7/25/12 | 494 views
Children at Spring Valley Parish Spend ‘Summer With Jesus’
What if a summer program geared to boys and girls began with a prayer? What if it integrated God and the message of the Gospel into every activity? Such fun and games and faith are at the heart of St. Joseph’s parish in Spring Valley, and the children love it.
“Summer With Jesus” runs June 25 to Aug. 3 and offers an array of activities for the 190 youngsters attending. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the children participate in arts and crafts, gym exercises and music lessons and they receive catechetical instruction throughout.
“This instruction is the foundation for the sacramental life of the families,” said Father Patrick Adekola, a parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s.
The summer session operates under the auspices of the parish religious education program. “We try hard to bring Jesus alive in their lives, that it’s not just in the building that you carry Christ with you,” said Maureen Foley, the parish’s coordinator of religious education.
It seems as though there is something for everyone, including a session that transforms the youths into thespians. Every Wednesday, the students perform parables and biblical stories for their peers, capping off their theatrics with the donning of crowns and capes to convey biblical characters.
Cassandra Ostine, 11, said that although each skit takes a long time to prepare, the budding actors and actresses bond during practices.
When asked which part of the day was her favorite, 11-year-old Maddie Amadi admitted it was difficult to choose. “I like activities where we jazz up our classroom,” she said, referring to the art classes the students enjoy each afternoon. From creating a passport for pretend travel to places found in Scripture to illustrating the seven days of creation, there is much for the young adventurers to explore.
The gym reverberates with the squeaking of sneakers and jovial snickers as the cafeteria bustles with hungry youngsters. Patrick Charles-Pierre, 12, said he likes best the gym period and recess where he is able to unwind after a long day of classroom instruction.
And while some children believe the classes take away from their typical carefree feeling of summer, a number of their peers absorb the impact of the life-changing lessons.
Kimberly Juarez, 15, enrolled in the summer classes to help prepare herself for confirmation. Now that she is older, she says she better understands what the Church teaches, such as the Real Presence “of Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist.”
The summer session has also availed those scheduled to receive confirmation in September the opportunity to collect community service hours. Kervin Fortune, 13, helps prepare the gym and assists teachers in the classrooms.
The program’s faculty and staff are comprised of parishioner volunteers who have already received the sacrament of confirmation, some more recently than others.
“This is my closeness to God, ” said 21-year-old Sophia Cadichon, a returning volunteer of five years.
Randy Almonte, 17, teaches students how to worship God in the class titled “We Worship.” He said his favorite part of the summer offering is that it brings together diverse groups of children who may not otherwise spend time with one another.
The program unites under one roof a parish that offers Mass in four languages—English, Spanish, Creole and Polish—and encourages its members, both the young and the young at heart, to spiritually grow in the faith.
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