Religious Education in Realm


Realm is a great tool for managing your religious education or faith formation program. Administrators and users with permission can:
  • Define the hierarchy of religious education programs
  • Create groups to support each program, and identify the leaders and members
  • Establish group meetings and events, and track attendance
  • Share resources with leaders and participants, and set up group communication
  • Track sacramental details, and print certificates and inter-church notifications
  • Manage check-in/check-out to ensure child safety
  • Track registrations and payments at the beginning of the year
  • Promote groups of individuals at the end of the year
  • Manage catechists and track their progression
  • Generate informative reports for groups

Additional Help and Training

This document is an overview of using Realm for religious education. We also offer comprehensive documentation and eLearning. From any product page, you can:
  • Click the help icon to view how-to help articles with steps.
  • Click the MinistrySmart icon to find in-depth learning courses.

The pages in this guide include related help titles at the bottom. Use the help icon in Realm to locate these.

Define Your Hierarchy

Ministry areas and groups form the foundation of your religious education management. You can define groups in your hierarchy to support early childhood, school-aged children, adults, sacramental preparation, and so on.

Adding Ministry Areas

Start by defining a top-level ministry area named "Faith Formation", "Religious Education", or the name you use for your program. Then, identify a leader for the top-level ministry area. This is usually the Director of Religious Education or a similarly titled individual.

You can specify how groups communicate within this ministry area through posts, events, and photos on the News Feed, as well as private messaging. Determine which communication methods are appropriate for the groups in this ministry area.
Figure 1. Example of a top-level ministry area called Faith Formation
Faith Formation ministry area screen
Once you establish a top-level ministry area, you can add sub-ministry areas to further categorize your program structure. Some examples include "Sacrament Preparation", "Preschool", "Elementary", "Middle", "High School", and "Adult".
Figure 2. Example of a ministry area structure
Ministry area structure

Adding Leaders

Each sub-ministry area can also have a leader. This might be the Director of Religious Education or someone who works under them. You can add leadership roles for "Coach", "Assistant Coach", "Team Leader", "Mentor", "Prayer Leader", "Catechist", "Substitute Catechist", and so on.

Adding Attributes

Set up attribute tags to track and search on each individual's skills, traits, and roles. These must be set at the top-level ministry area in order to use them for group leaders and members.

Create Groups

A group is a set of individuals who meet together on a regular basis.

Student Groups

For each of your classes/sessions, add a new group under the appropriate category. You can set up groups by grade levels, ages, or any other organizational method that makes sense for your program.

Catechist Groups

You can also manage catechists with groups. Create a top-level ministry area that represents "Certified Catechists". Then create groups for each level, and place catechists into the one that their certification indicates.

Hidden Groups

If you want to allow only group leaders and users with permission to view certain groups, you can hide a group. This is also a great option for sensitive or discrete information, like recovery groups.

Note that hidden groups do not display during check-in.

Identify Group Leaders and Members

Set up your catechists, mentors, and coaches as the leaders, and add your students as participants.

Adding an Individual

You can manually add a group leader or group member from the Participants tab. If the individual isn't in Realm yet, you can send them an invite to join Realm and your group.
Figure 3. Example of adding a person to a group
Add Person option on the Participants tab

Adding Multiple People

Alternatively, you can use a custom query to gather individuals with common criteria, and use the report results to add several people to the group at once.

Establish Group Events

Groups may meet on a regular basis and have special events that individuals can attend.

Adding a Primary Meeting

For each group, set up a recurring event as the primary meeting. This is the time and place where they regularly gather. For example, a formation class meets every Tuesday at 4:00 for the week's lesson.

Adding Other Events

Add recurring events or one-time meetings as needed. These can appear on the calendar in Realm.
Figure 4. Example of the calendar events for a group
Group events on the Events tab

Track Group Attendance

Once events are established, you can record group attendance. Select the individuals who were present, and include any additional guests who attended in the final head count.
Figure 5. Example of marking attendance for a group
Marking attendance on the Attendance screen

Share Resources

Use the Resources tab to share files and links with the group participants and leaders. These might be YouTube or Vimeo videos, lesson plans, homework, study materials, and prayers.
Figure 6. Example of sharing a video with a group
Video shared with the group on the Resources tab
Participants can view these files by logging in to Realm using their web browser or the app on their iOS or Android mobile device.

Communicate with Group Participants

If you enable communication for a ministry area, leaders and group members can communicate in different ways.

One way is to send an email using Realm. Note that if a group member has a family position of Child, their parents also receive the message.

Other communication methods include sharing a post, photo, or event to the group's News Feed. Individuals can message each other, the entire group, or just some members.
Figure 7. Example of communication settings for a group
Communication settings for a group

Track Sacraments

Realm tracks details for Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. You can customize these to use on parishioner records.

Setting Up Sacraments

First, set up the sacraments you want to track. If you don't track one, you can disable it.

Recording Sacraments

Once sacraments are enabled, you can record them on an individual's profile.
Figure 8. Example of tracking baptism details on a profile
Baptism information on an individual's Sacraments tab

Print Certificates and Notifications

You can print certificates for Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, and RCIA. The Baptism certificate, if printed two-sided, has a form on back for recording future sacraments.

If someone was baptized elsewhere, you can also print a notification letter to send to the church of baptism. Notifications are available for First Communion, Confirmation, and Marriage.
Figure 9. Example of printing from a sacrament record
Print options for Confirmation on an individual's Sacraments tab

Manage Child Check-In

Establish check-in kiosks to manage children during drop-off and pickup.
Figure 10. Example of how check-in/check-out works
Diagram of login and badging, drop-off, and pickup

Setting Up Check-In

First, make sure the device(s) you want to use for check-in meet the requirements. Then, you're ready to set up a kiosk for each group. Select which groups and events require check-in processes.

