By KATIE BUCKIS, Special to the Bulletin | Published June 27, 2014
COLLEGE PARK—About 400 children from all over the Archdiocese of Atlanta took part in the “Adore!” track at the Eucharistic Congress. While their parents were enjoying the rest of the congress, the children were able to take part in activities similar to Vacation Bible School.
“St. Paul” took the children, ages 5 to 11, with their “passports” on his missionary journeys through Damascus, Antioch, Corinth and Rome with entertaining skits put on by volunteers. They learned from St. Paul what it means to be a disciple of Jesus through the skits, different crafts, and music.
The kids made fish stencils, disciple bookmarks, and “Jesus is King” crowns. One boy, Mark, said, “We did activities and learned about disciples.”
Throughout the day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the kids got to sing and dance to songs with cantors from St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs, singing songs that they already knew and learning some new ones, too. One of the singers, Marisa Valecruz, said, “The kids are super enthusiastic. It was cool to see how even at a young age, they want to get involved.”
Almost 100 volunteers helped make the track a success. They came from parishes all over the archdiocese to work with the children and make sure they got just as much out of the congress, and its theme of being a disciple of Jesus, as their parents did.
Volunteer Yuvet Nguyen said, “My favorite part of working with the kids is seeing them get excited about the church, Jesus, and the Gospel. They already know so much; it’s amazing!”
“My favorite part of working with the kids is their unconditional love for Jesus,” said Mark Halaszynski, a volunteer from St. Brigid Church, Johns Creek.
The children were visited by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who brought in the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament. He led a time of adoration for 15 minutes with the children and taught them about reverence. Both of Atlanta’s auxiliary bishops also visited the children’s track.
“It was cool when Bishop (David) Talley talked to us. He was really nice,” said one girl, Caroline.
Bishop Luis Zarama talked to the children in different languages. Lunch was also provided.
At the end of the day, when parents came to pick up their children, they received a “Flat St. Paul.” Similar to a “Flat Stanley,” a learning program where children send a figure named Stanley to different places and track his journeys, the kids can color and cut out a paper St. Paul and take pictures of him in different places to spread the news of St. Paul’s mission. The St. Paul figure was designed by Joseph Hamilton and Jan Walker from St. Mark Church, Clarkesville. It was a hit with the kids and parents and a great way to end the “Adore!” track.
Katie Buckis is a rising senior at Marist School, Atlanta, and Marist intern at The Georgia Bulletin.