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Singing and learning about God at St. Peter’s

Posted By July 11, 2013 | 12:47 pm | Local
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By Jessica Valera
CFP Correspondent

NORTHBRIDGE– The words “We are the church, happy to be the children in God’s family” were softly sung by a group of boys and girls in third, fourth, and fifth grade.
They were happily coloring a related message, “I will make you fishers of men,” bringing along a song from music class.
They were among 35 children who gathered each day for a week in the midst of summer heat at St. Peter’s Church. June 23-28 the parish held its Loreto Summer Program for youth in kindergarten through fifth grade, as part of its religious education program. It engaged the young people in various activities throughout the day, including inspirational crafts, videos, music, recess, and, yes, lessons.
“My favorite part of the program is craft time and music,” Katie Murray, second grade, said. “We get to sing songs about the Church and make crafts about what we are learning.”
“It’s a fun program; I like music time and going outside for recess,” Dominic Ortiz, third grade, said. “It’s nice to sing and learn about God.”
“The crafts and everything we do here is fun,” Kelsey Boewell, third grade, said. “I always look forward to coming.”
The program, which runs on a 3-year cycle of Scripture, Creed, and Church, is currently in the Church cycle, and best suits the religious education needs of the parish, according to Patty Corkum, religious education coordinator grades K-5.
“It has set lesson plans, but leaves a lot of room for creativity,” she said. Depending on the lesson plan, each day an environment relating to what the children are learning is created, according to Mrs. Corkum.
“If we will be talking about Moses and the Ten Commandments, I will set up tablets, Mount Sinai, the burning bush, etc., or if we are talking about the travels of the apostles, the whole gym will be transformed into roads with messages of the Gospels,” she said. “The children at this age level are visual learners and concrete thinkers and they need to be able to see what they are learning as well as hearing. It helps to reinforce what they are learning if they can actually interact with the environment.”
Leeann Hansson, Youth Minister and LIFETEEN Coordinator for the parish, led the music for the children. And junior high and high school students who are part of the parish EDGE and LIFETEEN programs, also volunteered during the Loreto Summer Program week, helping with teaching lessons, managing the cafeteria during lunch and snack times, and playing with the children at recess.
“I taught kindergarten last year and I’m helping out again this year,” said LIFETEEN member Meagan Brouwer, 16. “I really do enjoy it, and the best part is seeing the kids get excited over learning something new and having fun.”
Father James F. Carmody, pastor of St. Peter’s, has an active role with the students as well.
“I start them off in the morning with prayer,” he  said. “It’s nice because I know each one of them.”
In addition to the Summer Loreto Program week, monthly gathering days are held on Sundays from October through April or May. They begin with the children coming together to share stories from over the past month, to celebrate birthdays, and to share involvement in altar serving or other ministries within the church, according to Mrs. Corkum.
They meet from 9:15 to 10:45 a.m., then attend Mass, where the children greet parishioners, read the Scriptures, take up the collection and bring up the gifts. Their participation in the Mass “is a wonderful sense of church community,” Mrs. Corkum said.
“We are truly blessed here at St. Peter’s Parish to have this program,” she said. “If
the children come here and learn about their faith and have fun while doing it, that is a successful program and one that is driven by the Holy Spirit.”