Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Thomas Spink
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory talks to the children about being friends with Jesus in the children’s track at the 2017 Eucharistic Congress June 17. Some 300 participants, ages 5 to 10, took part in a day that included adoration, songs and crafts. The track was run by Dominican sisters.

College Park

God, friendship highlighted at the children’s track

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published June 23, 2017

COLLEGE PARK—The Dominican sisters and musician Sarah Kroger led more than 300 youngsters in prayer and praise during the children’s track of the 2017 Eucharistic Congress June 17.

Moved to the Marriott Gateway Hotel adjacent to the Georgia International Convention Center this year, the track served children ages 5 to 10 who were pre-registered for the program.

The track theme was “United in Love: We Serve the Lord by Being God’s Friend to Others.”

Children danced to song selections, trying out their best do-si-do moves with the Dominican sisters. They decorated the walls with artwork, played with foam pool noodles and enjoyed bagged lunches.

The students, rising kindergarten to fifth-graders, rose from crouching positions as Kroger sang, “Spring Up, O Well.”

The energy level quieted as word came that Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory would visit for Eucharistic adoration.

The children cleared the center aisle and looked toward the door in anticipation of the Eucharistic procession. They knelt with hands clasped and sang, “O’ Come Let Us Adore Him.”

Archbishop Gregory spoke to the children about the disciples and how Jesus did not want to call them servants, but friends instead.

Jesus shared with the disciples everything he had learned from God, emphasized the archbishop.

“I have told you everything my father has told me. We’re going to be friends because I’m not going to have any secrets from you,” he explained about Jesus.

Some of the things you tell friends are funny, some are surprising and other things are about your life at home, he said.
“Friends share their secrets, their dreams, their fears. That’s how Jesus began to establish his friendship with the disciples,” he said. “In turn, we can tell Jesus any of the secrets in our hearts.”

Archbishop Gregory encouraged the children to talk to Jesus, especially during adoration.

“Jesus has great ears; he does,” said the archbishop.

He said that Jesus wants us to treat one another and the poor as friends. The archbishop reminded the young people that whatever we do to the less fortunate, we do to Jesus.

Archbishop Gregory asked if anyone ever had a friend or buddy move far away. Several of the children and the volunteers raised their hands.

“Fortunately, for us Jesus never moves. He is always with us, most especially in the Blessed Sacrament,” he said.

Jesus is “anchored” to us in our homes and families, the archbishop said.

Before departing, the archbishop led the children in the Angel Prayer.

Cousins Yeshua Sanchez and Valerie Canters attended the children’s track with other family members.

Valerie, a parishioner at St. Matthew Church in Tyrone, enjoyed arts and crafts and watching a Veggie Tales video.

“It was good. We talked about how to be a good friend,” said Valerie.

Yeshua, age 7, enjoyed spending time with the nuns, telling his mother Julieta, “Mommy, I saw this sister and she was always smiling at me.”