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 A Six Year Confirmation Preparation Program

Tweens: 5th and 6th grades
Rite 13 (R/13): 7th and 8th grades
Journey to Adulthood (J2A): 9th and 10th grades
Young Adults in Church (YAC): 11th and up

Raising teens is some of the most important work you will do and the most difficult. Your choice of doing so In the context of a loving, supportive, church family is important. In every survey of family assets that contribute to healthy teens and families; participation in a faith community always ranks within the top five assets.

The topics we cover are the one’s that are challenging your children. We seek to provide information and experiences that will empower them to make life-giving choices in their lives. We look to provide an alternative to surface oriented, appearance, performance, consumption based culture that youth are bombarded with. We work hard to keep our program current and focused on the important skills that provide the foundation of authentic spiritual formation and it’s outcome; a God centered, purposeful life.

The following five goals form the basis of activities in the Journey to Adulthood program

1) They will know how to pray and discovered their preferred prayer style.

2) They will know how to find their way around the Bible and have a basic working knowledge of how God speaks to them in scripture.

3) They will have an experiential base of the works of justice and compassion and be able to articulate a basic ethical system for their life.

4) Youth will spend time discerning their Spiritual Gifts and the ministry that God is calling them to.

5) Youth commit to expressing their Spiritual gifts in a specific ministry at St. Mary’s or elsewhere while they are Young Adults in Church following confirmation.

During their time in the Journey to Adulthood Program youth will be required to do 30 hours community service and to participate in pro-social activities at St. Mary’s such as the Food Pantry, Midnight Run, 30 hour Famine and Carpenters Kids. As occasions arise they will have the opportunity to go on mission trips such as building homes with Habitat for Humanity.

The Youth group goes on a Winter retreat to Frost Valley YMCA Camp on Martin Luther King Weekend every year.

Tweens: 5th and  6th  grades.

At St. Mary’s we recognize that the teen journey is beginning earlier and earlier. Youth culture, and those who benefit from it, have pushed the beginning of the “teen” years down to the preteen 5

th grade. So we begin our youth program at 5th

grade. The Tween Group meets Sundays at 10:30 in the Rectory. The class is taught by a team of adult teachers and older teens in the Y.A.C. program. Tweens are using the Re-Form curriculum, and once a month have class either at the diner or Dunkin Donuts. They participate in some of our larger events such as 30 Hour Famine, serve in the Food Pantry or make lunches for the Midnight Run. The focus is on building a peer group that affiliates around positive activities, a growing relationship with God, living out of Christian values and building an experiential ethic of service together.

Rite 13: 7th and 8th grades.

Rite Thirteen studies through Scripture, films, books, discussions and experiences the four areas of life: Self, Society, Sexuality and Spirituality that teens must negotiate in their journey to adulthood. Rite 13 focuses on God’s gift of manhood and womanhood and culminates in the Rite 13 rite of passage that includes a retreat and special liturgy of affirmation with the whole congregation. Rite 13 meets in the Rectors office at 10:30 and once a month meets for “Breakfast Club” either at Dunkin donuts or the diner. At the end of the Rite 13 year students will select an adult mentor with whom they feel a spiritual kinship who will share their faith and encouragement with your child through the next 2 – 4 years meeting at church, their homes and work. The mentor’s task is to share their relationship with God, their spiritual practices and how their faith works in their lives.


Continues the exploration of Self, Society, Spirituality and Sexuality and what the connections are between the four areas. The first year of the J2A progam celebrates growing self-sufficiency and culminates in the Urban Adventure, a day long trip to New York City where kids navigate the city on their own (in the company of a supportive but non-directive adult.) Youth hone in on where they feel called to go on their Pilgrimage and begin the travel and budgeting groundwork.

In the second year of J2A youth explore other religions as well as understanding atheism and agnosticism. They practice how to articulate their own faith.

The second half of the year focuses on the Pilgrimage and learning different spiritual disciplines that lead us to God, the love of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The youth take these disciplines with them and apply them on their Pilgrimage and especially on their solo vision quest to seek and experience God’s presence and call in their lives. The Pilgrimage is a spiritual journey to meet God in different places, times and peoples. The Youth are stretched and challenged in many different ways. Many of our youth share that the Pilgrimage is one of the most profound experiences they have ever had. Pilgrimage takes place the fourth week of June in the Pilgrimage year.

Fundraising for Pilgrimage is ongoing throughout the six years and all youth and parents participate. Fundraising has proved to be a great time of bonding for our students and parents. Upon return from Pilgrimage youth decide to be confirmed or not. Confirmation is In the Fall and takes place on a Saturday night. It’s a night of solemn promises and a great party with food and dancing in the company of one of our Bishop’s.

YAC’s: Youth start ministry in earnest and work in the area they feel called to, some examples are music ministry, Youth representative on the Community Food Pantry Board, Sunday School teacher or member of Yorktown Youth Court for example. We meet every other month or so at a local coffeehouse to catch up, learn more and share what’s going on in spiritual growth. High School grads and College students are invited to a Christmas time coffeehouse to reconnect and get loved up.


