Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 31, 2002
Young Disciples follow the path
Caring parish creates an original faith program for the younger set
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
A parish often hosts a youth group. But not a children's group.
Enter the parents from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. These concerned mothers and fathers think it's important such a program be offered to the Grade 1 to 6 set.
They searched high and low. They even exhausted what was available on the Internet.
But, "We were unable to find a program that taught the faith in a fun (and) interactive way," said Sharon Wanke, one of the organizers.
So they decided to write and develop their own program. Their original program began in March 2000 and has grown until this year, 37 children attend the program.
Called Young Disciples, the program covers 75 topics during a three-year cycle.
Topics are adapted from the Bible, feast days and celebrations of the Catholic Church. The lives of the saints are frequently highlighted and celebrated.
The group meets in the parish basement from 6:30-8 p.m. every Wednesday from September to April.
The group prays together at the beginning of each meeting before dividing into their age groups. A short lesson is taught by volunteer parents and includes a variety of activities such as crafts, drama, videos and music.
They invite occasional guest speakers and once a year a priest talks about his vocation.
One of the year's highlights is the annual All Saints Day party, where children dress up like their favourite saints and make presentations.
Children are encouraged to develop a closer relationship with Jesus and a fuller understanding of the teachings of the Church.
"We want the children to really learn the faith while having a lot of fun. We want to encourage friendships within this faith environment," Wanke said.
Their hope is that such friendships will support the children as they enter into the various youth events offered by the archdiocese.
"Often teenagers do not want to go to these events because they do not know anyone. We hope this (program) will help to alleviate that problem."
Monica Friesen is one of the volunteer mothers, who run the program.
"What keeps us going is we feel that the (children) need to be more involved. For example, understanding a little bit more about the Mass and being able to participate more.
"We hope that down the road when they have a better understanding they'll keep on wanting to grow in their faith and pursue the knowledge of their faith.
"We're really pleased we have this program now," Friesen told the WCR.
"We all participate in preparing lessons."
Wanke said, "The adults involved in the program feel very enriched by the time (they) spend with the children.
"We all have learned so much and our love for Jesus and the Church has grown."
The program is not exclusive for parishioners of OLPH. Interested children and parents are welcome to participate.
For more information call the parish office (780) 467-5470, Marnie Jamieson (780) 464-3770 or Sharon Wanke (780) 922-3012.