People at St. Luke-Meet the Dandeles Family
As best we can remember, we first came to St. Luke in 1991. We had
recently moved into our home and noticed that the 'haunted church by sled hill' was now an
Orthodox Church. One day in the fall, on the way to Orland, we saw Mary Jo and Deacon
Andrew [Werbiansky] in the parking lot. We stopped and asked about the church. The next
week we went to Liturgy and have been attending ever since."-Debbie Dandeles
Debbie Dandeles was Lutheran at one time. However, after attending St.
Luke for several years, she said it just made sense to convert to Orthodoxy. She found the
Orthodox Liturgy to be very moving, and she agreed with Orthodox doctrine. So she became
Orthodox about six years ago.
Debbie's husband, Dennis, was raised as a Greek Orthodox, but he
attended church inconsistently as a child. He couldn't understand Greek, and his church had
no Sunday School. So his understanding of Church doctrine and Christianity was very
limited. Today, however, Dennis is a regularly attending member of St. Luke Church. He was
in charge of the Building Maintenance Ministry for several years, spent time on the New
Building Committee, and now heads the Environmental Ministry.
The Dandeles children were 8, 10, and 12 years old when the Dandeles
family began attending St. Luke. The children were baptized as infants at SS. Constantine
and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Palos Hills, Illinois. The boys, Chris (12) and Greg
(10), attended Church School at St. Luke through high school, and daughter Lauren (8)
until her senior year. Debbie said that St. Luke Church School provided a good
understanding of Orthodoxy for them.
When Chris went to Wheaton College, he found that 99.9% of his fellow
students were Protestant. Also, they had no knowledge of Orthodoxy. Chris' discussions with
these students not only increased their knowledge of the Orthodox Church but also
strengthened his understanding and appreciation of it. Chris is now a faculty member at
Timothy Christian Schools in Elmhurst. For the past two years he was asked to teach a
lesson on Orthodoxy to the senior religion class. Chris still attends St. Luke and with
Maria Kopulos facilitates the learning of the high-school students and the Young Orthodox
After high school Greg went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado
Springs, Colorado. During the past four years there he has attended the Liturgy and Bible
Study. Lauren now goes to Augustana College where she attends a Lutheran service.
(The local Orthodox Church is not within walking distance). However, last year she invited
several friends (one had a car) to the Orthodox Pascha service.
The Dandeles' feel that although St. Luke parish membership has changed
(some people moved and new people came), the sense of community and caring has remained the
same. The biggest changes, they say, have been the addition of iconographic murals to the
sanctuary walls, the new iconostas, and the new Educational Building. All of this, the
Dandeles' feel, reflects the hard work of Fr. Andrew and many members of St. Luke parish.
Orthodoxy is important to the Dandeles family. Their faith, they admit,
is the center of what they do. They believe that everything they have is a great gift from
the Lord, and they praise Him continually. It is a great joy to have the Dandeles family at
St. Luke Orthodox Church.