We use resources that come from all along the Christian spectrum, from standard Episcopal resources to Roman Catholic to Evangelical to Mainline Protestant. Our goal is to bring the best resources to your child’s spiritual formation. To get a taste of some of the resources that we use, and to further your own insight on how to accompany your child in their spiritual development, we’ve provided some links to sites where we have gleaned resources. Have a wonderful time exploring!

Ethics, character building, non-sectarian, school focused.

Christian music, bible studies, games, events, artists. More to the evangelical side, take what’s good leave the rest.

The Center for Parent Youth Understanding, gives a great overview of current culture, drug trends, what’s hot/what’s not, movies, sex and dating trends, resources. On the evangelical side, take what is good, leave the rest.

Resources, articles, some of the best stuff on the planet for youth ministry.

Articles on theology, current events, politics, practices, humor, sustainable living, families, etc..

Group publishing has the corner on games, skits, and books of all kinds on youth ministry for youth ministers.

the Alliance is a local Yorktown Westchester organization that works to address the difficult issues teens and families are facing. It has lots of information, resources and help and sponsors many parenting and informational events.


You, your friend, or your teen is in trouble. You need help and hope. We have both. You are not alone. You’ve taken this step towards help for what is hurt or broken. It’s a brave step. We’re with you!

First We want to encourage you to talk to someone, you can call Mother Claire Woodley on her cell phone: 914-260-9689, although she is not a psycho-therapist she can listen and help you decide what next steps you want to take. She also has a list of referrals. She and others can accompany you through the process and offer help where they can. You have allies in your struggle.

Maybe you are looking for some resources to help you think about or understand your struggle. Here are some websites that have lots of information and people sharing their stories on everything from drugs and alcohol to depression, cutting and suicide. Your story is a Christian oriented website, To write love on her arms is a non-God site. Both have good information and insight. The Alliance for Safe Kids website has lots of local information in Yorktown and Westchester on help, events and resources.


12 Step Groups

There are also online 12 Step groups 24 hours a day. Google the issue plus the words “anonymous online”: alcoholics, narcotics, overeaters, gamblers, debtors, emotions; or acoa (adult children of alcoholics), alanon, alateen or families anonymous for family and friends of substance abusers. Check it out, it’s anonymous and you can see for yourself from the stories people share if it will be helpful for you. Take what’s good and leave the rest. To find real time meetings select the issue and include the words “anonymous meetings” and your county and state. A list will come up. If you want someone to go with you to your first meeting we can help with that too.

Here is a really good piece of news: other people have had trouble like yours and found their way through it. It can be done and there are people ready to help you through it now.

Here’s an even better piece of news: whether you believe in God or not, God believes in you and will come to your side to help meet the needs of this crisis, heal and free you. This presence and power of God is called grace. It’s like holy grease, it gets whatever is stuck, unstuck and moves things out into the light and air, space appears and you don’t feel so alone and up against the wall, people appear and they know the way of healing and help. Always remember, help is available. Reach out, phone, email, make contact, there will be someone who responds.

The “Yeah-But Monkey.”

Whatever has happened, whoever is involved, fear can paralyze you when you start looking at problems and pain directly. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by all that seems to need change; or you don’t want your parents to know, or you don’t want to hurt anyone else; or people will not like you taking steps towards health, or maybe there are generations of secrets at stake. Fear can stop you in your tracks. Knowing what it is can be the first step in moving again and finding a way forward.

One tip off that you are in the grip of fear or that your mind has a hold on it, is the presence of the “Yeah But Monkey”. It’s a ferocious little bugger and very tenacious. You’ll know when it is present when every solution or means of coping in a healthy way with whatever is troubling you is met with a “yeah but.” As in: “Yeah lots of people go talk to someone but I can’t because I have school/sports/my parents will find out…” Or, “Yeah other people can talk to the Guidance Counselor but I hate him/her…” Or, Yeah I should get help but we can’t afford it “Or, ”Yeah, but I should be able to do this by myself.” Anything that puts “yeah” and “but” together to stop you from taking action is the “Yeah But Monkey.”

Here’s a fact: the “Yeah But Monkey” is not your friend.

And another fact: The only one who can let go of the Yeah But Monkey is you. Once you make that decision it’s the first big step out of the hopelessness and isolation. Hopelessness and isolation are the other two key signs that the Yeah But Monkey has you.

There is help available. You are not alone. The situation, no matter what it is, is not hopeless. The fact that you are reading this is the first stop on the way to help. Go ahead and take that next step towards the help and the friendship you need. Pick up the phone.

Call someone and start talking, a friend, a parent, an ally who is positive. Misery may love company but don’t call your negative friends first, if you want to get unstuck call your positive people. If one person doesn’t answer, try another. If you want to speak with

Mother Claire Woodley her cell # is 914-260-9689.

 There is help available and you are not alone. Pick up the phone, and until the time comes that we meet together:

“The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord lift up his face to you, be gracious to you and bring you peace. Amen.”



Spiritual Resources for Youth Online:

Daily Spiritual Meditation

Spiritual Practice for Teens

The Episcopal Church’s Youth Ministry