"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
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
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!