SM Therese Chmura CSSF, director of faith formation, planned and facilitated Vacation Bible School at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lancaster, NY during the week of July 11.
An extended archway covered with white sheer curtains became the entrance into “heaven” for the program. The children moved aside white streamers to enter this sacred space. Inside, a very talented teen from the parish played a violin, since a harpist was not readily available!
The live appearance of a dressed-up saint was the focus of each day. Joachim and Ann (an elderly couple from the parish) spoke about raising Mary and provoked a discussion about respecting and honoring the elderly. Then, the children were assigned to small rotating groups for crafts, outdoor activities, song and snack, all based on the theme of the day. A very competent team of adults led each of the sessions.
On the second day, Mary and Joseph (two teens from the parish) focused on following the will of God. Kateri Tekawitha arrived on the third day. She was played by a parishioner, a native American who became a baptized Catholic at the age of 22. She brought along some of the items used for ceremonies on the reservation and the children joined in a native American dance. On the fourth day, Father Joe Bayne, OFM, Conv,. appeared as St. Francis of Assisi.
In addition to the guest saints, the children named their favorite saints followed by discussions about them. Sister Therese explained that the 75 plus participants, including children and teen helpers, were filled with enthusiasm as they talked about the saints they know.
On Friday, a pot luck family picnic took place, during which parents viewed a slide show of the week and children sang the songs they learned. Parishioners donated various pins, medals, key chains, and holy pictures of saints that the children took home with them on Friday.