NUMBERS attending the Blaze After School Religious Education Program have swelled and are now full at St Catherine’s Parish, Wishart, and St Agnes’ Parish, Mt Gravatt, for this Brisbane South Deanery initiative.
“The response to the program has been overwhelming as has the outcome after each session,” the program’s deanery co-ordinator Jaye Barros said.
“The children look forward to being able to comfortably express their faith in a safe and casual environment and this shows as they share openly and honestly their faith experiences at school and at home.”
After starting the year with two or three young people in the program, more than 20 children are now involved at St Catherine’s and 18 at St Agnes’.
Blaze is a program specifically written for schoolchildren in Years 3-7 and is a supplement to other programs and activities parishes may be running including children’s liturgy of the Word, the sacramental program and Rite of Christian Initiation of Children. It is suitable for both Catholic and state school children.
The program, which runs classes for 15 students at a time, starts with set opening and closing prayers, reading the upcoming weekend Gospel and discussion about the scriptures, their history, meaning, and relevance to the children.
“There is a definite need for it,” Jaye said.
A Gospel focus activity follows, allowing the children to explore the Gospel through drama, reflection, prayer activities or other hands-on learning experiences.
The Gospel game provides the group to again look at the message of the Gospel in another way through interacting with each other in a team situation.
“We have been able to identify children’s needs for prayer and understanding of their faith as well as being an avenue for parents to ask some faith questions via their children,” Jaye said.
“We have also been able to assist those families who would like their children to receive the sacraments of initiation or to return to Church life themselves.
“One of the most important developments of Blaze has been the children’s willingness to share their faith and prayer experiences with us. This certainly did not happen initially as they are often shy about expressing their faith to others, particularly their peers.
“As time has gone on, an awareness and trust has developed and the children (and leaders) now freely share their thoughts with the group, knowing that those who are gathered are supportive, positive and understanding.”
For more information about Blaze After School Religious Education Program phone the Sunnybank parish office on (07) 3345 3766.
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