WAUTOMA — Each year, Vacation Bible School students at St. Joseph Parish in Wautoma learn about the blessings of giving to others.
This year, the message hit particularly close to home. Holly Maes-Kallestad, 42, a former parishioner who now attends St. Mary Magdelene Parish in Waupaca, has a rare cancer. Her parents, Don and Nanci Maes, still attend St. Joseph.
All the members of the parish have been praying for Holly, but Therese Kasuboski, coordinator of religious education for kindergarten through fifth grades, was inspired to do even more. She said that the Holy Spirit moved her and Paula Caswell, the coordinator for grades six through 11, to lead the children in a fund-raising craft activity during this year’s Vacation Bible School, held June 21-23, to benefit Holly.
They asked parishioners to donate clay pots for the project, and the children then painted garden themes on them. “We put a notice in the bulletin twice, and we had plenty of pots to paint,” Kasuboski said. “Our church is so giving for our youth.”
She said the children already were aware of Maes-Kallestad’s situation because of the special prayers, and she and Caswell explained to the youths that Maes-Kallestad used to attend Vacation Bible School at their same church and now has children about their own ages.
Kasuboski said the children “reacted very well and were very enthusiastic. It was a fun and an awesome experience for them. It taught the kids about giving to others.”
Don Maes just finished his term as Grand Knight for the parish’s Knights of Columbus, and the group donates toward the Vacation Bible School each year. Kasuboski also told the children, “They always do for us. Let’s do something for them.”
When Maes and other members visited Vacation Bible School, the children announced to him what they were doing. “He was very grateful and had tears in his eyes,” Kasuboski said. “He was very surprised that the VBS kids were doing this for someone they didn’t know. He thanked them and talked about his daughter.”
A total of 83 pots were offered during Masses at the parish and $463.38 was raised in free-will donations.
Lessons the children studied focused on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, Jesus feeding the 5,000 and the image of a sower.
“All three of these show Jesus’ caring,” Kasuboski said. “Jesus took care of us. We tried to teach them that he wants us to take care of others and help spread his word. This was a special way to show their care. We need to care for others as Jesus cares for us.
“This taught them to give to others and to be kind to people even if they don’t know them. The Holy Spirit spoke through us,” she added.