Every year, my children look forward to the Parish VBS (Vacation Bible School) Program. They enjoy the fellowship, the songs, the arts and crafts and my older children look forward to putting on the plays. I have always been fairly satisfied with the VBS program, but felt it was missing something. I wrote about this last year in my column, Catechist Know-How (OSV online).
Most VBS programs used in Catholic Parishes are just Protestant programs with Catholic inserts. There is little that make them uniquely Catholic, and as a result, one VBS program is much like another. The danger here is that more and more Catholic families are sending their children to non-Catholic programs. Many of these programs overtly or covertly discourage Catholicism and deny the true faith. Then along came the VBS program, Growing with the Saints!
This summer’s program, Parachute with the Angels and St. Catherine Laboure, is a Catholic VBS program developed by Catholics for Catholics.
The VBS received the Imprimatur from the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend . The Bishop D’Arcy commended the creators of the program on their, “worthwhile endeavor”.
Parachute with the Angels is well organized, with all the program information fitting into two clearly organized and labeled binders. What makes this program so different is that they have daily Bible stories with themed lessons, and information about St. Catherine as companion material, fully integrated throughout the entire VBS Program. While learning Scripture, students are also developing an understanding of Catholic Tradition. The Catholic Church gave the world the Bible, it can be understood most properly when it is viewed from the perspective of Church teaching.
By combining Scripture and Tradition this program highlights aspects of Catholic faith that are ignored in other VBS programs, helping to dispel many misunderstandings about the Church that Catholics and non-Catholics alike may have. As Catechists we are often asked, ” Why do Catholics pray to the Saints? Why not just talk directly to God?” Well, the Bible instructs us to ask righteous people to pray for us, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:15,16 This program teaches children to do just that, after all, who is more righteous than a person deemed by the Church to already be living in heaven as a Saint?!
This summer, children will learn the story of St. Catherine Laboure in a beautifully written and illustrated book about her. They will be encouraged to follow the examples of the Saints in their own lives and rely on the assistance of angels as well.
I have been a catechist off and on for 30 years (I started at 14 as an First Communion Class teaching assistant), and I think this is a wonderful VBS program. The information and activities are age appropriate, organized, and easy to understand. There is a delightful CD of songs for the children to learn and enjoy. I believe this program will help children to grow in their Catholic faith, develop a relationship with Christ and have a lot of fun in the process. I highly recommend the Growing with the Saints Vacation Bible School Programs. For more information contact, www.growingwiththesaints.com.