Saturday, September 23, 2006

Children become Little Flowers, Blue Knights

Stephanie Winter and her daughters spread workbooks out on their dining room table. The girls, Angel, 9, and Elizabeth, 7, look over the lessons. There is much to study: courage, joy, loyalty, generosity, love of God, truthfulness and self-control.

The family hopes to start two clubs in Superior, one for boys and one for girls, which will meet monthly for lessons on these and other virtues. The clubs are not Girl or Boy Scout troops, but gathering of Catholic students, 5 to 10 years old, called Little Flowers (for girls) and Blue Knights (for boys).

Little Flowers is not new to Angel and Elizabeth; they had once been club members while part of a Catholic network of families in Duluth, Minn., which home school their children.

Winter and her husband, Buzzy, live in rural Douglas County, with their daughters, including 4-year-old Cecilia, and a menagerie of outdoor critters: a dog, cats, chickens, ducks and one favored yellow-plumed cockatiel that shares the family's roof.

When the Duluth Little Flowers club dissolved, Winter wanted to offer Superior children a chance to grow in their faith through the programs. The clubs and virtue lessons are not intended to replace regular catechetical classes. "They're a supplement," Winter said. "Like Bible studies are for adults.

Each virtue lesson -- and there are many -- has specific requirements. Manuals for adult leaders are available with suggestions for age-appropriate discussions, activities, crafts and games. Each lesson features a saint, prayers and Scripture. When children complete the requirements, they receive a badge.

For example, the self-control lesson highlights St. Felicity and leaders tell stories to help the children understand the virtue. "I get angry at my brother when he takes my toy," Winter said, illustrating a primary lesson in self-control. "Self-control would mean walking away, not hitting him."

Other activities she suggests on self-control are: Make plans to go to confessions with your family; ask Jesus to help you to have more self-control; practice manners with your family; make a "what would Jesus do" sign for your refrigerator.

Each lesson plans has examples for each virtue. "That why I really love the program," Winter said. "It makes our faith relevant to a child." Besides a saint for each virtue, there's a corresponding Scripture verse to memorize and recommended prayers.

One Little Flowers virtue, which sent the diocese's scholarly moderator of the curia, Fr. Philip Heslin, to his Greek dictionary is "eutrapelia," a Greek word that alludes to liveliness and politeness. According to the Little Flowers literature, "it means doing what's expected of you at the time," Winter said.

St. Mary, the sister of Martha, whose feast day is July 29, is the epitome of this virtue. And to receive the eutrapelia badge, the children memorize 1 Cor 10:31: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

The first meeting of the Little Flowers and Blue Knights will be on Oct. 2 at St. Anthony Church, Superior, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information call Winter at 715-394-4149 or Bill Kovaleski, who will be the adult leader for the Blue Knights, at 715-394-1194. Winter can also be reached by e-mail at Superor Catholic Herald

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