Youth Faith Formation

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To register for the St. Thomas Aquinas: The Catholic Center at Purdue Religious Education Program, please come to the Front Office from 9:00AM – 5:00PM on Mondays – Fridays, or come to the Front Office during Religious Education Sundays at any time between 8:30 – 11:30AM.

Religious Education & Youth Ministry Calendar

Religious Education

The religious education courses at St. Thomas Aquinas: The Catholic Center at Purdue are courses instructed by a blend of qualified resident parishioner and student parishioner catechists that have completed the Diocesan required Protocol Training and well as continual catechetical FIRE formation. All of the classes meet on Sunday mornings in two separate sessions.

If you would like to register your child(ren) for Religious Education at St. Thomas Aquinas: The Catholic Center at Purdue, please e-mail:

Session 1 (9:00am – 10:00am)

Pre-School (3 year olds by August 1)
Pre-Kindergarten (4 year olds by August 1)
1 st Grade (Sacramental Preparation Year)

Session 2 (10:30am – 11:00am)

2nd Grade (Sacramental Year)
3rd Grade
4th Grade
5th Grade
6th Grade
7th Grade
8th Grade (Sacramental Preparation Year)
9th Grade (Sacramental Year)
Hi-Definition Religious Education (Post-Confirmation High School Courses)

Sacramental Preparation

The Policy of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana states, “Students preparing for a Sacrament must have attended a Catholic School or Parish Religious Education Program the preceding year.”

Sacramental Preparation Year (1st Grade)

As aforementioned, the 1st Grade Sacramental Preparation Year is required for all students who are not enrolled in the local Catholic schools. This is necessary so that the foundational formation of the students is established before entering into the Sacramental Year of First Reconciliation & First Holy Communion in 2nd Grade.

Sacramental Year: First Reconciliation & First Holy Communion (2nd Grade)

Students will receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion during their 2nd Grade year. Students will attend the First Reconciliation Retreat in November and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to the start of Advent. Students will attend the First Holy Communion retreat in March and will receive First Holy Communion during the Easter season.

Sacramental Preparation Year (8th Grade)

As aforementioned, the 8th Grade Sacramental Preparation Year is required for all students who are not enrolled in the local Catholic schools. This year of preparation is necessary so as to instill an evangelical heart in order for the students to more readily receive the truths presented during the Sacramental Year of Confirmation in the 9th Grade.

Sacramental Year: Confirmation (9th Grade)

The Confirmation Class meets from 10:30AM – 11:30AM on Sunday mornings. A major focus is Christ’s love and the beauty of the Catholic Church. Parents and sponsors are encouraged to be active participants in the Confirmation preparation program.

Youth Ministry

Middle School (6th – 8th Grade)

The Middle School Youth Ministry provides an opportunity for the youth to grow in fellowship, community, and faith at weekly meetings. Service opportunities and retreats are often utilized to form stronger relationships with one another, and, ultimately, with God.

High School (9th – 12th Grade)

The High School Youth Ministry provides an opportunity for the youth to form a deeper relationship with God through community and fellowship. There will be opportunities to serve others with service projects, as well as opportunities to become more engaged in our Catholic Faith through discussions and various activities concerning the pillars of the Faith. Additionally, severalfellowship events will occur to further deepen our bonds – such as a cookout at Happy Hallow, a trip to Exploration Acres, and several other off-campus events.

Both ministries meet weekly on Thursday nights: Middle School is from 6:30PM – 7:30PM; High School is from 7:30PM – 9:00PM.

This Year’s Team (2017 – 2018)

Director of Religious Education & Youth Ministry: John Strong
Assistant Director of Religious Education & Youth Ministry: Judy Pfledderer
Coordinator of Youth Ministry: Caitlyn Bennett
Coordinator of Religious Education: Jessica Devine
Elementary School Intern: Bess Fary
Middle School Intern: Julia Kuhn
Confirmation Intern: Hannah Rugenstein
Special Education Intern: Allie Barnes


For Helping Children and Their Families

Catholic Printables
Angie Kauffman, a resident parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas, has graciously allowed us to provide a link to a website that she owns and operates that provides many awesome printable Catholic resources. Please feel free to check out some of her great work.

