(In the Aug. 2 publication of The Catholic Commentator, a church holding a Vacation Bible School was misidentified. St. Paul the Apostle Church in Baton Rouge should have been the church identified rather than St. Francis Xavier Church in Baton Rouge. Below is the story reprinted in its entirety.)  

By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator 

St. Francis Xavier Church 1.tif

 

St. Paul the Apostle Church in Baton Rouge 

Outside of the school gym at St. Alphonsus of Ligouri Church in Greenwell Springs, the sound of music and voices could be heard. The commotion inside was coming from 250 kids, ages four through 13, separated into groups identified as animals from safari: crocodiles, cheetahs, lions, elephants, etc. Among the deafening noises from this summer Vacation Bible School was a single message of knowing God’s love.  

“The idea is that all of the kids have come to the African savannah and we’re showing them how they can find God there through different animal characters,” said Kaitlyn Johnson, director of VBS at St. Alphonsus.  

At St. Paul the Apostle Church in Baton Rouge, all ages participate in Vacation Bible School in activities sorted by age group.  

“High-schoolers help lead different activities and we have an adult bible study,” said Ladira James, VBS director at St. Paul.  

According to James, the VBS format includes an opening, a rotation of activities, conclusion and a meal, which is provided by the church’s different ministries for the one-week evening event. Among those attending were Makisha Anderson and her two young children, Sydney and Gerald.  

“I love (the adult VBS),” said Anderson. “It’s a good resource especially during the summer. Sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to get to Bible study during the week and this is a good chance to set aside a concentrated period of time and fellowship with one another.  

“I mostly like to do the fun activities,” said Sydney Anderson, a rising fourth-grader. “I always learn a lot from the Bible, too. The crafts are my favorite.”  

At St. Theresa of Avila in Gonzales, Duke Soulier, the youth activity coordinator, also encourages participation for all ages, even if they participate as volunteers. While the program focuses on three-year-olds-to-eighth-graders, volunteers, up to age 20 and beyond are encouraged “to come hang out with us, as long as they take the diocesan requirements for child safety,” according to Soulier. 

“I feel very passionately about it because this is an opportunity for every parishioner of every age, from babies to 90-something year olds, to get togetherand celebrate learning about Jesus and being united in that vision,” Soulier said.  

Soulier also stated that VBS leaders from St. Theresa join forces with those from St. John the Evangelist Church in Prairieville and St. Mark Church in Gonzales to share resources and manpower.  

“We get together at the beginning of the summer and we make the decorations together and plan things together and we share the decorations at each others’ VBS,” said Soulier. “St. John is usually the first one to kick it off in our area. St. Mark’s is this week and at the end of this week, St. Theresa will go and help them take their stuff down so we can bring it over to our campus. It’s a blast, it really is.”  

At St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge, an army of volunteers and organizers played host to more than 300 children during this summer’s VBS program. More than 100 adult volunteers and 50 junior volunteers stepped in to assist. The theme followed the travels of St. Paul and volunteers set up tents throughout the parish hall for the youth. Scripture readings and daily activities focused on that theme, according to Tricia Greely, director of Children Formation at St. Aloysius.  

“Besides it being an important time for our children, it’s also a great opportunity for our volunteers to come in and share their gifts and talents with the children,” said Greely. “We are so blessed to have such wonderful volunteers. That’s what makes this program work.”  

Besides the fun activities at VBS, the children involved in many of the programs are encouraged to participate in community projects whether through donations from the younger kids or service projects for the older ones. </span id=”18″>

“I think the children are happy to do this,” said Greely. “I think they feel like they’re doing something good for somebody else and I think it’s a good way to teach them how to share what they have with somebody else.”  

“Vacation Bible School is important because it gives the youth of our parish an opportunity to be engaged and entertained while learning about Jesus Christ. VBS offers an avenue for children and teens to become immersed in the stories of the Bible while giving back to our church community of St. George,” said Catherine Alford, director of Child Faith Formation at St. George Church in Baton Rouge.  

“The kids have been really engaged,” said Johnson. “A lot of them are just loving it. When we come together each morning our leader helps the kids remember those moments that they saw God. It’s been such an awesome response each morning to hear those stories.” 

St. Aloysius.tif

St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge