This Lenten season, every student in our church school received their own Pascha Passport. These were made available to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver parishes through Saint Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Loveland, Colorado. We were fortunate enough to be attending a parish in the Denver metropolis during this past school year and were able to participate in this exciting journey! I’d like to share with you just how much we have enjoyed this resource this Lenten season.
“This passport begins a passage, a pilgrimage within your own heart as you pursue God at this special time. We invite you to participate in the day trips, special services, special destinations, and lenten liturgies included in this passport. They are all designed to draw you the final destination of Lent: Pascha – Christ’s Resurrection”
Each of my four children received their passport just before the beginning of Great Lent. That Sunday evening, we spent most of the night pouring over the pages of our passports and filling in our information. My children were looking forward to keeping track of the services they attended and also the time we spent as a family preparing for Pascha. As soon as I said, “Time to get ready for bed…” – they were quick to respond with, “We need to put our check marks in our passports!” I found that the passports helped hold me accountable to our family Lenten pilgrimage to Pascha through my children. They wanted to see their little books filled with the steps we took along this journey together and were not about to let me take a break from it or forget about it.
We brought our passports with us to all the services we attended (Sunday – Saturday). Stickers were kept on a table in the narthex and easily accessible for the parents to help their kids put a sticker in the appropriate spot for the weekday and Saturday services. On Sundays, the children would bring their passports to class with them and the teachers would talk about it with their students. I loved seeing my little Kindergartners come into class, sit on the carpet, and excitedly cradle their passports in their hands waiting for me to give them their sticker. I think the kids really thrived off of seeing where we were in Lent based on how many stickers they saw slowly collecting in their books. For those children who attended few or no services during the week, they could still see the progression towards Pascha through their stickers collecting on the “Sundays of Great Lent” page. Some of the parents of my students told me that their children were explaining to them about the passports and asking their parents to pray with them, read them a story from the Bible, and bring money for our OCMC boxes.
This was such a fantastic tool to connect the parish and families. It was used in the church school classroom and then brought home to continue to be used by the parents and their children. I love these types of resources because our children are shown the connection between living our Orthodox faith on Sundays and living our Orthodox faith everyday in our home as well.
These passports can be ordered through Saint Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church by contacting Fr. Evan Armatas. They hope to have a page up on their website soon about the passports along with the supplemental materials – travel posters, Lenten map, and postcards for the U.S. mail. I highly recommend purchasing these for your church school or family for next year!