Grodno: 290 children took part in Holidays with God


On 21-25 August 2023, the Redemptorist parish of the Most Holy Redeemer in Grodno, Belarus, held the next edition of “Holidays with God”. It has already become a good tradition that many children and young people gather at our parish Church for holiday semi-colonies in the last week of August. This year, around 290 children from grades 1-7 and about 30 animators participated.

St John Paul II was chosen as the spiritual guide, and the children had the opportunity to get to know him better during these few days. The words from his letter to children were taken as the motto: “Praise God with your life”.

Each day began with a short prayer and a catechesis on the Saint. There was no lack of time for various games. The central moment of each day was the Eucharist. Nine mixed-age groups were formed to give the children a better opportunity to get to know each other. The groups were named according to the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Each participant received a bracelet with the name of their group to make it easier to find each other.

On the first day, there was an opportunity to get to know each other and not only hear but also see in pictures some facts about the life of St John Paul II. Tuesday was dedicated to the theme of sport. The children heard about the sport in the life of Karol Wojtyla during the morning catechesis. Then, with great enthusiasm, the children cheered on the teams during a football match. Two teams faced off: the volunteer boys on one side and the Redemptorist fathers on the other.

Later on, the participants also had the opportunity for physical activity. The scouts from our parish organised a “Big Game” for them, in which everyone could demonstrate their physical and mental abilities, and teamwork was needed above all to win.

Wednesday became a day for discovering talents from John Paul II’s life and one’s own. Participants did so in various workshops: national dance, singing, pottery, astronomy, football and many others. Thursday was a vocation-themed day. There was an opportunity to hear about the priestly vocation of Fr. Andrzej Jodkowski and Sr. Agata CSFN (our catechist) and other vocations and ministries – that of altar server, choir singer or even footballer. On that day, the invitation to discover one’s own path in life as a response to God’s invitation resonated strongly.

In the afternoon, there was time for creative work. The children were encouraged to paint how St John Paul II praised God with his life or how they praise God with their lives.

On the last day, it was time to take stock. First, there was a knowledge tournament about St John Paul II, then the presentation of prizes to the most active, able-bodied and otherwise skilled. Awarding prizes for demonstrated skills brought a lot of joy to both the participants and the organisers. No child was left without gifts. Each participant received a pen, a notebook and a timetable with the logo of “Holidays with God” and this year’s slogan, which will also remind them of the great figure of St John Paul II during the school year.

Fr Maxim Labkov and our catechist, Mrs Maryna Żybartowicz-Protas, undertook to organise the event.

In the end, there was no shortage of words of gratitude to the volunteers-animators and organisers of this time of active rest, with a resounding “THANK YOU!” this special holiday time was concluded.

Fr. Wiktor Bochan CSsR, Grodno