Vacation Bible school provides summer fun and learning for area youth

by Shannon Grooms

posted on August 8, 2012

Two weeks in July saw many vacation Bible schools being held at the churches on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Our Lady of Sorrows in the community of Kyle held a vacation Bible school (VBS) July 13 to 17, with the theme: “Fly High, Everything Is Possible with God.” John XXIII Catholic Community from Albuquerque, New Mexico came with nine high school students and five chaperones to assist the high school and middle school students from Our Lady of Sorrows with this year’s festivities. The VBS drew, on average, 60 Kyle children daily.

Each day included a theme-centered song and dance led by Jennifer Janis of Our Lady of Sorrows and several teens from John XXIII. According to Gayla Loafer, parish coordinator of Our Lady of Sorrows, “We were very fortunate to have the creative leadership of Bonnie Standing Soldier to help with crafts that also bolstered the theme each day. Students from John XXIII with help of Our Lady of Sorrows teens led the popular Chadder’s Theater, and another group led Bible skits and study.”

She continued, “We are so grateful for the creative talents of Ruby Clifford who, with a group of her own teenage grandkids, transformed our hall into a “sky-high” gathering space for learning daily that we can trust God in all things.” Gayla added that the team was fortified each day by a snack provided by veteran mother-daughter team of Laura and Alisha Ferguson, and assisted by April Adams and Jessica Puckett.

Even in some of the hottest days of summer, the children and teens who led the VBS were able to joyfully give thanks to God. In short, Our Lady of Sorrows parish is very grateful to both the group from John XXIII parish and its own local helpers who provided the energy and talent to make the VBS a success.

St. Agnes in the town of Manderson held its VBS in the Tekakwitha Hall from July 10 to 12. This summer they tried a new approach, incorporating sports into the traditional biblical activities. According to parish coordinator Joyce Tibbitts, “This year we invited our sister parish from Naperville, IL, a suburb of Chicago. They came out in December for our parish bazaar, and they thought it was an excellent idea to join us for our VBS this summer.”

Tibbitts went on to add, “We did a lot of religious activities, as we have in years past, but this is the first time we incorporated sports. Our sister parish did a lot of pre-planning to get this organized. They collected sports equipment from their parishioners, and they came with a lot of stuff for the kids to enjoy. Each child got something sports orientated on the last day. Everything worked out wonderful, and, hopefully, this will become a tradition! We started out slowly with attendance and worked our way up to a good group from the Manderson area. The children are already looking forward to it for next year!”

Sacred Heart Church in Pine Ridge held its Disciple Days from July 10 to 13. This year’s theme was “God Calls Us by Name.” Some of the activities included a hike behind Red Cloud Indian School (to a local landmark called the “Three Warriors” and the cave), tee-shirt making, a treasure hunt to find some famous disciples, and a quiet prayer in a tipi.

On Thursday, participants took a special look at how God calls us to be disciples and how as disciples we can serve. The children were divided into groups in which they served by picking up trash, cleaning, stocking the food pantry, and other such activities. On Friday, the participants went on a field trip to the town swimming pool in Rushville, NE.

Charles McGaa and Sr. Barb Bogenschutz led the Disciple Days with help from many behind-the scenes-volunteers including Wanda Standing Bear, Sheila Murdock, Kelly LaFramboise, Halona and Charlee Brewer, and Woniya Janis. Thanks to all!

If you are interested in learning more about any of the Catholic churches on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, please contact Fr. Peter Klink at 605-867-5491 ext 627.