Vacation Bible School can be an inspiring faith-filled experience for all adults, youth, and children involved. Finding the perfect VBS to meet the needs of Catholic families is usually challenging. I would like to share a few Catholic VBS resources CRE’s have identified as useful and some ideas for a Catholic experience in an ecumenical format. All questions regarding VBS must be referred to the AMS endorsed priest.
Catholic Kidz Camp is a totally Catholic Vacation Bible School. The program is featuring Saint Patrick and the Holy Trinity this year. It includes music CD’s as well as a CD with clip art, helpful forms, bulletin announcements, etc. The program is produced bywww.growingwiththesiants.com. In addition to Saint Patrick and the Holy Trinity, it includes the following programs:
1. The Vatican Express with St. Jerome (papacy, St. Peter, and a service project for Peter’s Pence)
2. Parade around the Our Father with St. Joseph Cupertino (prayer, and a service project to honor priests)
3. Assorted Saints and the Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love (different saint every day: Saints Kateri Tekakwitha, Nicholas, Brigid, Juan Diego, and Martin de Porres
www.K4J.org and Totally Catholic VBS by Our Sunday Visitor (http://vbs.osv.com) are two additional resources suggested for your consideration.
Standard 9 of the AMS Forming Disciples for the New Evangelization: Archdiocesan Religion Curriculum Guide states: Understand and participate in the call of the Church to be a sign of unity in the world through knowledge of and collaboration with other Catholic (Eastern), Orthodox, and Christian churches. Catholics are called to be a sign of unity and to collaborate with other Christians. Catholics have an opportunity to witness to their Catholic faith during the ecumenical VBS . Adults, youth, and children are disciples and evangelists, bearing witness to the person of Jesus Christ.
Catholic adult catechists should be involved in the planning and execution of the ecumenical VBS to accompany Catholic participants and to explain the beliefs of the Catholic faith when these are not met by the VBS program.
The family is the first place where faith is learned, lived, and interpreted (GDC, no. 226-27). Therefore, parents are to be involved in the process as primary educators of the faith of their children. Catholic families should have a gathering before and another after the VBS program. The first family gathering should provide an overview of the program and raise awareness of the role of the family in the faith of their children. They should receive a list of topics covered during the program and resources parents can use to reinforce the Catholic teaching at home. The gathering after the program should focus on celebrating the accomplishments and to review the success of the program. What else did the parents need to teach the faith at home? Catechists can invite the children to share what they learned in VBS.
Finally, help families connect faith and life. Remind parents to use the AMS Family Faith Assessment online to continue the VBS experience at home. VBS is only one component of the person’s life-long faith formation process.
How can we as Catholic leaders help families have a Catholic experience in an ecumenical VBS?