NEW HAVEN – Summer was in full swing at St. Aedan/St. Brendan Parish, where 33 children from kindergarten through eighth grade attended Vacation Bible Camp June 30 to July 3 and helped celebrate the camp’s 30th anniversary.
This year’s theme was Soul Train. Onlookers found it hard to decide who was having more fun, the campers or program director Deacon Joseph Ryzewski.
“I love trains,” said Deacon Ryzewski, wearing a train conductor’s hat, as he toured the renamed rooms in the St. Aedan Parish’s former convent – Hobo Junction, Round House, Way Station, Rail Yard and Salvation Junction. Plenty of activities also took place outside.
“We show how all roads lead to Jesus,” said Deacon Ryzewski. “[Through] stories from the Old and New Testaments, they learn how God has a plan for us, and Jesus ties it all together. God is our engine who helps to keep us on track, even as we go through the peaks and valleys of life.”
It was his wife Kathy who started the camp three decades ago with a group of St. Aedan’s parents. Since then, the Bible camp has drawn 2,400 children from the parish and neighborhood, who come to discover the treasures of the Bible through study, music, crafts, science, drama and other activities, even a sack race.
“I think it’s fun because that’s how I learn about religion and the stories in the Bible,” said Laura Nowalk, age 9, who travels from Virginia every year to stay with her grandmother and attend camp. “And I get to sing songs.”
The program is open to children of all faith traditions and is free of charge. Teen and adult leaders, teachers and aides volunteer their time for the week. Among them is Sister Jeanne Marie Vonder Haar, a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pastoral associate, who serves the inner-city parish with its pastor, Father Thomas Shepard.
“I think it’s been a blessing,” said Deacon Ryzewski on the success of the camp. “This is what we’re called to do as Christians, to spread the Good News.”
The parish had a celebration after a Mass on June 29 to recognize the camp’s benefactors, teachers and alumni and to kick off the weeklong program.