Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic

Vacation Bible school turned into a true tropical adventure for a group of missionaries from the Diocese of Orlando. More than 20 youth and parents from Ascension Parish in Melbourne, Our Saviour Parish in Cocoa Beach, Blessed Trinity Parish in Orlando and St. Peter’s Parish in Deland recently journeyed with Father Fred Ruse to the Dominican Republic.

They eventually landed in Los Frios, a community smack in the middle of the Caribbean nation and the perfect place to take in the wonder of God’s creation. That was the theme of this year’s Campo de Fe or Faith Camp. Dozens of young children from nearby villages travelled to St. Maximillian Kolbe Middle School for the special, week-long experience. Many of them walked great distances for the opportunity.

“Each day was choreographed according to a series of planned dynamics focused on the faith,” explained Father Ruse. “There were many hands-on activities, singing, scripture stories, recreation, breakfast and lunch. It was four days of intense catechetical activity, age-appropriate. At the same time, a good amount of English was inserted in support of developing language learning skills.”

Instant connections were made, friends became family. “Our youth from Florida loved the children as if they were their sisters and brothers; maybe even more, that is, as if they were their own children,” said Father Ruse, pastor in the region for 10 years and recently retired from Our Saviour Parish. As they reflected on each day’s activities, the missionaries expressed how moved they were that the children did not treat them like strangers.

Focusing on God’s creation seemed especially fitting this year on the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life). “The children learned about how many breaths the lungs take each day, how many bones are in the body, how many times the heart beats every minute… all in terms of being in awe of how God has created us.” And all chimed in with the week’s motto: “Wow God! Wow Dios!”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – July 10, 2018