Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Summer Program Brings in Kids for Mass, Healthy Fun

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Summer Program Brings in Kids for Mass, Healthy Fun

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

By UCA NEWS

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM -- Mass, breakfast and a day packed with games and sports: This is how a parish here is running a summer program for children during the school holidays.

For Anne Nguyen Hai Co, 13, and her friends, the day's activities at Binh An Thuong Parish begin at 4:45 a.m. with Mass, followed by breakfast and then games such as hide-and-seek and jumping rope in the church compound.

Co, who sings in the church choir, has to get up at 4 a.m. to arrive on time each day. But she says the effort is worth it. "I've felt better since coming to church each day," she said.

Fr. Francis Xavier Nguyen Xuan Quang, 48, pastor of Birth An Thuong Parish, says about 150 local children take part in the program, which includes soccer, badminton, volleyball, basketball, chess, dominoes, ticktack-toe and other traditional games.

The summer program began on May 20 and will run until early August. Quang says he spent 10 million dong (U.S. $555) on sports equipment for the program.

He says local benefactors cover the 5,000 dong-a-head cost of breakfast, including rice, meat and milk, for children who attend church in the early morning.

"The program aims to help local children fall into a habit of attending daily Mass in summer months so that they can maintain the habit at other times of the year," the priest said.

In the past, weekday Masses were attended by around 80 adults, Quang said. …

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