How does one get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

The joke may be dated, but the lesson still rings true: Full understanding of a subject comes best from dedicated training.

St. Mary’s parish in Crescent is helping faith formation students — and their parents — to practice their faith with the parish’s first catechism booklet, titled, “Knowing Our Faith: A Guide to the Assessment of Catholic Basics.”

“For little kids, repetition is how you remember,” explained Rev. Joseph Cebula, pastor.

Thanks to the booklet, children at St. Mary’s can take their faith formation lessons home with them and continue their practice outside the classroom.

The booklet is broken into three parts, stating what each child should know about Catholicism by the time he or she enters third, sixth and ninth grade.

Grade by grade

Before children reach third grade, for instance, they’re expected to know basics of the faith: how to make the sign of the cross, the words to the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers, the Apostles’ Creed and a simple understanding of the Ten Commandments.

By sixth grade, students should know how to pray the Rosary, and the prayer to the Holy Spirit and prayer for the deceased, as well as which days on the calendar are holy days of obligation when Catholics must attend Mass.

By ninth grade, the booklet notes, students should start looking more deeply into their faith. They should understand concepts like the mysteries of the Rosary, all parts of the Mass and how to make an “examination of conscience” into how they practice being a child of God.

Each section builds off the previous one as children grown and the concepts they’re taught become more challenging. By confirmation, students are expected to have mastered all the information in the booklet.

“Knowing Our Faith” booklets were distributed at the beginning of the school year to all 145 families enrolled in St. Mary’s faith formation classes.

Booklets were also distributed directly to second-grade students making first reconciliation and high-school students on track to be confirmed.

Creating resource

Rachel Collet, faith formation secretary, worked with Father Cebula on creating the booklet over the past year. Mrs. Collet gathered information for the booklet from various certified Catholic sites.

Even as a “cradle Catholic,” Mrs. Collet told The Evangelist, “it was a learning experience for me” to assemble everything.

Inspiration for the document came from Rev. Thomas Berardi, retired pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Lake George, who had created a one-page list of what students at that parish needed to know about their faith by the time they reached certain grades. Father Cebula ran with the idea, expanding the information into a 32-page booklet.

The pastor noted that the booklet was largely created as a resource for parents. The hope, he said, is that parents will use “Knowing Our Faith” to guide their children through their faith at home.

Parents need help

“We say that parents are the first and best teachers of faith,” Father Cebula explained.

Over time, parents themselves may forget basics of faith taught to them in childhood.

“I think a lot of kids have questions, and a lot of parents don’t have the answers,” said Mrs. Collet.

Annemarie Strife has three children enrolled in St. Mary’s faith formation classes, two of whom are serving as lectors at the parish. Mrs. Strife called the guide “a great resource” at her home; she said looking through the booklet helped to refresh her memory on certain prayers and rules of the Church.

“It’s a way to keep your faith on more than just Sundays,” she said. “And, if there’s a question, you can just [refer] to it.”

Like most of the students in St. Mary’s faith formation program, Mrs. Strife’s children attend public schools. She said it felt good to have another “symbol” at home to show her children the importance of faith in everyday life.

“I think it shows the kids that our faith is important,” she said. “This is a way to make that connection with my kids, [who] are learning [these lessons] for the first time.”

Father Cebula also placed booklets in the parish gathering space for any parishioners interested in brushing up on their faith.

“You’re really never done learning,” said Mrs. Collet. “You learn something new about your faith every single day.”

(For more information, call St. Mary’s at 518-371-9632.)