It’s summer, and most Catholic parishes have shifted to vacation mode. Mass attendance is down, the choir is off for a few months and any special events are limited to parish picnics or block parties.
But our Protestant brothers and sisters are preparing for one of their busiest weeks of the year. Instead of taking a vacation from religious education for children, many churches offer a weeklong extravaganza of fun and learning, also known as Vacation Bible School, or VBS.
Around here, older folks raised in small rural parishes without a school remember religious education classes held in the summer. The nuns would take up temporary residence in the parish, I don’t know how long the classes were, or how many times a week they met.
There was a convent close to where we lived, so we had classes on Saturday mornings for elementary. Classes were Wednesday evening for high school. Summer school for religious education sounds better, and they probably got a more concentrated experience.
Catholic VBS is actually fairly common, in my experience. Our neighbors taught us the “Jesus loves me” song. I thought it was pretty cool.
We are very fortunate to offer Vacation Bible Study Classes in my Parish every year. They are always well attended.
My daughter attended a Protestant- curriculum VBS at a Catholic parish. It was just “okay” and could have been much better.
Our parish has a very small VBS, as we are a small church. We’ve actually had a few Catholic children attend.
Vacation Bible School around here is very common in Catholic parishes, and some small parishes will team up with larger ones, or even with Protestant churches, rotating years. These are generic Bible lessons suitable for younger children, and they love it.
I went to a school Mass once where the new priest questioned the kids on the Bible, and was so delighted that they were able to answer every question. I am very proud that our kids know the Bible so well.
Our parish offer bible classes during the day, most attendants are elderly, and at night for students and working adults. During homily our priest and Deacon will refer to bible verses, something others fail to do. I do imagine that one day all catholics join in for bible study, as attendance is really low at this point in our lives.
Our church is teaming up with the local LCMS church which has a bigger facility and more children for ours to have fun and learn with. I’m taking my 4 year old nephew and hoping he’ll get a better understanding of why we go to church. His parents don’t so I take him to mine - He doesn’t understand yet about praying. He only knows that when people stand up we should stand up, too. Sometimes my body doesn’t cooperate so I stay seated - He’ll whisper loudly that I need to stand up! I’m thankful that there is a VBS to take him to and pray that he will begin to understand.
My parish started doing VBS about 3 or 4 years ago using what is (apparently) a Catholic VBS curriculum. This year, we’ve expanded it, and are doing one week of English VBS followed by one week of Spanish VBS.
Part of the thing problem, historically, in the past, was that it was extremely difficult to find Vacation Bible School curricula written for Catholics. While VBS is all nice and good, Catholics need more than just “Jesus loves me” in the curriculum.
this is what my parish uses
It has for the kids and then it has for high school aged teens.
VBS is a staple in the southern Protestant churches. When I was growing up in the 60’s early 70’s. …there was no such thing as VBS within the confines 8f the Catholic Church in my western New England town in MA. When we visited mom’s side of the family in SC …my grandmother 's Baptist Church and my cousins Pentecostal church had them…and my siblings and I attended. The Catholic parishes 8n the Charleston Diocese did not have VBS. Sad really. We also attended Sunday school there in the summer…because again in the Catholic Church CCD ended in May. For the teens during the summer and ALL year long there was Sunday Night Live at the Baptist Church. …also heavily attended by Catholic teens. During the school year after my CCD class…on Sunday evening. …they walked over to the Baptist Church for Sunday Night Live two blocks away. Hotdogs. …chips…popcorn. …music…Bible Study. I would say the Catholuc Church could take a page out 8f this book. The mentality is…“after Confirmation. …I’m done until I get married”. Meantime EVERY Sunday all year long the Protestant churches are packed to the brim after Sunday service with folks from infancy to senior citizens in separate Sunday school classes until about noon-one o’clock. Middle school…high school…college age…young marrieds…married couples with kids …empty nesters…and senI or citizens. Oh and the ate all back again on Sunday evening. …and again on Wednesday evenings…several years ago the Catholic Parishes started to get smart and moved all CCD classes to Wednesday. I wonder why? However they kept the Confirmation classes and the teens (after Confirmation ) classes on Sunday. …but earlier than the 7:30 pm start 8f Sunday Night Live just a few blocks away. During the summer months…that is where you would find the Catholic teens…or they would be at the Episcopal church…which also had great programs…and akin to the Catholic Church (somewhat).
Many public schools do not schedule after-school activities one day a week, so families can send their kids to religious education programs on that night. Sometimes they also get a reprieve on homework assignments.
Yes they do. However scheduling on Wednesday was a result to keep the Catholic kids from going to the Protestant prayer services. And still the Church doesn’t offer much during the summer in the smaller areas of the Diocese. Back 8n the day…I would have welcomed parent help and assistance…but they would just drop them off and take off for an hour. Sometimes I would bring the kids home that weren’t going to Sundat Night Live. Of the 30 kids I had…only 2 parents introduced themselves to me. And this was Confirmation class.
My parish has several options for religious education. We have regular faith formation classes on Monday and Wednesday afternoons (with an optional parent group starting this year), Middle school classes Wednesday evening, family catechesis on Tuesday evenings (parent attendance required), family catechesis in Spanish on Thursday evenings (parent attendance required), Sunday afternoon family faith (1x per month at the parish, with a second meeting scheduled each month in family groups - parent attendance required), and Confirmation classes Sunday afternoons (ends with Sunday evening Mass; Confirmation classes in Spanish are held on Thursday evenings at the same time as the other Spanish catechism classes). Children are signed up for one class only, and it’s up to the parents to decide which day would work best for them.
Here, you cannot hold/schedule a school event after 6pm on a Wed, and must release by 6:30.