Religious Education Newsletter

November 2023

Message from the Director

Jessie Adrians, Director of Religious Education

This year marks my 11th year of ministry at St. Raphael and since 2013, I have prepared roughly 650 children to receive the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time. Every year has been full of grace for different reasons.  This year, has been extra special because child #651 is named Andrew: last name: Adrians.  

Preparing my son to receive the sacrament of reconciliation definitely gave me a fresh perspective on the process as Josh, Andrew and I participated in parent/child classes, the retreat and worked on “the book.”  And while he expressed some nervousness at forgetting what to do or say in the confessional, he worked through the materials fairly easily, asking thoughtful questions.  All in all, he seemed pretty comfortable with the idea.

At least that's what I thought.  About one week before his first confession I picked him up at school and mentioned that the shirt I had ordered him to wear at his First Reconciliation had come in the mail and that he was going to try it on that evening to make sure it fit.  He stopped short, looked at me and said, “What?  I’m doing that?  When?” 

Taken aback by his shock I responded “Next week.”  

“What?  No!  What if I don’t know what to do?”   

I paused for a moment, trying to figure out the best way to reassure him without setting off a full blown anxiety attack.   “Remember what we talked about.  You will have your paper so you can remember what to say.”  I looked at his face and realized that it would not be enough.  “And, we can our own role play.”   Andrew liked the idea of doing our own role play, so over the next week, we took turns playing “the priest” and “the child.”  Andrew was very diligent in his practice, insisting that we practice both face to face and behind the screen.  He was also adamant that we use the long form of the Act of Contrition.  I was happy to comply.   

When the night of reconciliation came, our family gathered with other 2nd grade families and although Andrew seemed a little nervous, he was relatively calm overall.  When the time came, he marched into the reconciliation room and shut the door.  I could see him through the window and as I watched my little boy kneel down and begin talking, I cried.  And not a little, it was full on crying.  (Josh thought this was hilarious.)

It seemed like just yesterday that Fr. Doug was welcoming him in the waters of baptism and here he was a school aged child, acknowledging his sins and giving them to Jesus.  I have never been prouder. When he emerged from the reconciliation room, he was all smiles. We celebrated “his shiny clean soul.” with dinner at pizza ranch and a Fr. John Hears Confession” Lego set.  

As I reflected back on the day, I realized that Andrew’s preparation for First Reconciliation began well before his second grade year, and in fact, is a small part of the larger picture in his life of faith.  It wasn’t just the few times we did the role play that helped him prepare to receive Jesus’ mercy, it was all the little moments and conversations leading up to that moment.   What we say, what we do, and how we spend our time as a family day in and day out matters, even if it seems small at the time.   

 My greatest responsibility as a parent is to help Andrew grow into the person that God created Him to be.   Sometimes that thought terrifies me, but then I remember that I am not in this alone.  Not only does Andrew have a man after God’s own heart as a dad, but he has the entire faith community of St. Raphael to look to as a model of what it means to live a life in Christ, and in that we are most richly blessed.  The two best ways Josh and I can help lead Andrew to Christ are by inviting Jesus into EVERY aspect of our life at home, and making sure that he stays connected with the church community by attending Mass, participating in the sacraments, and being involved in the community life and mission of the church. 

On December  3rd we begin the season of Advent.  Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, is the perfect time to bring the light of Christ into our homes and it also provides lots of opportunities to plug into the community life and mission  of the Church. Here are three simple ways you can grow as a family of faith during the season of Advent: 

  1. Display and Advent Wreath in your home: The  Advent wreath is an old tradition in the Church adopted from Germany that symbolizes the victory of Christ over sin and death. The four candles, three purple and one pink, symbolize that Christ is our light, and a new one is lit in each of the four weeks leading up to Christmas. To learn more about Advent Wreaths and some simple prayers families can say together around the wreath, click here.  
  2. Prayer: Set aside a special time to pray around your Advent Wreath.  There are also Advent devotionals for both children and adults that help to prepare our hearts for Christ. Brother Francis: The Days of Advent is a great series for children in grades 1-5.   For grown ups, I would suggest checking out The Best Advent Ever from Dynamic Catholic.   
  3. Gather in Community: Come pray at Mass each of the four weeks of Advent.   Gathering in community helps us support one another as we joyfully await the coming of Christ.   There will also be opportunities to serve together including  delivering Christmas flowers to local nursing homes or assisting with decorating the church for Christmas.    

However you and your family decide to grow in faith together this Advent, know Josh, Andrew and I are praying for you. Please pray for us!

Jessie Adrians 

Director of Religious Education  

Family Outreach

Kathy Baehman, Youth Ministry Assistant & Family Outreach Coordinator

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

King of the Universe

Each year the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday before Advent, also known as the last Sunday of the liturgical year.  As Catholics, we’ve been recognizing Christ as our king for over 2,000 years.  

Every time we attend Mass, genuflect in front of the altar, or receive a sacrament, we are honoring our King.  So why do we have a special day set aside to remember our King?  The man who holds the answer is Pope Pius XI who in 1925, was compelled to institute this feast.

Today, just as in 1925, our world continues to experience turbulent times.  In addition to political unrest and ongoing threats of wars, people are becoming increasingly more materialistic.  Church attendance throughout the world is also on the decline.  Many people are pushing Christ aside as they tend to more “important” matters. We live in a society where many people are caught up in their own lives, with getting their own needs met and focusing on wealth and possessions. 

The feast of Christ the King is a wakeup call for all of us, to stop and assess our lives.  Are we including our faith in all the decisions we make?  Do we only remember to pray when we need something?  When we attend Mass do we actively listen to the Scripture readings and reflect on the messages?  When we genuflect, do we do it with meaning, or are we only going through the motions?

