Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Aug
  • 7

St. Gabe’s teaches about faith in a fun environment

Posted By August 7, 2014 | 12:50 pm | Lead Story #1
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By Laura Lambert
CFP Correspondent

UPTON – The chatter of nearly 200 young people filled the halls of Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church this past week as the Catholic parish of Mendon and Upton welcomed 100 youngsters and more than 80 volunteers to their annual vacation Bible school program.
This year’s pirate theme was a hit not only with the youth, but also with Fathers Laurence V. Brault and Thomas E. Mahoney each of whom were quick to don tri-cornered pirate hats and eye patches.  The youngest children squealed with excitement each time they ran down the stairs to find Father Mahoney waving at them with his hook.
“The church has been so supportive,” said Chris Lochead, co-director of St. Gabriel’s summer program.  “Both Father Mahoney and Father Larry are very supportive and present at camp and it’s great for the kids to see the priests wearing pirate hats and eye patches.  Father Mahoney gets really into it,” she added  “and it’s fun for them to see the priests in that way.”
Each age group was playfully classified using the names of tropical animals like “baby blue belugas,” “golden guppies,” and “green geckos,” and wore colored bandanas to match. Throughout the day, the youth learned about faith through a series of activities including a short class time, Bible stories, and themed crafts, songs and games.
Among the students’ favorite activities was to “Sink the Ship.”  Youngsters collected change from family and friends throughout the week and at the end of each day, piled the change onto a toy ship in the hopes of sinking it into a bucket of water.  The money was then used to purchase goods for local food pantries. This year’s donations have been focused on helping families with school-aged children.
“The ‘Sink the Ship’ is a great visual,” said co-director Mary Lee Siple. “It reminds them to bring in money because they really want to sink the ship and bringing the groceries in and stacking them up shows them the impact that they’re making.”
“I was telling them this morning that this year we’re focusing on kids helping kids,” said Ms. Siple.  “I would never, personally, think of food pantry as being kids; I always just thought of it as senior citizens, but there’s a lot of kids that use it now.”
Over the past five years, they have collected more than $2,600 in change.
In addition to being an opportunity for the youngsters  to experience faith in a fun environment, the week holds meaning to the team of directors as well.
“It means a lot to me as a mom because of my kids – I have two daughters who are counselors here, and two daughters who are campers here,” stated Mrs. Lochead.  “Its a big deal to them.”  She continued, “It’s a way for us to connect with our church community.  It’s a nice way for them to come hear and see that church is a fun place.”
Co-director, Paula Ciccone expressed similar sentiments.
“Being able to be a part of the church and see the kids sing and jump and have fun in church and make a connection is, to me, the most important thing,” she said.