My beloved spiritual children in Christ,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
HAS OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL BECOME A GLORIFIED BABY-SITTING SERVICE ON SUNDAY MORNING?
"With us everything should be secondary compared to our concern with children, and their upbringing in the instruction and teaching of the Lord." Saint John Chrysostom
Philosophy of our Catechetical ("Sunday School") Program
The philosophy of our Church School Program is based on a Christocentric approach, which prepares the students with principles of the Orthodox Christian Faith, encouraging them to grow in Christ and holy Service. Our program builds a solid foundation for the children of our parish through exemplary lessons in the Teaching and Worship Practices and Tradition of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church.
The purpose of Orthodox Christian Education is to help build up the Church, the Body of Christ, by nurturing every person in the life of personal communion with God the Holy Trinity (theosis or deification), and thus, through this holy diakonia (ministry), to bear joyful witness to God's loving and redeeming work in the world.
The Orthodox Christian Education aims at the communication of the content of Christian Truth in the context of concrete Christian living: believing, praying, worshipping, learning, applying, growing, sharing, serving, and witnessing.
We accomplish these goals by providing age appropriate curriculum and faithful enthusiastic, devout, committed individuals to teach our parish children.
Therefore, the holy mission of our Catechetical School Program is based on an approach which prepares the students with the principles of the Orthodox Christian Faith, encouraging them to grow in God's service. Our program builds a solid foundation for the children of our parish through exemplary lessons in the teaching and the Worship Practices of the Holy Orthodox Christian faith, using the fundamental tools of:
Worship: participating in church worship, Sacramental life and prayer life.
Parish: sharing in the total life of the church
Discipleship: learning how to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ faithfully and His Divine Gospel Message
Diakonia (service): serving the needs of the poor, destitute, homeless, suffering, in and around the greater community.
Witness: fulfilling Christ's Divine Mission in the world.
Through these intertwined tools we hope each parish child has received not only the knowledge of the Christian Truth called Orthodoxia, but also a formation and development of Christian Character by living a lifestyle representative of our Holy Christian faith called Orthodpraxia.
Ways Parents Can Help Strengthen The Foundation of Religious Education
- Plan to be in church for the Divine Liturgy on time (10:00 a.m.) and worship together as a Christian family. Worshipping together counters the contemporary fragmentation of families. Hectic American life leaves little time for significant togetherness. It is hard to overestimate the good and positive influence of Christian families doing valuable things together week in and week out, year in and year out.
Worship is the most valuable thing a human can do. Parents have the responsibility to teach their children by their own example the meaning and value of worship. Therefore parents should want their children with them in worship so the children can catch the spirit and form of their parents' worship.
Children should experience firsthand how Mom and Dad participate in the Divine Liturgy with joy in their faces, and how happy they are to receive Holy Communion and be united with Christ our Lord.
- Be consistent. Attend church divine services faithfully.
- Be respectful to the volunteer teacher who is teaching your child. Cooperate with him/her so that her efforts are not in vain.
- Following the Divine Liturgy visit the classroom of your child and meet the teacher to see and learn what lessons your child is learning so that lesson material can be reinforced at home; ask your child if he/she has any special handouts from the teacher.
- See that your child comes to class prepared with books, homework assignments, etc.
- Practice our Holy Orthodox Christian faith at home, observe fast days and schedule family prayer time. Use the Orthodox Study Bible to encourage them to become familiar with the Holy Scripture. Children are great imitators; what they see you do, you will see them do.
- Be sincere and realistic in setting spiritual goals as you grow in our Christian faith. Our Loving and Merciful God will always provide more than you will ever need, but you need to be willing and ready to be called and to follow Him in every aspect of your life.
- Parents should have a good knowledge of our Holy Orthodox Christian faith and have a sound prayer and Sacramental life.
- Do not feel alone, or overwhelmed, but turn to God the Holy Spirit for guidance, understanding, illumination and encouragement. Stand firm in our Holy Orthodox Christian Tradition and do not show indifference and apathy when it comes to your personal salvation.
"Sunday School" is not an Orthodox practice. "Sunday School" is a Protestant practice. For the Orthodox Christian the Lord's Day is a day that is totally dedicated to worship God through the Divine Liturgy. Religious Education in Orthodox Christian countries is offered either through the public school system or on Saturdays. We have accepted the Protestant "Sunday School" program because we are influenced by Protestantism and to make it possible for our children to learn something more of their Orthodox Faith. The way it is now unfortunately no Orthodox Christian parent would be willing to make the sacrifice or time to bring the child/ren during the week or Saturday. It is understood, however, that the Orthodox Christian family would at least attend the Divine Liturgy faithfully and not to come in five minutes before Holy Communion is administered. What kind of message do we send to the child with that attitude? What kind of habits do they form? The Holy Eucharist does not fall in the category of fast food!
Let us begin anew and work together as an Orthodox Christian family and set the right example for our children. Let us give them the opportunity to experience the Divine Liturgy and hopefully to learn what it means to be an Orthodox Christian. The teachers and I know that the children want to learn but the question is are you, the Orthodox Christian parents, willing to support them and help them? Let us not treat the Church School as a babysitting service on Sunday morning.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,