SUMMERVILLE—Prayer, fasting and giving are a regular part of Lent. But after a faith formation program at St. John the Beloved Church, children added learning to that list.
Sister Maryjane Golden, a Sister of St. Mary of Namur, is director of religious education at the Summerville parish. She led a program for children, including Summerville Catholic School students, in grades K-4 through five to teach them what Lent means. The students visited five stations, each with a different lesson taught by a parent volunteer.
“The idea is to learn what can be done during Lent in a more experimental, hands-on way,” Sister Maryjane said.
The children received a bag that they filled with items from each station. At one, they colored baskets covered in hearts. The baskets were used to carry handmade crosses inscribed with prayers.
“We want them to look pretty so we can put the crosses in them,” said Olivia Ketchel, a second-grader. “The crosses are so we can learn things.”
At the next station, the students discussed love and were given a prayer box. The teacher told them that each time they opened the box to say a prayer, it was like opening their heart to Jesus. One group said they can show love by helping other people, being a friend and being nice.
The children’s favorite station was one where they discussed prayer and the symbolism of pretzels, while eating them, of course. Members of the fourth-grade class said the snack reminded them of praying because the pretzel arms are crossed.
At another stop, the children listened to a story about being selfless and giving everything to Jesus. The students said when people give everything they have to Jesus it makes Him happier than when they only give Jesus their extra stuff.
At the last station, the students made boxes for Haiti and were told they could put pennies inside, or their allowance, or other special items.
Several young children, ages 5 and 6, said it would be easy to save money and they couldn’t wait to put pennies inside the box.
Another topic of conversation centered on why the Bible is important. Students had many answers, starting with “because Jesus is in it.” They also said the stories are special, all of our prayers are in the Bible, and it tells about miracles.
The overall theme of the class was summed up by a third-grader, who said, “Lent’s important because it is about God and Jesus.”