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A Double Header!
By Aristea Zekios

On Saturday, February 7, 2004, a combined Women's Retreat and Church School Teachers Workshop was held at Saint Luke from 9:30 am to 2:45 p.m. It was Co-hosted by Saint Luke and the Chicago Deanery/Diocese of the Midwest/OCA. The churches of the Chicago Deanery as well as other neighboring Orthodox churches were invited. Fifty-five participants from 11 different parishes attended.

It was the first time that the annual Women's Retreat was combined with a Deanery Teacher's Workshop - thus a real "double header." Michaelyn Sloan and Linda Kopulos from the Women's Ministry with Lana Kokayeff and Aristea Zekios from the Church School worked as a team to plan this schedule:

9:30 am to 10:00 am...Registration / Coffee & Snack
10:00 am to 11:30 am...Speakers: "God's Will / Free Will"
11:30 am to 12:30 pm...Lunch
12:30 pm to 2:45 pm...Women's Retreat Discussion Groups/Teachers' Workshop

The first speaker was Cindy Bastounes-Wierzba. She is busy working on a Master of Divinity from St. Vladimir Seminary, a Pan-orthodox Women's Conference at Antiochian Village in September of 2004 and a spiritual gifts lecture series at Christ the Savior OCA Church of Chicago in Lent of 2004.

The second speaker was Helen Irene Jonas who earned an M.A. in Theology from Holy Cross Seminary in Boston. She is a third grade teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, teaches Godparent and catechumen classes at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church of Palos Hills, and is presently working for a Masters in reading from St. Xavier.

Both speakers presented thought-provoking and inspiring material on a very challenging subject. Cindy walked everyone through Biblical illustrations of God's will and free will. Helen used the Church Fathers as her reference.

After lunch, the Church School teachers left the main body and gathered for an idea-swapping informal workshop. They were able to glean some refreshing "field-tested" projects to bring back to their respective parishes. They also participated in two hands-on presentations - (1) a children's sermon with Father Andrew and (2) a visit with Saint Herman of Alaska. There was also a display consisting of textbooks, crafts, photos from various activities, and ideas for everyone to share.

Meanwhile the Women's Workshop participants were divided into smaller breakout discussion groups where they were able to dissect the topic from the morning session. There was very interesting feedback and food for thought as a result.

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