The Domestic Church (Pre-School – Pre-Kindergarten)
Loyola Press offers great resources for families to use at home. These particular guides line-up with the textbooks that we use in our formation sessions.

The Domestic Church (Kindergarten – 8th Grade)
Loyola Press offers great resources for families to use at home. These particular guides line-up with the textbooks that we use in our formation sessions.

Use our Parish Code of “H93B8V” to sign-up. There are thousands of hours of multimedia content for all of your Catholic needs. Do you want to study scripture? Formed has you covered. Do you want to watch a movie about St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta? Formed has that to. From videos to books, Formed has it all.


Meet This Year’s Interns


Rachel Huemmer

Youth Ministry Coordinator

Year: Junior

Major: Strategy & Organizational Management

About Me: I grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. Throughout high school, I was very involved in the Youth Ministry program at my home parish and got to attend retreats such as Destination Jesus, the Call, Antioch, and NCYC! This really helped jumpstart my faith and it’s my goal to share that with others. Among other various ministries at St. Tom’s, I got involved with LifeGuides my freshman year, teaching 3 and 4 year olds. Last year I got to help with the Youth Ministry program and absolutely loved it! I’m so excited to be serving as the coordinator this year. I can’t wait to encounter Christ with some wonderful young adults- all while having fun!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I love this verse because it shows how God can work even in our brokenness!


Jessica Devine

Religious Education Coordinator

Year: Junior

Major: Public Health

About Me: I spent most of my childhood in Avon, Indiana. I’m passionate about education, health, and living a joy-filled life that reflects Christ. My passion for teaching started with the education department at the Indianapolis Zoo while I was in high school. I came to Purdue excited to join the amazing community of St. Tom’s I’d heard so much about. While at church the very first weekend, I saw a flyer and felt an inexplicable calling to the LifeGuides callout. I didn’t have any idea what LifeGuides was, but there was no doubt in my mind God was calling me there. I offered to teach whatever grade needed me, and taught 5th grade my freshmen year. As a sophomore I coordinated the entire religious education program. I love every moment I get to spend inspiring our volunteer catechists or interacting with the kids to whom we minister. In addition to my time with LifeGuides I’ve been a coordinator for new student outreach at St. Tom’s and I’ve staffed the Confirmation retreat the last two years. I’m excited to see where God leads me next, and the religious education program through me.

Favorite Bible Verse: “Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be discouraged, do not be afraid, for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” – Joshua 1:9

God says this to Joshua as Joshua is preparing the Israelites to cross the Jordan to get to the Promised Land. This is my favorite verse because it reminds me to never let fears stop me from pursuing God’s plan for me. Despite the harsh journey and Moses’s death just beforehand, the work of God continued uninterrupted, and no matter what setbacks we encounter, so it is the same for us today.


Erin Bodenbach

LifeGuides Secretary

Year: Sophomore

Major: Neurobiology & Physiology

About Me: As the only child to two loving parents, I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Coming from two devout Catholic families, a parochial education was always something that my parents valued and wanted to provide. As a result, I attended a Catholic grade school and continued my education at a Catholic high school. In high school, my faith grew immensely. Despite several hardships, I was able to grow closer to God. Suffering allowed me to deepen my trust in God and remember that it is all part of His plan. Coming to Purdue, I knew that I wanted to continue in my faith journey by being active in the St. Tom’s community. Joining LifeGuides last fall as the LifeGuides Secretary was an amazing opportunity! I was able to continue working on my own faith while making an impact on the lives of young children. I am excited to be returning this fall, and I hope to continue my growth in faith and in my leadership skills.

Favorite Bible Verse: Favorite Scripture Quote:
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3

When I read this verse, it reminds me that there is a greater purpose to all our trials and tribulations. It is through our suffering that we are able to grow in strength and deepen our faith.


