By Deacon Sal Lema
Beautiful Sun City, Arizona, known for its senior population of energetic individuals over 55 who spend their days, golfing, swimming, hiking, pool playing, church going, and the variety of board games and get-togethers, is also home to a church whose boundaries extend farther than the Sun City limits, as parishioners come with their children and grandchildren of all ages. You see, children are also members of St. Elizabeth Seton. From Baptism to weddings, they are the group that brings life and joy to this vibrant parish. So, when parishioner Brenda Heras-Ballesteros brought the idea of a Vacation Bible School (VBS) to Deacon Jeff Arner, director of Formation, the idea was met with an immediate yes! Brenda, who is a First Communion & Confirmation teacher and also teaches sacrament classes, says, she “was inspired by the Holy Spirit to help our kids.” Brenda wanted the VBS to be a success, so she called every family who had children in our parish and introduced them to what the VBS had to offer their children. She also contacted neighboring churches and schools. “I called deacon Jeff so many times, that he increased his prayers asking God to be with me,” said Ballesteros. “I loved being a part of this giving gift to our kids,” she said.
The five-evening school ran from Monday, July 19thto Friday, July 23rd from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Thirty-one students attended. The theme of this first VBS was; My Summer in the Holy Land. But before it could start, a lot had to happen to prepare for the five days to come.
Prior to the start, adult and youth volunteers assembled each week for four sessions to select and prepare for the four areas of responsibility; Bible Response, Creative Response, Active Response, and Drama Response. There were also guides, for the groups as they journeyed to each room along with many youth helpers that developed the drama plays for each day’s bible theme, and others to assist the VBS students with their variety of needs.
Both volunteers and students would receive tee shirts at the start of the school. These shirts were furnished through the kindness and generosity of the St. Elizabeth Seton Knights of Columbus. Other donations from parishioners covered the supplies, food, props, and a token of completion to the students on the last day.
When all was prepared, the doors were opened at 5:00pm and the fun began. Liturgy and Music director Steve Raml opened and closed each day with songs, while Fr. Kilian, Deacons Jeff and Sal fit in where needed.
The explorers stayed within their groups moving from station to station to experience four, twenty-minute sessions and a break where snacks were provided that matched the theme of the day. A pizza party was held on Friday, and hula hoops were given out as the VBS drew to a close.
Sounds great doesn’t? Well, don’t just take my word for it! You can’t see the happy faces or witness the children singing without experiencing their joy. The video below will show just that and more! Plans are underway for the second annual VBS at St. Elizabeth Seton to be held in the summer of 2022.