Monte Vista's children “track Mary” at VBS

By Peggy Haslar

FrStephen VBSConductor “All Aboard!  The Queen of Heaven Express is about to leave the station!”  conductor Father Stephen Injoalu, called as children at St. Joseph's church in Monte Vista lined up and waited for him to punch their tickets.

It was another successful week of Vacation Bible School for the children of the San Juan Catholic Community.  Father Derrek Scott coordinated the program, leading a team of 19 teens and a few adults in delivering a fun curriculum designed to help children grow closer to Mary and learn to pray the rosary.

“Tracking Mary:  Mysteries & Messages” was held June 26 to July 1.  “Tracking Mary” is the most recent release from Catholic Kidz Camp, a division of growingwiththesaints.com.  Children who attended learned about five Marian apparitions, one each day, as the Queen of Heaven Express “carried” them to places around the globe where Mary has appeared with a special message.  The first stop was France, where they learned about Our Lady of Lourdes.  Next was Portugal to hear about Our Lady of Fatima.  Then the Express took the kids to Mexico where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego. Ireland was next, where they studied Our Lady of Knock, and on the final day the Express arrived in England where Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock. 

The Bible story each day came from the rosary's Joyful Mysteries.  At crafts, everyone made rosaries, grottos and suncatchers to take home. During teaching times, children could be heard praying the rosary together.  And of course, everyone got to have fun chasing and racing during the games.

One of the highlights of each day was the morning opening, featuring teen leaders performing a skit that illustrated what the fruit of the day's Joyful Mystery looks like in real life. They saw humility in a young man who learned that his talents were gifts to be used in service rather than calling attention to himself.  In the skit on poverty, one of the teens decided to give away some of his favorite articles clothing (including a Steph Curry jersey he'd outgrown) to enrich the life of someone less fortunate.   Father Derrek, who taught every day, made a special appearance dressed as Juan Diego on Wednesday, and one of the teen girls, dressed as Our Lady at Fatima, helped children understand Mary's message to the three children at Fatima.  On Friday, everyone sang “Happy Anniversary” to Mary after learning about this year's 100th anniversary of her Fatima appearance.

Elaborate snacks supported each day's theme.  A team led by Dorothy Ackerman produced food that formed beautiful crowns, chaplets and other tributes to Our Lady.  Their efforts added much to the beauty of the week and made snack a highly anticipated time.

“Tracking Mary” included great music, also led by teens.  The theme song, “Tracking Mary All over the World,” reinforced knowledge about the Marian apparitions the children were studying.  Most beautiful of all was hearing the children's voices singing “Salve Regina” with enthusiasm.

The week concluded inside the church where children and teens each received a brown scapular after Father Derrek and Father Stephen had blessed them and prayed FrDerrek JuanDiegoover the group.

There was a little extracurricular drama at “Tracking Mary” as well.  Since the teen boys had taken Father Derrek by surprise on the final day of last year's VBS (dousing him from behind with a cooler of ice water on the field at “Savior Stadium”), this year it was Father Stephen's turn. 

Father Stephen caught on to the plan, however, so he made it a little more challenging for the boys.  The conductor of the Queen of Heaven Express proved to be quite cagey, evading them by disappearing at at various places on the property, even impressing everyone by vaulting the rectory fence!  But his pursuers were relentless and in the end, the boys were victorious. The crew that had worked hard all week on the children's behalf went home full of laughter and pizza.

Vacation Bible School has become a fun tradition in the San Juan Catholic Community, reinforcing the religious education that takes place during the year with a special children's summer event. With Father Derrek's leadership it's also become a special time for teens share their faith with children and for everyone involved to grow in prayer and understanding of the truths of our faith.