August 1, 2014

All Saints Parish uses special vacation Bible school program

Youth participants and adult leaders of the vacation Bible School program “Walking in the Light of Christ” pose on June 29 at St. Paul School in New Alsace. Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn, which includes St. Paul School, helped develop the vacation Bible school program with the assistance of a team of youth ministers, teachers and other adult volunteers. (Submitted photo)

Youth participants and adult leaders of the vacation Bible School program “Walking in the Light of Christ” pose on June 29 at St. Paul School in New Alsace. Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn, which includes St. Paul School, helped develop the vacation Bible school program with the assistance of a team of youth ministers, teachers and other adult volunteers. (Submitted photo)

Special to The Criterion

Hot summer days are often opportunities for the Church to form young disciples of Christ through vacation Bible schools (VBS).

The newly formed All Saints Parish in Dearborn County took hold of this opportunity in a unique way earlier this summer.

“Walking in the Light of Christ,” was the title of their unique vacation Bible school program, a dream that became a reality for Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish.

The VBS program was based on the five Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. Each evening of the five-night program, the young participants learned about one of the five Luminous Mysteries—the baptism of Jesus, the wedding at Cana, the proclamation of the kingdom of God, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist.

St. John Paul II gave the Church the Luminous Mysteries in 2003. So it only seemed fitting to Father Meyer to celebrate this gift of the rosary during the year in which the late pontiff was declared a saint.

The program was dynamic and fun for the participants. The youths were engaged with music, games, Scripture, skits, crafts, snack time and, most importantly, prayer.

According to Father Meyer, everything in the program pointed back to the scriptural mystery that was being focused on each night.

Original Luminous Mystery vacation Bible school songs were written by Matthew Keck. They emphasized the Scripture passage of the night. The games were tailored each night to remind the children of the message of salvation that was being put forward.

Even the snacks emphasized the theme. The baptism of Jesus featured blue Jello with gummy fish snacks for the Jordan River, and whipped cream for the cloud out of which God the Father spoke and identified Jesus as his Son.

Father Meyer collaborated with a team of youth ministers in 2008 to developed the idea for this VBS program. It was originally used during a eucharistic retreat for teenagers.

In 2010, Father Meyer applied the idea for the first time to a vacation Bible school for children at St. Mary Parish in North Vernon, where he was serving as pastor. Father Meyer worked on this project with Rebecca Stone, now a teacher at SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi School in Greenwood.

With the help of Patsy Oehlem, and Don and Michelle Paquette, the effort has blossomed into an amazing program for youths and their parents.

“When I was a seminarian and helped with VBS and even in my early years of priesthood, I realized that VBS programs were great to bring youths together and inspire them,” Father Meyer said. “However, the gimmick that the youth often left with was not authentically Catholic. This program that we designed is authentically Catholic. And what is better than the rosary and John Paul II?” †

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