The air in the gymnasium of the former St. Joseph the Worker School in Liverpool was charged with excitement July 10 as 60 children from Pre-K to fifth grade began their last day of a fun-filled week of Vacation Bible School.
“Vacation bible school is the best,” enthused fifth grader Cameron Williamson. He said he came to VBS (Vacation Bible School), his second year in a row, to “learn about Jesus and God.”
VBS aims to bring youth closer to God and the church and to evangelize them, said director Amy Wojcikowski.
VBS offers a unique opportunity to expand the faith formation program that she directs at St. Joseph the Worker and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Liverpool, Wojcikowski said.
“It continues the faith formation program in a less structured way, providing them the opportunity to learn about the Bible stories and partake in activities that show children the joy of God’s words,” she explained.
The theme of this year’s VBS was “Hometown Nazareth, Where Jesus was a Kid.”
“They have been learning stories about Jesus as a child,” said Wojcikowski. “It incorporates the teachings of the Bible through the idea of family, name, home, service, and Church.”
Cameron said he especially enjoyed taking part in the games, snack time and the Mary’s House activity in which the children acted out Bible stories. Other activities included crafts, Celebration (prayer and song), Hometown Huddle (stories and activities to encourage seeing God in everyday life) and music.
Renee Rosier, a St. Joseph the Worker parishioner and VBS team leader, enrolled three of her children in the summer program this year. When asked why, she replied, “It’s a non-pressured way to learn about Jesus and serving others. When VBS is over, they remember the songs like ‘Stand Strong.’ The messages they learn come through in their everyday life. It’s a beautiful way to see God in action,” she said.
Bella Otero, a fifth grader and an altar server at St. Joseph the Worker, has attended since she was a preschooler. She enjoys making new friends and meeting up with her old ones. “It’s important to come because Jesus sacrificed his life for us,” she added.
Reflecting on her week at VBS, second grader Bella Breckheimer said, “I had a really good time. I came because I wanted to learn about Jesus and to have fun.”
“I like VBS,” remarked third grader Logan Otero. “My mother encourages me to come every year.” He said he especially liked participating in the crafts segment and in the games.
Kelly Hedrick, a parishioner of Immaculate Heart of Mary, sent her two daughters, Hailey and Lexi, to VBS this year, for the second time. “They had a lot of fun last year,” Hedrick said. “We like to be involved with the church. It’s a well-rounded program [VBS] and a good environment. They learned about faith in God and experienced love and fellowship.”
Wojcikowski said this year’s VBS has been successful. “We try to maintain a level of fun,” she said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than the smile of a child. I want to have the kids feel loved and accepted — and to come back.”
Deacon Nick Alvaro serves as youth minister at St. Joseph the Worker Parish. He said that VBS offers an important opportunity for youth to “share the joy of the Gospel at the earliest age possible.”
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Liverpool will also offer VBS this summer: August 3-7, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; the theme will be “Polar Bear Express.” For more information, call Wojcikowski at (315) 451-5070.
For the first time, St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish in Chadwicks will be offering VBS. Supported by the McDevitt Grant for Evangelization for Youth Summer Bible School, it will be held August 3-7 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The theme is “Conquering Challenges with God’s Mighty Power.” The children will learn about God’s power through music and games. The following week, two family events will be held on August 6 and 11. The event on August 11 will feature storyteller Paul Boehlert.
Beth Evans, catechetical leader at the parish, believes that attending the VBS generates “good feelings for the kids about what God can mean in their lives and they will feel a sense of community. They need to know that church is not just a place to go to — it’s a place that families can go to for support and to learn about God and to have fun.”
For more information, call (315) 507-2528.
VBS at Holy Trinity in Fulton has expanded from a partial week to a full week this year. Entitled “Hometown Nazareth, Where Jesus was a Kid,” it will be held August 10 – 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch and snacks will be provided and it is offered to all children from kindergarten through fifth grade in the Fulton community. Admission costs $5. For more information, call Heidi Buda at (315) 598-2118.
The community of Our Lady of Peace and St. Cecilia’s in Syracuse will hold a Vacation Bible School program at Our Lady of Peace’s Nazareth Hall the week of August 10-14 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The theme is “Camp Courage” and is for ages five to 10.
Denise Lucio, faith formation coordinator at Our Lady of Peace/St. Cecilia, said the main purpose for offering the VBS is to keep children involved in their faith. “My main goal is to get them spiritually involved in a fun way, to teach them that God unconditionally loves them, is their best friend and is forever with them,” Lucio said.
Registration must be received no later than August 3. Registration forms are available on olpsyracuse.org and stcecilias.org. Email forms to email@example.com or mail to Denise Lucio, 202 Lakeland Ave., Syracuse, NY 13209. For more information, contact Lucio at (315) 487-4869.
Scroll below to watch video from VBS at St. Joseph’s.