“The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church,” said Pope Francis on Twitter. We might also say that the welfare of the children is decisive for the welfare of the family.
It is not only parents who look after children’s welfare. It is true, of course, as Saint John Paul II wrote in his Letter to Families in 1994, that parents are “the first and principal educators” of their children. But he added that they can also share this responsibility “with other individuals and institutions, such as the Church”, who will fulfil this educational duty on their behalf. This is what is happening in the summer camps run by the Ordinaries for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe. This year 800 children aged between 9 and 18 will be taking part in the summer camps. Their parents know that their children will be spending their time here in a Christian atmosphere and at the same time learning a great deal about their spiritual inheritance in the Armenian Catholic Church.
In addition to daily Mass and catechism classes, the programme includes a great deal of sport, hiking and group games, as well as Armenian dancing, folklore and learning about the history and culture of the country. The children and young people all come from poor families and would otherwise have no opportunity to have such a holiday. Quite a few of the young people are actually baptised during the summer camp; last year 25 of them received the sacrament. Others will prepare for their First Holy Communion with the help of the catechists and priests. It would be hard to do more for the welfare of these children. We are helping with €25,000.