Over 3500 children across Valcea ADP participate in catechetic activities through the Youth Bible Curriculum that increases their spiritual education and spreads the word of God.
Valcea County is in south west Romania, inhabited by a population of about 150,000 people, among whom almost 90% are orthodox Christians. The enthusiasm of the priests at the inauguration of the Youth Bible Curriculum (YBC) program has been doubled by the joy of the children and their parents since the Christian faith is deeply rooted in the souls of people within this region. For many of them the sound of the bells which is to be heard every Sunday at all the churches represents a calling to the religious services.
As priest Ionut Sandu from Saint John the Baptist church in Mihaesti, Valcea aptly says, “It is a good opportunity to spread God’s Word through the Catechetic lessons. The Youth Bible Curriculum is a project that the church deeply needs and is very useful for the children’s spiritual education.”
Mihaesti 2 Parish implemented the Project “Christ shared to Children” in July 2007. “The children enjoy the Catechetic lessons. Before, they used to come only to church. Now, they have their own place and a playground. They are able to mix the Catechetic lessons with games according to their age. Children between 6 - 7 years old participate in these activities, but there are also Youth with ages between 12-14 years old. They are very happy because they are interested to learn about God’s Word and because they have the opportunity to relate, to make friends and to enjoy the group homogeneity,” said the priest.
“Besides the orthodox children we are very pleased to notice children of other denominations too, for example Muslims, attending our classes for it is the Word of God, the Holy Bible which unites us,” said Father Radulescu, from Francesti Parish.
The atmosphere there is warm and hospitable, which is what makes the children attend it with great pleasure and at their own initiative. The children enrolled in the catechetical program are aged between 9 to 14 and have been divided into three groups according to their ages, for a more effective and attractive operation of the program. Every catechetical class is preceded and ended by saying a prayer that everyone takes part in, either from memory or using a prayer book.
Apart from the catechetical materials that priest Ionut passionately and skillfully prepares, the catechetical guidelines are of great help. They belong to the Youth Bible Curriculum that the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchy has edited in collaboration and with the support of World Vision Romania. A copy of it was given in October at the beginning of the catechetical year to every child, a book that they use and take home. In June, at the end of the catechetical year, children give these catechetical guidelines back to be used by the next generation.
“This is the third year I have been attending these classes. I came here hoping to learn more about the Church, Our Lord, Jesus Christ and Mother of God. Also, I like it because I get together with my friends, our priest and I learn many things,” says Cristina, 10 years old.
Their conviction that these catechetical classes are useful to them is shown by the fact that some of them have attended regularly for two, three or four years on a weekly basis.
“My daughter Ioana has been attending these catechetical sessions for a year. She is very enthusiastic about them, she knows now much more things about church and how she should behave. You will never forget the things that you learned in childhood and they remain in her heart forever,” said Ioana’s mother.
Besides these catechetic activities within the project there are organized school camps, glass icon painting workshops, carol concerts, etc. The summer camp manages to harmoniously combine religious activities (the prayers, the readings from the Holy Bible, discussions based on certain topics), with recreational ones (sports games,camps, campfires, musical or poetical shows).
The project has the full support of the church leadership and it is of significant value to build communities throughout Romania. Each month, 3,648 children from World Vision Romania communities, Valcea Area Development Programme, participate in the catechetic activities.