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Vacation Bible School – A ‘Radical Ride’

A student at the St. Joseph/Holy Family Parish Vacation Bible School.

Unfortunately, adults aren’t invited to board the flight Radical Ride on the Wings of Prayer. The flight departs from St. Joseph/Holy Family Parish in Jasper, Indiana. Cat.Chat Airlines has arranged the journey for more than 200 pre-school through fifth grade Vacation Bible School students. Teachers and middle school guides will accompany the travelers.

The five-day itinerary for the trip looks exhausting! Six saints and seven destinations in five days!

At each stop, the students will meet a saint, explore a virtue that saint exemplifies, sing lively songs and enjoy arts and crafts – all part of their daily prayer.

Curious about the destination, the saints and the virtues?

Canada and the United States – St. Raphael, responsibility.

Poland – St. Faustina, trust.

France – St. Bernadette, respect.

Italy – St. John Bosco, zeal.

Mexico – St. Juan Diego, humility.

Students at the St. Joseph/Holy Family Parish Vacation Bible School ready to embark on the Radical Ride on the Wings of Prayer.

Indiana – St. Mother Theodore. (Our Saint Mother Theodore wasn’t on the original itinerary; but the organizers of Jasper’s Vacation Bible School knew she had to be on their radar).

OK – so it’s a virtual experience; but how fun it sounds! It sure solves kids asking over and over each day, “what can we do now?” It seems a good alternative to hours of playing video games. Meeting new friends, singing new songs, arts and crafts, prayer make for a full day of lifelong learnings.

No matter how virtual the trip, a five-day journey requires real life experience, dedicated and creative travel agents.

Hats off to Pam Freyberger, the parishes’ Director of Religious Education. Maureen Gutsgell, artist, who designed and constructed the security checkpoint scanner, drew and mounted foam board images of all six saints so the children would recognize them. (Maureen is also a cousin of two Sisters of Providence so has lifelong connections with us). St. Joseph’s parish priest, Father Jerry Pratt, designed and built the Cat.Chat airplane that transported all travelers to their destinations. This wonderful experience for students would not be possible if not for Cat.Chat for kids. This family-owned and operated company creates, designs and provides numerous resources for religious educators to use. Readers can learn more about this company at catchat.ca.

Happy and safe future travels as all of us daily embark on a “Radical Ride on the Wings of Prayer.”

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Avatar MaryBeth Rennels Strassel on July 14, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Sounds wonderful! Creative and instructive and inspirational. Back in the day–about 35 years ago–a friend and I were fanatic Vacation Bible school directors for several years at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan. We used a Catholic curriculum the first year–and it was terrible! Inexperience! VBS had been the domain of Protestant churches. So we switched to a vibrant interdenominational curriculum.

    But it looks as if the Catholics have caught up! VBS is important because at least in our case, the children got more catechetical hours in that week than they did in the year-long program.

    BTW, I understand Sisters of Providence were the first teachers at this Michigan parish back when Mother Theodore thought she might have to leave Indiana because of the difficult bishop in Indiana.

  2. Avatar Denise Wilkinson on July 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Dear Mary Beth, Great to hear from you. The VBS concept was entirely new to me – so I loved writing the article. As for the SPs ministering in Michigan (especially Ypsilanti), here’s what I found out from our Archives department. I am pasting in their reply: Here is what I found: When Mother Theodore realized that St.Mary-of-the-Woods was isolated, proposed to Bishop H. that Sainte Marie (Piquet Family) in Illinois might be a better location, but he had heard that
    the Baltimore Council of 1840 had plans to erect a new episcopal see for Illinois at Chicago so that
    would mean the Piquet colony would be removed from his jurisdiction so that is why he said no to MT.
    We did minister at St. John the Baptist School from 1883-1896.during Mother Euphrasie Hinkle’s time. So what you understand is correct! Love, Sister Denise

  3. Avatar S. Jeanne Hagelskamp on July 18, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Great article, Denise! What a wonderful concept AND what a terrific group of dedicated individuals to make it happen!

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