Interview by Will Shaw, Photos by Fr. Jim Brobst, OMI
The Oblate Parish of St. Ann’s in Waubun, MN, was alive with the sound of children during the second annual Summer Bible Camp held July 11, – 14.
The four days of learning, games, music and prayer for children in K through 6th grades began each evening at 5 PM with supper, followed by the various activities till 8 each night. The program was designed and coordinated by St. Ann’s Director of Religious Education, Janet Lhotka.
According to St. Ann’s Pastor, Fr. John Cox, OMI, “We planned for 40 children, but each day more showed up until we had a total of 52 on the final night.”
The Bible Camp is an ecumenical collaboration between St. Ann’s and three other local churches: Circles of Faith United Church of Christ; Trinity Lutheran Church; and Lake Grove Lutheran Church. The camp is staffed by volunteers from all four churches and children from all four churches are welcome to attend.
Fr. John is particularly pleased with the coming together of the four churches: “It’s very special that it happens as a collaboration which allows us to serve a large number of children, many of which have little else to do in our small, very rural community. The meals also supplement the diets of some children who are nutritionally challenged and depend on the meals they receive during the school year.”
During the regular school year, St. Ann’s supplemental nutrition program goes beyond school lunches, the most needy are further helped by the ”Backpack Nutrition Program.” These children discreetly receive two days of easy-to-fix, nutritional meals in their backpacks to help them get through the weekend. This program is funded with fund-raisers like the Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast and the donations of parishioners.
Also during the school year, the children of the Oblate Parishes of St. Ann’s and Most Holy Redeemer, plus the missions of St. Theodore, St. Benedict, St Francis Cabrini and St. Anne’s attend the Tekakwitha Center Religious Education program which offers two weekly religious education sessions for students K through 5 and 6 through high school. Last years’ weekly attendance was 115 students, equal to one-quarter of the town’s population of 400.
These Oblate Parishes and missions are served by Fr. Cox, Fr. Joseph Hitpas, OMI. They are soon to be joined by Fr. Dan Nassaney, OMI
The collaboration among the churches also continues throughout the year: the four come together to sponsor an annual Dinner for Seniors, a Church Unity Octave Service in January and a Baccalaureate Service where they all come together in the Spring.