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Issue Date:  April 4, 2008

Teens lead Sunday school at mission

Wangon, Indonesia

As Theodorus Argo Nugroho stood before about 40 children from 3 to 10 years old, a poster with three pictures on it was displayed behind him.

“What is this?” the 15-year-old asked the children, pointing at an animal drawn in one picture against a background of a verdant forest with various other animals.

“Goat!” the children replied simultaneously.

“And what is this?” he asked once again, now pointing at a monkey in the picture.

“You! That is you!” the children answered, laughing heartily.

The exchange came during a Sunday Faith Formation for Children program. Nugroho teaches religious education for children of St. Paschal Mission Station in Kelapa Gading Kulon, a village near Wangon in Banyumas district. The program, managed by Medical Mission Sisters, began in 2005 and now has seven teenagers who teach about 40 children.

For the Sunday-school class, held 9 to 10 a.m., the children sit on mats in a room in the Medical Mission Sisters’ convent.

On Feb. 17, Nugroho linked environmental concern with faith commitment.

Forests initially had leafy trees and many animals lived in them, he told the children. “But look at this picture,” he continued, pointing at another drawing showing a dirty town where factories and vehicles belch smoke, people throw trash into a river and felled trees lie along the river bank.

“Trees are chopped down and smoke contaminates the air,” Nugroho said. He reminded the children that throwing trash into rivers will pollute them. “Jesus gets sad if he sees this,” the youth told them.

The last of the three pictures showed a clean town where people remove trash from a river and children ride bicycles.

Prior to Nugroho’s presentation, another teenager read from St. Matthew’s Gospel about the Transfiguration, the Gospel reading for that Sunday. A reflection presented by Medical Mission Sr. Henrica Kusmilah followed. Games and religious songs ended the session.

“I have been teaching Sunday school to children since I was a sixth-grader,” Nugroho later told UCA News. He began in June 2005, after a Medical Mission nun asked him to help. Nugroho, now in ninth grade, said, “I would abandon my responsibility if I did not teach the children.”

National Catholic Reporter, April 4, 2008

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