Cuban Children Enjoy Learning the Basics of Faith

Children everywhere have a way of cutting through religious jargon to talk about the basics of faith, with the children of Cojimar, Cuba, being no different.

“How can God exist if He died and I can’t see Him?” asked one participant of “The Children of Cojímar,” a new educational-recreational program offered for the first time last year by the parish of Nuestra Señora del Carmen. The parish is named for the Blessed Virgin Mary as protector of all waters, seamen and fishermen.

Led by the young people of the parish with the support of friends from Cuba and outside the country, the program attracted 20 children aged 6 to 11, reported Rosa María Cepero, an OMI lay associate of the parish of Cojímar-Havana East.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate came to Cuba in 1997 after the Church’s more than 30-year absence following Castro coming to power. Though there are still some legal barriers to evangelization, parishioners are eager to welcome children.

In the summer program, children from the neighborhood as well as vacation visitors to the area enjoyed fishing, drawing, working with clay, playing games, going on treasure hunts, boxing, building with Lego blocks, making cards and more. Children presented the cards they made to their grandfathers during Mass on Grandfathers’ Day.

The program features at least 40 minutes a day dedicated to reading and discussing Bible passages, which was a new experience for many participants.

The question “Who is Eve?” brought an unexpected answer from one child: “My aunt’s puppy.” The discussion leader introduced the children to the story of the first couple and other Bible stories. Another day, a child noted, “God is old.”

“We finished with a lot of enthusiasm for next summer,” Ms. Cepero said. They would like to offer new activities and get the word out more in order to serve more children.

The parish is now offering to offer a Saturday morning program during the school year in which children study the Bible and English and enjoy games and crafts.

“Children are the future of our country and the world,” Cepero said. “Our Lady of Carmen, protect and pray for the children of Cojímar!”.