Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Giving Joy to Children Taking Exams

In Korea, Christians work at presenting their message in many different ways. Evangelizing is an important part of Catholicism. When someone has a message that gives happiness, it is natural to want to give it to others.

I have heard of many different ways of trying to approach others with the Christian message but giving lollypops to students was not one of them. In a recent Peace Weekly, a priest tells of his experience in doing just that.

At the end of the school term when students have exams, he goes alone or with his parish sisters, and sometimes with the Sunday school teachers to pass out lollypops. In the beginning, he went right after Mass in the morning, wearing his cassock. The parish sisters, seeing him dressed in the cassock, told him that it was the first time they ever saw a priest wearing a cassock in public. The next time he wore his clerical suit.

In the beginning, he had difficulty getting rid of one box of lollypops, which contained 150. The following year he prepared 4 boxes and that was not enough. The students were curious to know who were these strange people giving out lollypops, and would ask the Catholic students for more information. Often, after hearing about the Catholic Church, they would tell their Catholic friends that they would be going to Church, and asked for more lollypops.

The priest felt that he could read the faces of the students and make some pretty good calls on who would be asking for the lollypops.He would notice students who were uneasy about being there, trying not to make eye contact.

He would often say something like:
"Take this lollypop and eat it. By the way, what is your baptismal name?"

And responses would often be something like:
"My name is Peter but I am not going to Church these days...."

"No problem," he would say, "take this lollypop and do well in your exam, take courage."

No matter how bad the weather was, the priest went to the playgrounds during the days of exams to give out lollypops and offer encouragement.

Did the giving of lollypops help in the evangelizing? There's no way of knowing for sure, but the Mass for the children was crowded--it was a pleasure to hear their voices in praise--and students that were not coming out to Church began to show up. This made the priest happy, but at the same time he found it hard to accept that these good and bright young people would be judged only on how well they did on those exams.

He also kept thinking of those lollypops bringing joy into their lives; it was, of course, puzzling and not so puzzling: the priest was not only handing out lollypops but reaching out to the students with his concern for their welfare. And, not surprisingly, they responded.

No comments:

Post a Comment