Lisa Goelzhauser

Elementary School Intern

Year: Senior

Major: Mechanical Engineering Technology

About Me: I’m from Cibolo, Texas. I grew up in a military family so I’ve lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, Guam, Delaware, and then Texas.
Throughout high school I participated in Teen ACTS retreats, Steubenville South youth conferences and Steubenville LEAD. I came to Purdue looking for ways to get involved at St. Tom’s. I joined the Lifeguides program my sophomore year and love the amazing impact that we have on small children. I taught First Grade my sophomore year and then First Communion my junior year. I’m so excited to see what this upcoming Lifeguide year brings!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Set before you are fire and water. To whichever you choose, stretch out your hand.” – Sirach 15:15

This verse was actually a theme on one of my high school retreats and I’ve always loved it. Everyday we have to make choices. Sometimes between good or bad, right or wrong, good or better, bad or worse, and more. But, it is always important to have God with you throughout these choices, no matter how small.


Mitchell Struewing

Middle School Intern

Year: Sophomore

Major: Pharmacy

About Me: I am from the eastside of Indianapolis, Indiana where I grew up with my two younger siblings and loving parents. I grew up volunteering a lot with my dad at St. Vincent de Paul, the Knight’s of Columbus, and our church’s summer festival. I got involved in St. Tom’s playing cello in the 9 AM choir and teaching 4th grade and 7th grade, a semester each. My favorite thing about St. Tom’s and Purdue has been getting to make so many new, amazing friendships (and I cannot wait to make more). Some fun facts about me: I have an obsession with grapes and they are my go-to snack all day, every day. I also crave a nice cup of tea quite often (hot or iced; sweet or unsweet). I love listening to new music and then searching YouTube for instrumental covers (look up Brooklyn Duo, they are my favorite). I want to get to know you and see what all we have in common, so whenever you see me feel free to stop and chat! I want for us all to grow not only in our friendships, but especially in our faith, together through LifeGuides. Let’s have a great year!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

This verse reminds me to hang in there even when times are rough. Life may be full of suffering, uncertainties, and temptation, but in the end God has a plan and a glorious future for us.


Jenny Zehner

Confirmation Intern

Year: Senior

Major: Animal Sciences

About Me: For the first eight years of my life, my three sisters and I lived in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, where my parents did mission work for an evangelical protestant organization. Since then I have lived in Roachdale, IN in a big brick farm house with a big vegetable garden and a variety of animals. When I was in 8th grade, my family first visited a Catholic Church. I joined the Church about a year later as a high school freshman. I am so grateful God lead me to the Church and for all the people and events that have been part of the journey. I am currently studying Animal Sciences with minors in Entomology and Spanish. I plan to have a career in rural community development. I am so excited to be the intern for St. Tom’s confirmation classes. I hope and pray that each of the students fall in love with our Lord during this time and freely choose to follow His will through participation in the sacrament/gift of confirmation.

Favorite Bible Verse: Luke 1:38 “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:38

This verse is the pivotal point of salvation history. Through Mary, God brings our savior, Jesus Christ into the word when she surrenders to His will. This is the beginning of Mary’s motherhood and our adoption. This verse is also a powerful prayer and meditation. May we always surrender to the Divine Will, even if it means some suffering as it did for Mary.


Marie Lenart

Special Education Intern

Year: Sophomore

Major: Neurobiology and Physiology

About Me: I was born in Dyer, Indiana but grew up in a small town called Seymour in Indiana. In high school I was very involved in my church by being a youth leader, going on two mission trips, and being a special education teacher in our own program. When I came to Purdue, I was very quiet, and set on working towards my goal of medical school. After a semester at Purdue, I became involved in St.Tom’s. I taught H.D.R.E. (a post-confirmation course) and then accepted the position as special education intern. In my position as an intern here, I look forward to expanding the special education program by bringing in new students, and teachers, and making it even more inclusive. I am so excited to let the Holy Spirit guide me in establishing a good foundation for this program!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

This is my favorite verse because it is telling us to let go and let God. Sometimes our path in life doesn’t go as we thought it would, or we hit a bump in the road. We must remember to do all things through Christ and trust in him, and our life will follow as he has planned for us.