engage children and their families in an active faith life in our parish, at home, and in our community.

The Faith Formation program comprises three levels, Kindergarten thru fifth grade; Middle School grades sixth thru eighth; and High School Confirmation (2 year program) for youth in grades ninth thru twelfth.

Our program is a comprehensive and progressive curriculum that encompasses Catechesis alongside Faith Formation. Each year, children build upon their faith journey from kindergarten to Confirmation by active participation in our Religious Education program, weekly Mass attendance, and generous service to others. Our program is built on the tenets of having every child experience the joy of knowing Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity and be able to share that gift with the parish community and beyond.

Our K-8th grades meet once a week with most holidays and long weekends off; and our Confirmation class meets once or twice per month. Each session involves prayer, Scriptures, experiential learning, and discussion.


Our program serves children in various towns in Litchfield County. We have a diverse program welcoming students and families from various countries and ethnic backgrounds such as Vietnam, Ireland, Canada, Poland, Italy, Mexico, Ecuador, Nigeria, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Colombia just to name a few.

Teaching Curriculum

St. John Paul the Great is vested with Pflaum Gospel Weeklies Faith Formation Program combines a complete doctrinal catechesis with the liturgical life of the Church. There are two components to the lessons:

  1. The lessons connect to the Sunday Mass. The content of the program flows from each Sunday’s Gospel, and students learn their faith within the rhythms and seasons of the liturgical year.
  2. Encourages family participation. Every lesson goes home to involve parents (who hear the same Gospel on Sunday) making it easier for them to discuss topics with their children.

Our kindergarten and first graders will be learning from the Promise curriculum; our second and third graders will be leaning from Good News; our fourth and fifth graders will be using Venture; our sixth thru eight graders will be studying from Visions; and our Confirmation students will be studying from Gifted with the Spirit.

More information can be found by going to

Home Study

Some families (depending on the circumstances) opt for Home Study because of schedule conflicts; others simply choose to catechize their child and take this as an opportunity to grow in faith as a family. After all, parents are the Primary Catechists of their children! Whatever your reasons are for choosing Home Study for your children, please know that we support you and we’re available to provide you with support and resources.

Sacramental Preparation

Students typically receive First Reconciliation and First Communion during 2nd grade, and Confirmation in 10th grade. All students are expected to attend at least 2 years of Religious Education classes either at a parochial school or in a parish program, before receiving these Sacraments. Students must be enrolled in a Religious Education program beginning in 1st grade for First Reconciliation and First Communion, and in 9th grade for Confirmation.

Family Faith Formation

Once per month we welcome students and their parents or special someone to attend Family Faith Formation. These sessions are a creative-family-centered workshop that equip our families and aid in the transmission of faith at home. It also empowers parents/families with the teachings of the Catholic Faith enabling them to grow in their faith together. Our time together is broken into two sessions: one for adult Catechesis founded in the Truth and teachings of the Catholic Church. This design is to help parents live out the Faith as a way of life and a life-long journey at home; and the second part of class engages parents and children in a hands-on Community Service/Outreach Project for those in need.

Monthly Collection/Community Outreach/Catholic Social Justice

St. John Paul the Great Religious Education program could not help others in need without the generous support from all its families. Each month, we will be asking for all students to donate to a cause. 

Children Participators of the Mass

We also encourage our families to take part in our weekly Family Mass and once a month children are encouraged to partake in our Mass Service for “Children Participators of the Mass.” This monthly Mass celebration allows children and youth the opportunity to serve in the Mass by taking on a role such as Lectors, Gift Bearers, Ushers, and other roles.

Prayer Chalice

We also have a Prayer Chalice program that is designed to nourish children’s payer life within the classrooms and at home.

Children's Rosary

And finally, we are proud to be part of the Children’s Rosary Movement. The Children’s Rosary is a lay prayer movement for children composed of children and led by children. Adults are always welcome and encouraged to come to the Children’s Rosary. These individuals are the special “guardian angels” of this movement. Through prayer of the Rosary, Our Lady will guide our young people while sanctifying families and our parish.

WELCOME to St. John Paul the Great Roman Catholic Parish's Religious Education and Faith Formation program for 2022-2023! I sincerely hope everyone had a wonderful and restful summer. This year, we look forward to working with you and your kids, and I hope it will be a motivating and enlightening year for everyone. One of our objectives is to support the formation of solid Catholic families where children experience the blessings of following Jesus Christ and learn the tenets of our faith from their parents' example of living a Christian life.

We are happy to have you as a part of our program and promise to work closely with you and your child to support the spiritual development of the entire domestic family.

As our plans unfold, more information will be shared on our website, so please check in regularly.

First Day of Class

Grades K-8th

Classes for the 2022 Faith Formation year will begin on Sunday, October 30 for grades K-8th from 8:30-9:45 am at St. John Paul the Great Academy (formerly known as St. Peter/St. Francis School), 360 Prospect St. Torrington, CT 06790. We meet weekly, followed by Family Mass at St. Francis Church at 10:00am.

