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"Destination - Pascha" - A Church School Family Pre-Lenten Retreat
By Aristea Zekios

Thanks to the support of our dedicated staff and devoted parents, there was a record turnout on Sunday, March 6th. The morning started like most Sundays at Saint Luke with one exception - two Divine Liturgies were celebrated! Father Howard Sloan celebrated in the church nave while Father Andrew celebrated in the old fellowship hall downstairs. The liturgy upstairs was for parents and adults while downstairs there was a 'teaching' or 'instructional' liturgy for the students and staff. Admittedly, many parents sneaked downstairs for a brief look where they saw the toddlers and preschoolers sitting on a big rug. Gathered around them were the staff and students singing the responses. Father Andrew offered explanations as he walked everyone through the liturgy. It was amazing to see the very young so attentive! This 'teaching' liturgy was a first for Father Andrew. From the feedback I received, it left quite an impact on everyone.

After liturgy, the entire congregation gathered for a catered pre-Lenten brunch. Father reminded everyone that it would be the last time meat would be served at Saint Luke until Pascha, May 1st. Consequently the bacon and sausages were the first to be consumed.

By noon the students reported to their classrooms for afternoon activities based on selected themes for each level. Preschool through sixth grade were assigned Pre-Lenten Sundays of Zacchaeus, Prodigal Son, and Last Judgment. Music Director Maria Vrame also brought excitement to students with her usual lively music. For crafts, each child made a 9" by 12" reversible felt banner. One side was a darker color to depict Great Lent; the other side was a lighter shade for Pascha. This was a reminder that to reach Pascha, we must first travel through Great Lent. Father Andrew also met with students who are preparing for their first confession. As an added attraction, Deacon Andrew Werbiansky escorted the preschoolers into the church where he showed them the various items on the altar table. They were not only fascinated with the sacred items, but with the vivid stories that Deacon Andrew told.

The Junior High and High School students viewed a video entitled, "Darwinism-Unlocking the Mystery of Life." Father Andrew led them in a lively discussion about the video and answered their questions. When Father finished, Deacon Andrew and Chris Dandeles resumed command for further discussion about Great Lent and Pascha. Later Maria Kosotpanagiotou topped off the teen class with T-shirt designing. I must admit we have some creative teens!

While the students were engaged in all these activities, the parents were invited to participate in an adult discussion group facilitated by Father Howard Sloan. The topic was, "The Purpose Driven Life." Father Howard presented an outline of the book and after a general introduction, two smaller groups were formed. The second group was led by Michaelyn Sloan. Between Father Howard and his wife, a practical and enlightening presentation was offered. Parents of toddlers were able to participate in this discussion because Pat Harrison shared her grandmother skills by providing child care.

At 2:30 pm, everyone met in the church for a closing prayer and photograph. Lest anyone forgets the retreat, there will be reminders posted around the church in the form of large banners. The teachers worked diligently to pre-cut the designs and prepare them for easy assembly by the students.

In closing, I'd like to thank the entire staff for all their hard work. In addition to those workers mentioned above, thank you to Elizabeth Wassilkowsky, Helen Partoll, Anna Kokayeff, Lana Kokayeff, Lynn Betsanes, Pat Ketchmark, Sharon Mochel, Cheryl Evangelopoulos, Mary Jo Werbiansky, Lynn Rizo, and Chris Zubenko. We are truly blessed to have such a team!

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