Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 9, 2004
Children's hearts open to faith
Oblate unfolds Biblical teachings to rapt students
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Smiling angels, complete with halos, and donkeys standing in vigilant presence at Jesus birth are penciled into the Grade 2 school journals of Elora Roth, Victoria Moline and Victoria Currah. Their drawings came in response to an Oblate's teachings.
"Children in Grade 2 are just learning about first Communion and first Eucharist," said Oblate Youth Ministries member Father Mark Blom. "I use several icons, including a painting of the three angels (The Holy Trinity) who visited Abraham and Sarah. At the centre is bread. The kids really like it because in a certain way, the outline of the bodies of the angels makes the outline of a cup, or chalice," he said.
"I want to bring into the minds of the little ones that Communion is in that piece of bread and it is in our relationship with each other - and with God."
Faith development day
Blom was one of nine presenters taking part in the day-long event entitled We are Christ for One Another at St. Mary Elementary School's first faith development day Jan. 28.
Blom asked the children to reflect on the presentation and the youngsters happily responded.
"I learned that when Jesus holds two fingers, it means Jesus was a real person and Jesus is a spirit," Elora said. "But my favourite part today was making the loaves of bread."
"Mine too," exclaimed Victoria M. "And I especially like the angels. I liked the pictures Father Mark drew. They were cool. And I learned if you plant one seed, you can get 100 more pieces of wheat."
"I learned," said Victoria C., "that the bread is Jesus' body and the wine is his blood. I learned the light of God is in my heart."
The school's 450 students were divided into groups of about 50 and exposed to three presentations with different themes including bread, candles and a tree of life.
The event was spearheaded by retiring educator Marianne Brisebois. As the school's religious liaison, Brisebois attended a faith development day last year and was impressed with Blom and his ministry.
"The presentations are to develop Christ in us and to see Christ in other people," Brisebois said. "The more we live with the light of Christ, the more people will see Christ in us."
"This is my last year of teaching in a school and it's been my life-long dream to have this for the children. I'm finally pulling it off," she said.
Once the 20-minute presentations were made, the children were given about 10 minutes to reflect and write their thoughts into their journals.
"I had heard the Oblate team speak last year and I came back and thought we can do this," Brisebois said. "I'd already spoken to Father Mark at a faith development day last year. I told him I want to do this, but how? So last October I began making calls and it came together in such a short time," she said.
Twenty-nine junior high students from St. Clement and H.E. Beriault volunteered to assist the presenters and the staff in making the inaugural celebration run effectively.
"All the presenters are all phenomenally gifted. They are doing this to promote Christ among us and I think that's how Church is changing. The face of the Church is becoming real people in our everyday lives."
The validity for the children, Blom says, is that they see they have something real - their power and their potential - to actively contribute to the whole community.
"At this age, if a presentation is vivid and fun, children think it was relevant," he said. "So I use as much art to accompany these big ideas - Communion, one God and three persons. They're abstract ideas so I use as much art as I can to make relevant the message.
"I ask them how they are going to make their Communion - their friendship with God - stronger. I also ask them to try and express how they are going to make their relationships in the community stronger," he said.