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News and Events - September 2008

 
NEWS AND EVENTS - Friday September 19, 2008

SIXTH ANNUAL TEACHER'S CONFERENCE

Lake Forest, IL - On September 6, 2008, a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, about 30 lay educators gathered at the St. Basil of Ostrog Church in Lake Forest, IL, for the Sixth Annual Church School Teacher’s Seminar sponsored by the Department of Christian Education of the Midwestern Metropolitanate.


To begin the seminar, all participants gathered in church to pray the Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos.  Afterwards, four speakers gave enlightening presentations on various topics.

Mrs. Mary Perisich, a member of St. Basil’s parish spoke on the “Impact of Modern Literature on a Child’s Development.”  Mrs. Perisich began by discussing the negative impact that many current books offered and promoted in our schools have on the morality of our children.  Such books as, And Tango Makes Three, Looking for Alaska and the Gossip Girl series, promote behaviors that are not condoned by the Church, but are considered “ok” in today’s society.  Many of the books assigned as literature in schools emphasize and condone the negative aspect of society and behavior.  She greatly emphasized the need of parents to be educated and aware of what is being taught in our schools and offered in our public library as classroom curriculum.

Mrs. Perisich stated that parents must also be aware of the Internet and what it offers- the games, “Face Book”, “My Space”, chat rooms- sites that our children have access to that have a potential for abuse.  Advertising and media venues that promote a sexually permissive lifestyle are also targeting our children.  Abercrombie & Fitch target 7-14 year olds with visuals that are adult-only in nature.    Even our public schools have been stepping over parental rights, by sponsoring a “Day of Silence” promoting acceptance of the homosexual and gay lifestyle and offering emergency contraceptives without parental permission.

The fight for the morality of our children is difficult for not only does the media   (TV, movies and music) and corporate advertising promote an un-Christian lifestyle to our children, many times our governmental bodies actually support their efforts. As Orthodox Christian parents, we need to be educated, first in the teachings of our Holy Orthodox faith and secondly, in what our children are being exposed to, both in school and at home- via the media, Internet, etc, so that we can stand firm in what’s right in the battle for the morality of our children.

 
 Fr. Deacon Vasilije Vranic, a doctoral student at Marquette University, and deacon at the St. Sava parish in Milwaukee, spoke on the topic of “The Ecclesial Authority of Laypersons’ Missionary Work”.  Deacon Vasilije stated that in our Church life, the role of the clergy is stressed, but then asked, “ What is the role of the layperson in the life of the church?”  He stated that we must look for the answer in both scripture and the history of the Church.  In I Peter 2:9, we are called the ‘royal priesthood’, ‘a chosen generation’, and are all called to offer spiritual sacrifices to God through our prayer and good works.  This was confirmed by the Fathers of the Church (especially of the Syrian provenance) who said that the layperson offer sacrifices of prayer to God on the altar of their heart. This offering is the ‘priestly’ function of the layperson. Moreover, if one’s heart is the altar, then the whole body is a temple (cf. I Cor 6:19).  The “ordained” priesthood and the ‘royal’ priesthood are on the same sacramental level because it is one Holy Spirit who makes both possible. The two aspects of priesthood must not be understood in terms of rivalry, because they are complementary and represent two different functions in the life of the Church. Deacon Vasilije stated that all of us are called to use the talents we are blessed with to build up the Mystical Body of Christ- His Church.

Another member of St. Basil’s, Mr. Daniel Dejanovich, spoke on the topic, “What is the relationship between cradle verses convert Orthodox Christians in the mission parish setting?” He touched on the struggles that we all face as Orthodox Christians whether we are cradle Orthodox or converts, and that struggles can be good- they are the crosses we bear on the road to salvation.  Mr. Dejanovich also touched upon the questions:  “Can Christian Education help bridge the divide between the Cradle and Convert Orthodox?”  and “In what role can the priest and educators assist in that process?’’  He brought up many good points throughout his presentation, challenging us as educators to look to the Converts for their knowledge of scripture, giving hearts and zeal for the Holy Orthodox Faith while drawing upon our Cradle Orthodox to encourage the converts by sharing their ability to uphold the true Traditions of the Church.

Mr. Dejanovich called upon us all to remember Christ’s teachings in Matthew 7:3-5 and not to judge our brother until we had removed the “plank from our own eye.”

 
Fr. Radovan Jakovljevic, our Director of the Department of Education, next shared a power point presentation on the “Church School Dilemma.”   Challenging us with  Christ’s great commission for all of us, he reminded us of our Lord’s words in Matthew 20:19-20, “teaching, baptizing and observing.”   As educators we have taken on His command to “teach” and while doing so, “observe” or follow His teachings throughout our life.  Our most important teaching tool is to lead by example.  Fr. Radovan pointed out many of the problems we face in our Church Schools. Throughout his presentation he offered excellent guidelines and directions to follow that would help deal with any we may face. Being too numerous to mention in this short article, Fr. Radovan has offered to make his presentation available to Church Schools for direction and guidance.

After these fine presentations, the participants were divided into groups to practice lesson planning and curriculum decisions. Challenged with planning a lesson for a very specific age group around a specific topic and scripture quote in a few minutes, the groups pulled together and came up with very good lessons to attain their objectives.  Each group did and excellent job presenting their plans to the rest of the participants.

During lunch, Father Radovan showed part of a DVD entitled, “Surviving Your Adolescent” with Dr. Thomas Phelan presenting.  It touched on the relationships between parents and adolescents and how to address issues that come up during this stressful time.  Fr. Radovan praised Dr. Phelan’s approach to handling issues and suggested that it be offered at a youth/ parent conference or workshop.

This was an excellent seminar giving teachers from all over the Diocese a chance to meet each other, discuss concerns and learn new things.  A special thank you must be extended to Fr. Vladimir Vranic and his parishioners for hosting this event.  With special thanks to Mrs. Jelica Kostov for preparing all the delicious food and Mr. Daniel Dejanovich who gave each of the ladies present a beautiful orchid corsage.

Submitted by Diane Markovina
Church School Superintendant
St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church-Milwaukee, WI
 



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