“Jesus is knocking, knocking, knocking at my door,” sang 50 children as they joined in song, dance, crafts, sports, lunchtime and more!
The children of farmworker families living at San Jose Mission gathered from July 12 to July 15, 2022 for this year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) hosted by St. Stephen Catholic Church. Fifty teens from St. Stephen Catholic Church, Newsome High School, Jesuit High School and other supporters put their faith in action as they presented a very special week! According to Rosie Bridges, Director of Faith Formation at St. Stephen Catholic Church, “We’re here to serve. People need to see this place, see the faces and see the need.”
Vacation Bible School is about fun, sharing, creating, playing and most importantly, God! During the week, the curriculum is centered around Christian morals, teachings and activities. From playing sports, coloring St. Michael the Archangel, to singing “Jesus is Knocking at my Door,” the children are filled with the Holy Spirit! Socorro Prisco, Housing Manager at San Jose Mission, said, “It is wonderful to see the children so loved and so happy.”
Faith and games are not the only things that the children look forward to every year. The children wait in anticipation to pair-up with their volunteer buddy! Special relationships form between children and volunteers as they come back year after year. Volunteer Austin hugged ten-year-old Jose after being gifted a crafted bear sculpture. “This is going on my nightstand. I’ve been doing this for two years, and Jose has been my buddy each year,” said Austin.
This year, the volunteers went above and beyond, not only hosting a wonderful VBS but also volunteering in the afternoons at the food pantry. According to Gracielle Dinglasan, Assistant Coordinator of Faith Formation at St. Stephen Catholic Church, “The teens cleaned out their closets for things to donate before coming.” The teens folded clothes, cleaned, stocked food and more! Kim Davis, Coordinator of K-8 at St. Stephen Catholic Church, said, “Two of my kids cried. They couldn’t believe this is how some people have to shop. While they worked, they said, ‘The families need to feel like they are at Publix.’”
To conclude VBS, the children and volunteers, joined in one last song and awards to commemorate the unforgettable week. Eddie Gemma, Coordinator of Youth & Young Adult Ministry at St. Stephen Catholic Church, addressed the group, “At the beginning of the week I told you God called you here for a reason, I hope now that you know the reason.” Tears and gifts were exchanged with the final goodbyes, along with Paper Plate Awards: “Look at my shoes, they light up! I won best Shoes Award!” said eight-year-old Christopher!
See you next year! In the meantime, do not forget to open the door, someone is knocking!
San Jose Mission is one of Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg’s affordable housing program that also assists farm worker families with food, clothing, free medical visits and more. To learn more, click here! To donate, click here!