Confirmation 2-year preparation program – Grades 9-12

Our Confirmation program will meet on Sunday, October 16 from 5:00-6:30pm. Confirmation classes are held once per month, with a few months of two classes as listed on the Confirmation Calendar. The additional requirements are:

  • Weekly Mass attendance and participation during our monthly “Youth Participators of the Mass.”
  • Attendance of a retreat
  • Discipleship/Stewardship services
  • An Apostolic project
  • Patron Saint Essay


Ms. Fransia and Ms. Cynthia

K, 1st, and 2nd Grade

I started teaching in 2014 in a range of grades K, 1, and 2. I enjoy everything about teaching. I enjoy doing crafts with kids, singing songs, and watching them smile. My favorite pastime is being with Jesus. I currently serve in the choir.

Cynthia is a middle school student who is very passionate about her faith, and in addition to teaching, she serves as an Altar Server at Mass.

Mrs. Sullivan

2nd Grade Sacramental

I joined as a catechist in 2018, teaching the 1st and 2nd grades. Teaching the kids by building children’s faith in Jesus is my favorite part of teaching. My favorite pastimes are reading, beach trips, watching my grandchildren, travel, and casino trips.

I currently serve at Vacation Bible Camp.

Mr. Sullivan

2nd Grade Sacramental

For many years, I have been teaching Religious Education 1st grade and 2nd Grade, and adult RCIA. What I enjoy the most about teaching is the people. My favorite pastimes are woodworking, fishing, and reading. I currently serve on the Parish Council and at Vacation Bible Camp.

Mrs. Carol Anderson

3rd and 4th Grade

Carol is very involved with our parish. She is a member of the Legion of Mary, and has taught Religious Education in prior years. She brings a great deal of experience in ministry work, and has been a great role model to her grandchildren who are students in the program.

Mr. Flinn and Carter

3rd and 4th Grade

I began teaching in 2019 with St. John Paul the Great Parish. The best part of teaching is seeing families grow in faith and knowledge. My favorite pastime is spending time with family, baseball card collecting and helping others with finances.

Carter is Mr. Flinn’s son, who is very active and is passionate about his faith. He helps dad in class and keeps everyone in check.

Mrs. Pollack

5th and 6th Grade

I have been teaching since 2016 at St. JPG. I have taught 4th thru 6th and College courses at Northwestern Community College. What I enjoy the most about teaching are the students. It is the richest and most beautiful subject matter I have ever taught. My favorite pastimes are reading, hiking, biking, swimming, praying and spending time with family and friends. I currently serve in the Pro-Life ministries.

Mrs. Csehak

Middle School 7th & 8th Grade

I have been teaching for about 35 years. I have taught grades most grades from 1st to High school. I enjoy the most about teaching by sharing my faith with the children and the smiles on their faces when they share their faith with me. My favorite pastimes are quilting and writing my memories.

In addition to teaching Middle School level Religious Education, I also volunteer for 2 Hearts Pregnancy Center.

Mrs. Buchanan

Confirmation Year 1

I have taught for 25 years in grades 4 through 12. I enjoy being a positive role model and a contributing member of the community. My favorite pastimes are kayaking, boating, and tubing with family and friends. I have served on many parish committees, including the parish finance committee.

Mr. Mwanza

Confirmation Year 2

I have been teaching since 2016. I have taught grades 3, 5, Middle School, and Confirmation. I enjoy most teaching the kids how to develop a relationship with God. I enjoy seeing them grow in faith, love of God and building God’s Kingdom. My favorite pastime is reading. I currently serve in the Youth Ministries and the Knights of Columbus.

Mrs. Swabski

Administrative Assistant

Before assisting in the office, I was a teacher for the 4th and 8th grades. What I enjoy the most about teaching are the kids. They learn quickly, and I love when they discover just how much they know about Jesus and His love for them. My favorite pastimes are bike riding, writing stories. I write stories of my years growing up and raising my children to hand down to my grandchildren. I also help with Adoration in our parish.

Mrs. Owens

Religious Education Director

I have had the privilege of being a Catechist since 2008. What I enjoy the most about this opportunity is engaging my passion for my faith with the kids/teens. At times, a simple conversation turns into a deep spiritual quest of dialogue about our belief, God, and the Catholic Church, which brings great joy! I also love that our program is the first foundation of our children’s faith at times, and I’m grateful to God for placing these children on our path. I love them like my own, and I hope that they can grow in their faith through my contribution to the program.

In my spare time, I love time with my family. I love to dance, hike/nature walks, long rides, traveling, reading, and I love food—I am a foodie! One person that I’m crazy about is JESUS! My passion and primary goal in life is to serve Him, be the best example and role model for my children, and finally, live out my calling of service to others. Through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, I am humbled to say that I have found my purpose in life!

Teen Volunteers

Bryan Cuzco

Jasmine Cuzco

Melissa Duman

Angelina Fernandez

James Le

Ben Mwanza

David Owens