The sounds of a few dozen girls praying together in Church had been missing for the past few months at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula.
The Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara (SSVM), women religious who serve at the Parish, were determined to change that by organizing two religion-based programs for children, one for girls the week of June 29-July 3, 2020, and the boys from July 6-July 10, 2020.
Sister Gema Ruiz, SSVM, said, “We are excited to see our children praying and playing together. These programs allow them to experience a week of joy and friendship in this time of hardship.”
The summer programs were for children from kindergarten through fifth grade and usually has more than 150 children. Therefore, the usual raucous crowds were a bit toned down this year with limits on the number of participants to about 60 each. This did nothing to change the purpose of the summer programs, bringing young boys and girls in a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
This was accomplished through the daily participation in celebration of the Mass, prayer time, religion and Bible classes, games, arts and crafts with some fun mixed in to help burn off the pent-up energy of the young ones.
Safety protocols were followed by children and volunteers alike. There was lots of hand washing and wearing of masks was required at Mass, or at indoor activities in the Parish Hall or classrooms. Masks were only put to the side while eating or when outdoor games took place to avoid heat-related illnesses.
Assisted by men and women who are discerning life as religious with the order each day began early and lasted through the afternoon. There was even a field trip one morning to the Heartland Event Center.
The programs served the added benefit of bringing something normal back into their lives, being together with friends for a few hours.
When asked how his week had gone, one second grade boy jumped high off the ground stretching out his arms legs and exclaimed, “Great!”