Archbishop Kaplan Blesses the Sunday School Retreat
Tuesday, December 11, 2007 -
On Saturday, October 20th, the first Sunday School Teachers retreat was held at St. Mary’s Church of Orange County. The theme of the retreat was “Teaching our Young the Path of Syriac Orthodoxy.” The retreat was presided by His Eminence Archbishop Mor C. Eugene Kaplan, Rev. Fr. Louis Yacoub, Rev. Fr. George Touma, and Rev. Fr. Fadi Yousif. Mrs. Patricia Allaf, director of the Diocese Sunday School Program and organizer of the retreat, along with fifteen teachers representing the various churches of the Diocese participated in this instrumental event. The first session of the retreat entitled “The Identity of the Syriac Orthodox Child” focused on interpreting the various aspects of Christianity, Orthodoxy, the importance of our Syriac forefathers, and the foundations of the Syriac church. A PowerPoint Presentation led by His Eminence and Mrs. Patricia Allaf explained how the Syriac faith and doctrine is found in our scriptures, the writings of our Church Fathers, and the Canon and decree of the Councils. Further discussion focused on the forms of worship, the liturgy, how the Church uses Syriac as its liturgical language & the fact that many people still speak this language today as their mother tongue. Mrs. Patricia Allaf illustrated the numerous ways the Syriac Orthodox faith can be expressed in Sunday School classrooms. His Eminence and the respective clergy led the group in prayers followed by a lunch for all attendees, which was hosted by St. Mary’s Church. The second session entitled “An Introduction to the Syriac Orthodox Divine Liturgy” focused on the translations and interpretations of the Divine Liturgy. The symbolism of the various church vessels was explained by His Eminence Mor C. Eugene Kaplan and Rev. Fr. George Touma. A PowerPoint was presented during this session with a question and answer period following afterwards. His Eminence, the clergy, and the teachers enjoyed informative conversations about the importance of the work of Sunday School teachers, the need to reach all our children, and keeping our Syriac Orthodox culture and faith a part of today's world. The Teachers Retreat serves to provide on-going training, inspiration, and encouragement to Diocese Sunday School teachers. The next Teachers Retreat is scheduled during the month of January and will focus on ‘The Interpretation of the Syriac Orthodox Divine Liturgy.’ The Diocese looks forward to future events in order to strengthen the Sunday School Programs through hands-on demonstrations, lectures, and discussions of Orthodox Christian faith.