(Vatican City). From 4 July to 5 August 2022, ‘Summer Children’ took place in the equipped spaces within the Vatican City, an opportunity offered by the Governorate of the Vatican City State to the children of employees of the Holy See, more than 200 children between 5 and 13 years, now in its third edition.
The animation of these days was coordinated by a team made up of Salesians of Don Bosco, two Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Charlène Biloa from Cameroon, of the Community of St. Mary D. Mazzarello and Sr. Monaliza Bernardino, Brazilian, of the Community of Mother Ersilia Canta, of the Preprovince of Mary Mother of the Church (RMC), by animators belonging to the Association ‘All in a feast’, and by adolescent help-animators who made themselves available.
Sr. Monaliza and Sr. Charlène recount the experiences lived:
“Giant Dreams” was the theme of ‘Summer Children 2022’, inspired by the children’s book “The GGG” (Big Gentle Giant) by Roald Dahl, a starting point for the adventure experienced by the children over the course of the five weeks. Giants exist and are truly hostile and evil. Only one of them is tender and kind, and blows the most beautiful dreams into the bedrooms of the sleeping children, but he is always scared of his world and does not know how to change things, until the night he meets Sofia, a really brave girl.
Both of the characters are called to become giants in order to overcome evil. They put themselves fully into play with creativity and imagination, setting ambitious objectives for themselves that are necessary to combat the other evil giants. The theme chosen wanted to help the children to progressively find the courage to look a bit beyond, placing at the center of their formative proposal the DREAMS of each one, even the simplest.
It was also the opportunity to discover that Jesus is the strongest Giant of GGG, who protects in every occasion, even in the darkest moments when one is overcome by the daily challenges. It is to remember that God dreams together with each of us because children are the subjects of His most beautiful dreams.
Johnny Bosco is the example of a boy who believed in God’s dreams; he became a priest and dedicated his life to making His children grow like masterpieces. So, every week, we also listened to his dreams and we placed our own. How beautiful it is to grow up together! This is the time when you don’t have to be afraid of being a giant and doing great things!
His stories still make today’s kids grow and make it clear that we must not be afraid to do great things, to bring joy at any time of the day, to be kind even after a defeat, to propose brilliant ideas, to generate genuine friendships, and to learn through play… A beautiful life program!
Part of the Vatican territory was involved in this large summer oratory in the shadow of St. Peter’s Dome. Paul VI Hall became the space for formative activities, prayer, and ‘gentle moment’, and recreational activities like games, inflatables, table football, football, and also for breakfast, lunch, and snack. In the Vatican Gardens, we had educational moments and guided tours, team games and sports activities, and also swimming, tennis, and water games. It was a playground a stone’s throw from the Pope’s house in which to play and learn how to grow up.
A beautiful and significant moment was the ‘Got Talent’, where the children were the protagonists, showing their parents their creativity, their talents, and what they learned during these weeks of Summer Children (songs, dance, theater, gymnastics, art, etc.).
The most awaited moment was the meeting with Pope Francis on 3 August 2022. At the end of the General Audience, he addressed a special greeting to the children who participated in the Summer Children at the Vatican, encouraging them to be courageous and to always have a smile on their face. He thanked the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians for their tireless work among children and young people according to the Salesian charism, inviting them not to lose the enthusiasm he saw in each one. In a special way, he thanked Fr. Franco Fontana, “the chaplain of the Gendarmerie, the spiritual soul of the Vatican who, as a good Salesian, was able to sow the seed to have this summer camp already in its third year.”
Living and sharing these weeks with children, adolescents, animators, and Salesians was a rich and profound experience in an atmosphere of family, joy, friendship, and collaboration. Animated by the specific traits of the “spirit of Mornese” and of “I entrust them to you” of Mother Mazzarello, we accompanied the children and adolescents on their journey through dreams in formation to the faith, preparation for confession, songs, and Eucharist; and to gratuitousness and solidarity through games. We are thankful for the opportunity to share the Salesian Charism in the feminine as Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.