By Maisy Sullivon
Students from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the site of the tragic shooting on May 24, joined their families this month at a summer camp designed to help them begin the process of healing from their traumatic experiences.
“Camp I-CAN,” which stands for “Inner strength, Commitment, Awareness, and Networking,” is the latest initiative organized by the non-profit Catholic Extension to help the Uvalde community in the aftermath of the shooting.
“As a Church we cannot forget what has happened in Uvalde. This entire community has witnessed unspeakable violence, and an unfathomable loss of young life and innocence,” Joe Boland, Catholic Extension’s vice president of mission, told CNA. “The Catholic Church is a true agent of mercy and healing in Uvalde for these suffering children and families.”
Camp I-CAN, which took place July 15-28 at St. Henry de Osso Project Center in Uvalde, Texas, “provided 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders a safe space to heal, have fun, and gently reintegrated the children into a school-like setting around their peers,” according to a recent press release. It included faith-based activities, music, arts and crafts, physical activities, and other forms of entertainment for children to acclimate themselves to difficult circumstances.
Catholic Extension, according to their website, is a “fundraising organization that helps ensure that all American Catholics can practice their faith within vibrant faith communities.” Their stated mission is to “connect poor and remote Catholic communities with essential financial support, educational partnerships, and infrastructure.”
Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, said, “It is our goal, that through the spiritual accompaniment of religious sisters, the children and their families of Uvalde, Texas feel God’s presence, and are reminded that they are not forgotten or alone in the coming year and beyond.”
Sister Dolores Aviles, the Teresian leader of Camp I-CAN, is an Uvalde native. She felt called to help after she heard God speak to her, saying “Let the children come to Me.”
“This week, we wanted the children and their families to know that we are praying for them, we love them, and that we will also take action for them. That’s what community is,” said Aviles.
Catholic Extension has a long history in Uvalde and a powerful connection with the victims and survivors of the shooting.
The Catholic Extension press release said, “Uvalde was one of the first-ever communities Catholic Extension supported, helping build Sacred Heart Church in 1906.” CNA reported that, following the shooting, 11 of the victims’ funerals took place at Sacred Heart Church.
Catholic Extension plans to fund more initiatives as time passes, and they said that Camp I-CAN is the “first of many.” For more information on ways to support the children in Uvalde through Catholic Extension’s programs, please visit catholicextension.org/uvalde.
(SOURCE: CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)