This year, the Feast of Christ the King is November 26.  Let the words of Pope Pius XI resonate with us:

He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ.  He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God.  He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone.  He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of or souls”

Know of my ongoing prayers for you and your families! 

Kathy Baehman

Family Outreach Coordinator/Youth Ministry Assistant

Sunday School

Gwendolyn Noto, Sunday School Coordinator PK/K

Hello Families,

Can you believe it's already November? 

This month in Sunday school we talked about the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den. We learned that anything is possible when we have trust in God. When is a time in your life when you have to fully trust in God? Talk as a family about ways you can work together to trust more in God.

This upcoming Sunday School we will be talking about thankfulness and ways we can be thankful for all of God's amazing glories in our lives. We will also be constructing Advent wreaths for this year's Advent season. We talked about Advent and how it is a time of waiting. 

As a family, have a conversation about things that you are thankful for. Also, consider thinking about ways you can give during this upcoming Advent season. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,

Gwendolyn Noto

Sunday School Coordinator PK/K

Elementary School

Jenifer Jensen, Elementary School Coordinator

In these coming days, I want to challenge your family “to give thanks in everything”, just like the above bible verse reads. Thanksgiving shouldn’t stress us out. Embrace that overcooked turkey, the dog that couldn’t be kenneled (right after the carpets were cleaned), or the unexpected delays that keep guests staying a bit longer than anticipated. If we have those we care for near us and spend real quality time with them, not on devices, but perhaps playing a family game, taking a walk, or sharing what we are thankful for, we can learn to appreciate each other and those unique gifts God has given us to share. 

For now, we look to embrace our Thanksgiving then journey into our beautiful season fast approaching in our church year...Advent! We will have an Advent service project to do once again as an Elementary RE family. This year giving to our own St Raphael Family members who are homebound. Please look for an email with regards to what each grade will provide in the coming days. Always know if you are unable to provide an item, prayer is always the best way to participate! Those that are homebound appreciate that more than you’ll ever know.

This month of thanksgiving I want to thank you personally for sharing your children with me. They bring smiles to my face and joy to my heart ♥

Middle & High School Youth Ministry

Michael Wilms, Youth Ministry & MS/HS RE

Praise the Lord!...Now and forever!!

As challenges seem to occur more frequently, and the pace of life tends to get busier this time of year, I find it helpful and necessary to slow myself down. I invite you to join me simply by taking a moment to thank the Lord for all of it. Here is a litany of Thanksgiving I have found and desire to share with you:

O gracious and generous God, I thank you for the many blessings you have given me:

For the gift of life: I thank you, Lord.

For your steadfast love: I thank you, Lord.

For this astonishing, complex planet and all you have created: I thank you, Lord.

For faith and the example of your saints: I thank you, Lord.

For the Church and our family in faith: I thank you Lord.

For our families and friends: I thank you, Lord.

For health and for those who care for the sick: I thank you, Lord.

For food, warmth and shelter: I thank you, Lord.

For our nation, for freedom, security and peace: I thank you, Lord.

Lord, let me always be aware of your great kindness.

In gratitude for your gifts, may I:

… respect all life

… care for creation

… tend the sick, the hungry, the homeless and the migrant

… work to create a just nation

… love my neighbor as you have loved me.


God Bless!

Upcoming Events and Retreats:

Upcoming Events and Retreats:

  • Now Forming!- High School peer small groups! Starting this fall we will be growing our Youth Ministry program with teen small groups (5-8 students) that the teens themselves will help create and share their input of how it should look. Contact us or visit:  if you would like to be in a small group that meets based on your schedule and needs!
  • Sunday Dec 10th- Second Sunday Holy Hour (SSHH!) Our monthly time for prayer and worship, held the 2nd Sunday of every month, at 4pm, followed by Sunday Mass at 5pm. This is a great opportunity to come pray for our youth/parish and spend time on the Sabbath growing in your own relationship with God.
  • Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE): Retreats for middle, high school and families! Located in beautiful Door County WI, CYE offers retreats that combine nature, community, prayer and fun for all ages. Visit to find out more.

  • TEC Retreat, Green Bay (16+ years) -A great retreat that helps youth and young adults to engage in their faith in a fun and deep way. Visit for more information.

Follow us on instagram (aftershock_ym_straph) for updates, inspirations and to stay connected.

Blessed Carlo Acutis…Pray for us!

Michael Wilms (

Youth Minister/Faith Formation

Grades 6-12

inFORMED Highlights

Some content in this section may be from FORMED, a Catholic content digital platform that provides 24/7 access to video-based study programs, feature films, audio presentations, and eBooks. St. Raphael has a parish-wide subscription, so sign up for your FREE account by visiting and searching for St. Raphael the Archangel in Oshkosh, WI.

Advent Wreath: Be the Light | Drawing Closer to God


Ms. Kim explains the significance of the season of Advent and its symbolism by teaching students how to draw an Advent wreath. She challenges kids to be the light of the world, especially during this holy season of preparation.


The True Meaning of Advent


What is the best way to prepare for the season of Advent? You’re free to do what you know will help you prepare for Christmas the best. Fr. Mike also wants to remind us that Advent is not just about preparing for Christmas. It’s also about preparing for Christ’s Second Coming.

Three Comings of Christ Prepare us for Advent


Bishop Robert Barron explains how Christ comes to us in three different ways during Advent.  

Upcoming Events
Check the youth page on the St. Raphael website for calendar updates. 
Religious Education
920 233 8044

Director: Jessie Adrians
RE Secretary: Anne Glowcheski
Sunday School: Gwendolyn Larsen
Elementary School: Jenifer Jensen
Youth Ministry, Middle/HS RE: Michael Wilms
Youth Ministry, Families of Faith: Kathy Baehman