A week ago my seventeen year old daughter, Emily, and I arrived at La Guardia Airport, on a rainy afternoon, to attend the New York Catechists Forum. Friends work for an airline and we purchased buddy passes from them. So, before we flew, we had already spent seven hours in our Minneapolis airport waiting to get on standby and when they called our names we felt as if we had won the lottery.
Parts of the hurricane that later pummeled the Carolinas were paying a short, less severe, visit to New York as we ventured into Manhattan. Our luggage felt as if it was filled with bricks as two suitcases carried our vacation bible school curricula, the booth decor and several iPads for displaying Keynotes and our website,www.Godisgoodvbs.com. A third suitcase held our clothing and seventeen year olds don’t travel lightly.
We purchased tickets for the bus that would take us to Harlem . . . where we planned to ride a train to Yonkers . . . and hoped to safely walk a half a mile in the dark to find our hotel. These challenging steps were not wise for two women, with heavy luggage, in the rain, but we began the plan anyway.
An hour later, my daughter and I were alone on the streets of Harlem, in the chilly, pouring rain, clueless to the location of the train station. Of course, this isolation followed a tricky climb up and down bus steps with three heavy suitcases and countless snickers from bus riders who knew we weren’t locals.
I parked my daughter in a clothing store and, for the first time, attempted hailing a cab. Waving both hands frantically, I juggled an umbrella that popped backwards in the wind. Full cabs drove by me for a good twenty minutes and I questioned why people didn’t share taxis or if I was hailing the cabs incorrectly. Finally, an Uber driver stopped. I threw my wet umbrella and drenched suitcase on his leather backseat as I ordered him to “wait right there while I retrieved my poor daughter and the remainder of our luggage.” He must have been picturing a cold, scared toddler being watched by security. In reality, my teenager and the store guard were safe and laughing as they watched my foolish cab hailing antics.
The warm, dry car was heavenly and our Yonkers hotel, that we finally arrived at, was lovely. Emily and I headed to the Bronx’s Cardinal Spellman High School the next morning, bright and early, after a well deserved, sound sleep. We were greeted by a regional director’s assistant, a nun, who was one of the sweetest people we had ever met. I have never met a Sister I didn’t respect instantly, and she was another woman of Christ I knew I’d love. Her sister, who is also “married to Jesus and His Church,” was the regional director of Catechesis for one of the neighborhoods in New York and she was the leader who invited us to attend. She too is a lovely, strong, kind woman. I’d like to be like just like these women “when I grow up.”
Once our booth was set up we attended Mass with one thousand New York Catechists. Our Minnesota population is not blessed with many Spanish speaking Catechists as we are mostly Norwegian and Irish, and it struck my daughter and me how passionate these men and women were during Mass. The music made the Mass more charismatic than we are used to in our stoic midwest, and although the congregation was enthusiastic they also remained quite reverent and respectful. Their deep love for Christ and the Mass moved us.
Mass reflects why teachers, children and all Catholics rely on the beauties and Divine inspirations of our faith and do not depend upon trends or novelties. Children’s Catholic curricula, too, does not need to be filled strange themes that have nothing to do with our Catholic Church. Emily and I were reminded of this during the Mass that Emily and I spent with New York Catechists.
After Mass we met many Catechists, Directors of Religious Education, priests, sisters and regional directors at our God is Good VBS booth. Many leaders, surprisingly, in this area of the United States, had never tried vacation bible school! We explained that solid, Catholic VBS programs like ours are unique methods of Catechesis that allow children to rotate to learning stations to play games, create art, pray, sing and dance! The teachers and directors expressed tremendous interest and we hope that we will meet many of them as customers.
A particular program many Catechists expressed interest in was our Day VBS program. Catechists prepare a day of learning, singing, dancing, and rotating to faith formation stations to learn about the Jesse Tree – Jesus’ family tree. This is an ideal program, to lead children to Christmas, for a Saturday during Advent or faith formation evening. Several teachers purchased this Jesse Tree Journey Day VBS!
We hope that many leaders throughout the nation will teach children about Advent using this Jesse Tree Journey Day VBS program, which is placed on a flash drive, so that children can come to know about Jesus’ birthday. Getting up from desks and creating Joseph coats, slinging “stones” to remember David, praying parts of the Rosary as they remember the Virgin Mary, dancing, and singing is a unique way to celebrate the days leading up to Christmas.
Finally, we introduced our Director’s Kits that contained five days of curricula, decorations, music and more. We showed leaders Amazing Apostles’ Creed (a program that teaches children what we believe as Catholics in an energetic manner), Jesse Tree Journey (the week-long version of the Day VBS) and Our Magnificent Four: St. Luke the Evangelist (a special exploration of St. Luke’s beautiful Gospel).
The description of this special day read, “Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, Parish Catechists and all people interested in Church teachings are invited to this year’s premier event for personal and professional development and enrichment.” We hope that teachers were enriched by the workshops they attended and learned about our new methods of Catechizing! It will be a delight to know these passionate people as customers before Advent!
By the way, Emily and I visited the gorgeous St. Patrick’s Cathedral and attended a whimsical musical, on Sunday, after the Cateehetical Forum, and we even learned to ride the buses and trains without drama.
For more information about our company, God is Good VBS call us at 952-290-0483 or visit www.Godisgoodvbs.com. New York City and the Sisters and catechists who welcomed us, we thank you.