Print security badges at check-in to match against parents during pickup. This way, you ensure children leave with the same individual who brought them. You can also customize badges.
Figure 11. Example of editing a badge template
Badge template customization options


Once you have everything set up, you're ready to launch the kiosk for an event.
Figure 12. Example of launching a kiosk
Options for a kiosk on the Kiosks tab
Figure 13. Example of Child Check-in page
Check-in screen with onscreen keyboard

Track Registrations and Payments

At the start of the program year, use registration events to manage the sign-up and payment process.

Creating Events

Create a registration event for each class/session in the upcoming year. You can also create events that require payment to attend. To accept online payments, make sure you set up a deposit account.

Pricing and Discounts

Create different registration types for each unique pricing tier. Examples include "Parishioner Rate", "Non-Parishioner Rate", "Staff Rate", and so on. You can set the price for each registrant type.

Establish optional discounts for things like early registrations, group discounts, promotional codes, and a total cost cap.

Getting Additional Information

Use the Add Questions tab to ask for additional information, such as t-shirt size or meal preference.

Publishing and Sharing

Once you create an event, use the Share menu to make the registration process visible to everyone, set the Public Registration starting and ending dates, and choose if it should appear on the News Feed.

Use the shareable link, embedded HTML, or QR code when promoting the registration via email, website, print, and other methods.

People can register and pay directly through Realm. Parents can register their children.

Adding Attendees to a Group

At the conclusion of the registration process, use a custom query to search for people with "Event Name is equal to <name>". Then, use the report results to add these people to a group.

Promote Groups and Individuals

Some groups naturally progress together over the years. Use the Promotion process to advance entire groups at a time. For example, 10th grade to 11th grade, 11th grade to 12th grade, and so on.
Figure 14. Example of setting up promotion for a group
Promoting 10th Grade to 11th Grade, 11th Grade to 12th Grade, and 12th Grade to Young Adults on the Setup tab

Setting Up Promotion Tracks

First, set up promotion tracks to link classes that promote from one to another.

Approving Members

Next, you can select and approve class members for promotion.

Promoting Classes

Finally, you can promote all your groups of classes at one time.

Manage Catechists

Catechists can be managed with groups. Create a top-level ministry area for "Certified Catechists", then create groups for each level. Place catechists into each group based on their certification.
Figure 15. Example of groups for catechists certification levels
Certified Catechists ministry area with groups called Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4

Track Catechist Progression

Use pathways to manage catechists who are in the process of becoming certified at a higher level.

Setting Up Pathways

Set up a pathway for each catechist certification level. Add unordered steps for each of the required and elective classes.
Figure 16. Example of unordered steps in a pathway
Unordered steps on the Steps tab of the pathway
Add individuals to the pathway who are undergoing training.

Managing Catechist Progression

As catechists successfully finish each required step, mark it complete in the pathway.

All electives must be marked as complete to exit the pathway, so be sure to add a note to indicate which classes were or were not taken.
Figure 17. Example of a note on a pathway step for an individual
Completed steps for an individual with a note on the People tab
When the individual has completed all steps in the pathway, add them to the appropriate Certified Catechist group you set up.
Figure 18. Example of moving a completed pathway participant to a group
Options for selected participants on the People tab

Run Group Reports and Queries

There are several ways to gather data about your groups.

Group Reports

Reports are available from the group's main page. Click the more options menu (...) to print a Marking Sheet, Roster, or Export Roster (.csv).
Figure 19. Example of locating reports from a group's profile
Options for printing reports from the profile

Marking Sheet

You can print attendance sheets for a single group or for multiple groups.
Figure 20. Example of the marking sheet for a group
Marking sheet showing group members down the left with meetings in each column

Roster and Export Roster (.csv)

You can print your group roster or export it.
Figure 21. Example of the roster report
Roster report showing group members' contact information
Figure 22. Example of the roster export file
CSV file showing group members' contact information

Other Predefined Reports

Several other reports are available under Reporting > Predefined Reports, then click the Groups tab. These include Roster, Roster Totals, Attendance, and Marking Sheet.
Figure 23. Example of the other reports
Examples of the Roster, Roster Totals, Attendance, and Marking Sheet

Custom Queries

If none of these meet your needs, create new reports under Reporting > Custom Query.

Start by entering the selection criteria for "Ministry Area is equal to" and specify the area that contains the group to print. Click Add More Criteria, and refine the query with "Group is equal to <Group Name>". Add any additional criteria lines, if needed.
Figure 24. Example of custom query for members and leaders in the Teens United in Faith group
Custom query where the selections Ministry Area is equal to High School, Group is equal to Teens United in Faith, and Roster Type is equal to Member and Leader
Click Show Results to get a list of participants that match your query. Click Edit Columns to include additional information in the report or reorder columns.

Print and Share Options

Click the printer icon to generate different layouts and output types. Click Save As to keep this report under your saved reports. That way, you can easily run it again or share it with others.


This was an overview of how to use Realm for RE. Of course, you can use all of the features discussed in this document or a select few, depending on your needs.

Check out the help documentation and training courses for more in-depth instructions. At the top-right of your Realm window, click the help icon the question mark icon or the MinistrySmart icon the MinistrySmart icon.