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Vatican – Salesian oratory in St. Peter's shadow: for the first time a Summer Youth Camp in Vatican

29 May 2020

(ANS - Vatican City) - After the long period of confinement in their homes, during which the only certainty was that the Church would not leave young people alone in the summer, Italian families have become aware that they will, again this summer, be able to take advantage of that formidable educational environment that is the summer oratory. But for the families of the employees of the Holy See, the news is even more wonderful: for the first time, the Summer Camp, or Estate Ragazzi, will be held in Vatican City, coordinated by professionals of the sector: the spiritual Sons of Don Bosco.

“The Estate Ragazzi project was born as an initiative of the Governorate of Vatican City to meet the needs of the dads and mothers who work here,” explains Salesian Fr Franco Fontana, Rector of the Salesian community of the Vatican and chaplain of the Gendarmerie and the Vatican Museums. “Never like this year, after months in which families have been forced to stay at home, parents will have the need to entrust their children to trusted people who can restore hope, enthusiasm, and safely educate their children.”

Due to Covid-19, the number will be more limited compared to the initial project. However, up to 100 children and young people can be registered, divided by age group (from 5 to 7 years, from 8 to 10 and from 11 to 14). The summer oratory will begin on July 6 and lasts until July 31, weekdays from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm; Fridays, until 2:00 pm. And as in thousands of other oratories around the world, there is already a detailed program that will mark the day of the children and teens, divided between moments of socializing, swimming in the pool, games of tennis, soccer and basketball, sliding on the inflatables, ping-pong challenges inside the Paul VI Hall, but also guided visits to the Vatican Gardens and moments of prayer.

The theme chosen for this year will be "Happiness and Beatitudes", a theme that will be articulated as an educational-pedagogical path through a compelling story set in the world of sport: in this way it will be possible to talk about the importance of true happiness as an objective and style of life of each and every age.

The Salesians will be organizing the summer oratory with the association "Tutti in una festa." A lot of attention will obviously be dedicated to the safety measures for the Covid-19 emergency: the Summer Camp will take place, “in dedicated and equipped spaces. Different areas have been identified where children can socialize, play outdoor sports, play without renouncing the educational activities typical of an oratory,” explains Fr Fontana. The kids of the Vatican summer oratory will also "occupy" the large audience hall, still unused in those weeks, which will become a place for meeting, prayer, and socializing.

“We are sure that this initiative,” conclude Fr Fontana and Pasquale Acunzo, member of the association 'Tutti in una festa', “can give children a splendid opportunity to live together and rediscover the beauty of community life, which is the experience of being Church.”

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