Immaculate Conception Church offers Vacation Bible School
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
FAYETTEVILLE — “It’s fun,” said Gemma Addonizio, second grader at Immaculate Conception School in Fayetteville. She had just attended the second session of Vacation Bible School in Dwyer Hall at Immaculate Conception Church. “We get taught more about Jesus,” said Gemma.
Vacation Bible School was held Aug. 4-8 and proved to be a fun, faith-filled program to a group of over 200 youth that included children from other churches in the surrounding area.
The Vacation Bible School has flourished under the dedicated leadership of Alex Ottaviano, faith formation teacher and parishioner at Immaculate Conception Church for the last four years. “It’s been a really good experience,” said Ottaviano.
The curriculum for this year is entitled Power Lab — Discovering Jesus’ Miraculous Power. This curriculum presents daily Bible stories, includes original music by educator and composer John Burland, promotes Catholic social teaching and raises awareness of various social issues, highlights the lives of Catholic holy women and men and sends children home with a “daily challenge.”
“This year,” Ottaviano said, “The activities remind them that God is good. After doing the scientific and creative activities here this summer, when they see things on TV or in school, they’ll be thinking about God. What they learn here builds community — the kids tell their neighbors and friends about it. You never know whose ears it’s going to fall on.”
Ottaviano said the many volunteers who serve at the school are invaluable. “I tell the volunteers, ‘You are the face of Christ to these kids this week.’”
Volunteer and Immaculate Conception parishioner Nick Ricciardi has served at the school for the last three years. “This is fun,” Ricciardi said. “I enjoy dealing with kids. I feel it’s important to do this.”
The volunteers act as station leaders (college students and adults), crew leaders (older teens) and junior crew leaders (middle school students), guiding the children through four different stations. After participating in an interactive Bible story, the children move on to an arts and crafts session, a science lesson and hyperspeed games. Each day begins with a session in which the entire school gathers for 20 minutes of singing at a session entitled the Sonic Sing and Play. Then, after visiting the four stations, the school gathers for the Faith Fusion Finale. During this time, the message from the Bible story of the day is reinforced through the staging of a short play involving crew leaders. The songs that are sung in this session also reinforce the message. The students are also reminded to do the daily challenge. Examples of the daily challenge might be to clear the table after dinner or to read a book to a younger person.
On the first day of Bible school, the story was taken from Luke 17:11-19 (Jesus heals 10 lepers), with the message of Jesus gives us the power to be thankful. The second day’s Bible story was taken from John 9:1-41 (Jesus gives sight to the blind man) and the message was Jesus gives us the power to help others. On the third day the Bible story of Jesus giving Peter the courage to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33), the message was Jesus gives us the power to be brave. The Bible story on the fourth day was taken from Luke 23:26-24:53 (Jesus dies and rises to life) and the message is Jesus gives us the power to live forever. On the final day of Bible school, the story was taken from Acts 2:1-47 (The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost) and the message is Jesus gives us the power to tell others about God.
Father Thomas Ryan, pastor at Immaculate Conception Church, is happy that the children have the opportunity to attend the Bible school. “They have fun in an exciting environment, but they really learn things,” said Father Ryan.
Ottaviano said the students are especially excited because on Sunday, Aug. 10, at the 9 a.m. Mass, the children will lead the parishioners in the music, prayer and Scripture readings.
“The activities at Bible school get the kids to see that God is with them all the time — this week reminds them of that.”