Kids 'Get' Missionary Message at VBS Presentation

Posted: 10/10/2011

Glenmary Father Steve Pawelk gives a mission education presentationIt's important for us to make children aware of missionaries and their work," says Allison Barrett, Glenmary's mission education and ministry office coordinator. "And whenever we have the chance, we like to talk to them about Glenmary's work in our country and ways they can help." 

So when she was invited to make a mission education presentation on July 1 for a Vacation Bible School at St. Bernard of Clairvaux parish in Cincinnati, she was ready and eager to go. And she asked Father Steve Pawelk to be her co-presenter.

According to Barbara Yoder, the parish coordinator of religious education, "We invited Glenmary because this year's VBS (ages 4-8) had a missionary theme of ‘Win the World for Jesus.'" Also, for the past 10 years, Glenmary has been hosting another mission education program each spring for the school's third and fourth graders.

To get the kids involved, Allison and Father Steve created an activity based on Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan. As Allison read the story, Father Steve helped the kids act it out, using some props he provided.

Besides the main character roles, one child took on the role of a donkey, other kids made an inn with their bodies, and some even posed as the sides of the road and bumps in the road.

Barbara recalls, laughing, that "they had all 55 kids involved. And the kids really got it!"

"It was a lot of fun," says Father Steve, "and I think they also understood the message that helping others is the right thing to do."

After the skit, to relate it to the VBS theme, Allison and Father Steve showed the children photos of Glenmary missionaries in action.

"I told them we are all called to help and love others," Father Steve says, "and that the pictures showed some ways Glenmary missionaries help people." They also talked about prejudice—and how, in the story, a person whom some people didn't like was the one who helped the injured man.

Finally, the two taught the children a simple song Allison wrote to the tune of "Frère Jacque," about being missionaries for Jesus and spreading God's love.

"We thought they did a great job," says Barb. "The kids really enjoyed it and learned some important lessons, too." During their free time that week, the children had also collected donations and earned money for Glenmary. After the program, they gave their combined gift to Allison and Father Steve, who thanked them for being so generous and told them Glenmary missionaries would use this gift to help others.

If parishes in your area would like Glenmary to provide programs for children, they can contact Allison at 800-935-0975, ext. 7440.

This article appeared in the Autumn 2011 Home Mission News.