Saturday, October 13, 2018

Apple pie, and the apples of our eyes

Ready for the Bake Sale!
Come on out!
Our Fall Festival is this weekend, assuming the hurricane isn’t parked overhead, or some other grim weather befall us.  It has been a strange late summer into autumn this year, difficult to predict, but we move forward with confidence.
One of the most important parts of the Festival is the attendance of kids, ideally lots and lots of kids, including kids with families who aren’t usually here, or even have never been here before.   Neighbors, coworkers, family members who live a few suburbs away, and even a few strangers should all be invited and encouraged to come; most people are on the lookout for something different and delightful to do with the family. 
It takes more than a bouncey house (though there will be one) to make kids excited and their parents comfortable, though.  What you will have heard about as we have asked and asked for more is the volunteers.  Here at Saint Bernadette we are blessed with an enormous number of people who are gifted at and dedicated to providing all that children need to be happy, healthy, and safe.  I marvel at the moms, the dads, the teachers, and the coaches who demonstrate an elevated awareness of and care for kids, whether their own, their friends’, or even ones they’ve never seen before.
One recent Friday evening on the back field, during CYO Intramurals (what I call Munchkinball) I marveled at the swarms of young people who moved about in something resembling elaborate choreography.  There were the little ones in uniforms on the field, discovering the joy of soccer through a particularly coach-intensive tutorial.  But besides these who were registered for this structured activity, there were others.  Their older siblings moved about in small packs delineated by age and (usually) gender.  Several un-structured and un-supervised games of basketball were pursued enthusiastically.  Younger siblings, too, ran, shrieked, giggled, played with one another, and alternately tried to elude or find their parents.  The swings and the other playground equipment attracted these kids and engaged them one with another. In the midst it all, the parents (not engaged in coaching) seem blithely to be enjoying one another’s company.
But making possible what looks like chaos, albeit joyful, is a constant, conscious, and careful level of attention and care and communal responsibility that makes the joy possible, and safe.  The moms, the dads, the teachers, and the coaches are united not only in helping a lost little one find his mom, or soothing the anguish of a fall, but also in vigilance against anyone who would take advantage of these happy, trusting children.
Undergirding it all, we have structures, programs, evaluations, and criteria such as VIRTUS and background checks in which our coaches, teachers, volunteers, and many moms and dads willingly cooperate.  But what makes that work, and what conveys the confidence to make such fun possible, is the adults’ elevated awareness of and care for kids, whether their own, their friends’, or even ones they’ve never seen before.  No government organization can arrange for that; one cannot train or pay a staff to provide it; nor can you ask it of an ordinary group or community.  That is why having it here is a marvel, and why it is a necessity. 
Not only do I admire all of you whose generosity and vigilance make our events open, inviting, and safe for families and their children, but I invite you to renew and intensify the conscious and careful responsibility that you so freely share.  It is you who make possible so many of the best things we do around here.  
It has been a strange late summer into autumn this year, but we move forward with confidence.  It will be great to welcome visitors and friends to our Fall Festival, knowing it will feature something that they cannot find many other places:  kids, ideally lots and lots of kids, including kids with families who aren’t usually here, or even have never been here before, and all of them safe.    
Monsignor Smith

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