Catholic Vacation Bible School Exceeds Expectations
Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
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A parish uses its members' gifts and talents to put on a successful "Kids for Jesus" Catholic Vacation Bible School.
"This is the best thing we have done this summer! When I told my 3 boys they were going to attend VBS, all I heard was complaining. After the first day, they couldn't wait to go back again!"
Laurie Harper - Parishioner
The need it meets
Our parish is in the Bible Belt, where Protestant churches offer dynamic VBS programs that entice our children and families away from our Church. A totally Catholic Vacation Bible School gave us a much needed alternative. It was user-friendly and fun, focused on teaching participants about their Catholic faith, virtue, and the saints, and was true to the Magisterium. We didn't have to labor over trying to create a program from scratch.
Where it came from
Vicki Gable, DRE of Holy Family Catholic Church, wanted a Catholic Vacation Bible School (CVBS). During the search process she discovered the K4J (Kids for Jesus) VBS (www.K4J.org). K4J is a service of the Regnum Christi Movement.
How it works
The CVBS lasts for a week and takes place in the mornings. The activities are broken into small group "station" activities and large group assemblies.
- Small Groups are divided by age level (from 3 years to 8th grade).
- Kids in grades 5-8 are "Captains". They meet at "Expedition Headquarters" to arrange special performances at "Exploration Hall" and to take a leadership role in various aspects of the program, based on their interests.
- In the daily large group assembly kids learn the day's Gospel passage and focus-point, sing K4J Songs, watch a skit about the day's saint and receive instruction on the daily "mission" project.
- Small groups rotate through 5 exciting stations: 1)Missionaries in Motion - kids learn to put their faith into action; 2)Get Moving - indoor and outdoor games and fun; 3)Cool Craft - crafts with a mission; 4)Snacks - fun and tasty treats; 5)Celebration Preparation - preparation for the closing day's liturgy, CVBS show and carnival.
- All participants attend a daily Closing Assembly for wrap-up and closing prayer.
- As an add on to the program, our parishioners offered a Hospitality Room for parents and grandparents, providing coffee and donuts as well as a Gospel reflections for those who wanted to stay while their children were in the VBS.
- The DRE was aware of each step in the CVBS process and came each day, providing great support.
- Prayer and support by our pastor was a key success factor. Father is invited to attend one day for a Q&A session with the children.
- A structured plan was necessary to put all pieces together for the CVBS. The outline of this was provided by K4J.
- A well-organized and creative parishioner played a key role in putting together a team of teachers and volunteers.
- K4J has 4 actual VBS programs, allowing for a four year rotation.
- K4J is comparable in cost to similar Protestant programs. By charging a fee of $10-$15 per child, the CVBS pays for itself. We actually made money for our Religious Education Department.
How to implement it
- Priest and DRE need to make decision to provide CVBS for the Parish.
- Select a week for CVBS that will fit well into the parish calender.
- Priest makes announcements after Masses to help boost enrollment.
- DRE selects organized parishioner to coordinate CVBS.
- Order K4J program from www.catholickidsnet.org.
- CVBS coordinator selects 2-3 teachers/volunteers per class. including the nursery, which is provided for the children (ages 4 and under) of the teachers/volunteers.
- Promote (announcements at Masses, fliers in bulletins, decorated registration table, early set up - about 4 weeks prior to CVBS).
- Coordinator has 2 meetings with CVBS staff prior to CVBS, uniting them in the mission and goals of the week.
- Coordinator and DRE are in continuous communication over details of event and most importantly, to pray.
Father Timothy Fuller is pastor of