This past week we had our annual Vacation Bible School here. The theme this year was “Jesus, You are my Superhero”. The children learned that Jesus is better than Spiderman, Superman, and Batman. He is a superhero and a best friend.
Each day, the children learned one Bible verse, one Bible story, and one Saint. Each Bible verse was set to music and learned as a song. For instance, on Tuesday we learned 1 John 4.7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” Our Bible story for that day was the Good Samaritan who showed what love of neighbor means. Our Saint that day was Blessed Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa) who exemplified that love of neighbor in her own life.
We had 153 children, preschool through 4th grade, attend each day, our largest year yet. We are very grateful to the many people who helped make this week happen. To name a few, Molly Willaert and Jessyka Williams were our co-leaders, Mary Rownd led preschool, Megan Rodriguez led the beginning and closing sessions, Cindy Krueger designed and printed the art, and it was all organized by Maggie DeStazio. Many other parents and adult leaders also helped, and as usual, a large contingent of St. John School student volunteers, including many 8th graders who just graduated from our school, made sure that all the children got where they needed to go and had everything they needed. Thank you also to all the parents who brought their children each morning for this great opportunity.
There are other events in Rochester this summer for students with time off from school, such as Totus Tuus (grades 1-12) this coming week at St. Francis and again in July at Resurrection, and the Steubenville North Youth Conference for high school students at the Civic Center in July. Also in July is the GS Vacation for high school students. This week, at the seminary in Winona, there is Quo Vadis Days, a four day vocation camp for young men in high school. In August, middle school students can go to Camp Summit. This is in addition to all of the continuing groups we have here at St. John the Evangelist: LOFT, Girl Genius, Jr. Johnnies, and others.
But as wonderful as opportunities like this are, the education of children in the faith must begin at home. Parents are the primary educators of their children. These weeklong events are only meaningful in the context of families that pray together before meals and before bed, who come to Mass together, and build up the other traditions of our faith. We can teach many things about Jesus, but that is nothing compared to what a child learns when they see their parents believe and worship him. Families are the foundation of society, and the building blocks of our Church. Everything we do here at St. John the Evangelist is to support adults in their faith and parents in passing on their faith.
The Church will always stand strong, because it is founded on St. Peter and our head is Jesus Christ. Jesus promised not only that the Church would always remain, but that “not even the gates of hell will prevail against it.” Nevertheless, we cannot rest from including others in the Church. We must preach the Gospel to the ends of the world, and not only the ends of the world but also in our own homes. Preaching with words when they are helpful, but always by our actions, without which the words are empty.