Taking Care of the “Lambs”
In the Official LOGO for the Synod on Synodality 2021-2023, what caught my attention was the representation of varied people ”walking together” towards the future, referred to as the Third Millennium. In the forefront are the children. It reminds me of another image, of Jesus in the Scriptures (John 21: 15), tenderly conversing with Peter, the “Rock” on whom he will build his church. “Feed my lambs” he said. Before leaving his earthly ministry, Jesus showed great concern for his “lambs and sheep”. Interestingly, he mentioned first the lambs before repeating the word “sheep” twice.
In “journeying together as Church,” we are often concerned for the adults, the elderly, the sick, those who have gone astray, the marginalized, the youth, those who do not know yet God or the Church etc. Rightly so. But how about “the children?” Jesus said, “Let them come to me. Do not hinder them, for theirs is the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:14). Ministry for Children has always been a great challenge. Many say, “But I have no charisma for it.” “Children are difficult to handle!”
In John de Britto Center, we have two groups that “take care of the lambs” - the Angels Group and the English Sunday School Group. By the grace of God, we have a group of dedicated volunteer catechists and a very dynamic and collaborative parents’ group. The latter have been “walking together” for the past 4 years, developing a growing bond among themselves, thanks to their indefatigable leader. The children are happy, having developed friendships among themselves. Surprisingly, they look forward to going to church on Sundays!
Summer Camp for Children
For almost 3 years now, the children have been restricted to on-line classes and limited face-to-face encounters. Easter Sunday was the first time they had a program and party in open space. It turned out to be so much fun not only for them but for the parents and volunteer catechists as well, which led to the idea of organizing a Children’ Camp for the first time. (Please see the poster on page 5). The objectives are: a. to give opportunity for children, families, volunteers, etc. to have fun together and experience the joy of being one big church community this summer b. to introduce one of the characteristics of Ignatian spirituality, “To find God in all things!” as taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola, our Patron Saint c. to integrate what the children have learned the whole year round in their catechism classes d. to attract/invite other children to enroll in the English Sunday School this coming September.
English Sunday School
Aware of the unstoppable growth and development of the children who started catechism classes four years ago (many have already received the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation), this September we are opening three levels of classes – Beginners (6-9 years old), Intermediate (10-12) and Teens (13-15). (Please see poster also on Page 5). The classes are open to children of other language groups, too. To cater to their needs, there is a special class for those who are not fluent in either English or Japanese. For teens, who already tend to “disappear” on Sundays because of growing interests outside the church or because they still feel awkward joining the Youth Ministry (SIIYM), we have begun classes for the formation of a new set of Altar Servers, Readers and Lectors for the Family Mass held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month.
Change of Wind
End of July, we found ourselves in the so-called “Seventh Wave”. Corona infections continue to surge, prompting our Pastor to write a letter to “his flock.” (see page 3). Already at the height of preparations for the Summer Camp, we had to discern whether to push thru with the activity or not. Conclusion – we will postpone it indefinitely until better times. THIS TOO IS “TO TAKE CARE OF THE LAMBS!”
Sr. Flor M. Florece, FI