Nearly 300 years after the birth of Christ, there was a man named Basil who lived in the land of Cappadocia. He was well educated, smart, a talented writer and speaker – and he used all these gifts for the glory of God. He wrote a Divine Liturgy, which we use several times throughout the year. Saint Basil created many of the rules and guidelines for monastic community life that are still in use today. He also started the first charitable organizations – hospitals, orphanages, and hospice care. He helped those in need in any way possible.
The other day, I sat down at my computer to create a gift for my nephew, Basil, for his nameday. My intended gift quickly morphed before my eyes as my screen began to fill up with a story about our family’s connection with Saint Basil. A story unfolded about how our great-grandparents and Saint Basil’s grandparents spent time hiding in the Pontic Mountains during two different periods of severe Christian persecutions in the area. The story continued with our family’s enduring love for this great saint as revealed by the many men in our family being named after him. My little story, which unexpectedly came to life in the hush of a sleeping home, concluded with us – the current generations. What can we do in order to continue the work of Saint Basil today? In what ways can we learn about Saint Basil’s life and apply it to our own?
In my family, my brother (Basil’s dad) now works for Saint Basil Academy in New York. It is a place where those who work there strive to continue to follow in the footsteps of Saint Basil as they care for children (both Orthodox and non-Orthodox) who can no longer live with their parents, for one reason or another. It is a place where needs are met. It is a place where young ones can feel safe and begin the possibility of healing. It is a place of hope and support.
Donations and gifts can be mailed to:
Saint Basil Academy
79 St Basils Rd
Garrison, NY 10524
For myself, I am not able to move to New York and care for these children myself, as much as my heart yearns to do so. What can I possibly do from all the way over here in Missouri to help them?
I can write about the love and compassion of those who live and work at Saint Basil’s. I can let priests know that if they have families that are struggling with big issues that are impacting their children, then they can contact the staff at Saint Basil’s for advice or to see if the children of their parishioners would qualify to live there.
I can implore those of you reading this to send your children’s hand-me-downs to Saint Basil Academy for the children who live there.
I can ask you to consider donating $20 a month so that collectively we might enable Saint Basil’s to hire another staff member, which in turn allows them to take in 6 more abused or severely neglected children. (They are limited in how many children they take in because they are required to keep a certain ratio of staff to children.)
I could encourage you to take a look at Saint Basil’s wishlist for items they need and purchase one of them and send it to them.
Saint Basil Academy, which houses over 20 children and staff on location, operates predominantly on donations. The staff at Saint Basil Academy have dedicated their lives to helping these children have a safe place to live as well as aid in their healing process, but they need our support also to make it happen day after day and year after year.
The children in your life will be under warm blankets tonight in their rooms. Bellies full. Safe. What can we do to help, so that more children sleep safely tonight?
Saint Basil Academy in New York
“The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”
– Saint Basil the Great
This is a brief lesson I put together for 3rd – 6th grade about Saint Basil and the tradition of vasilopita.
I taped each page to one side of a file folder for the students to take home with them and keep as a short story about Saint Basil. I also baked mini loaves of vasilopita (which means “Basil’s bread) for each of my students to take one home with them in remembrance of Saint Basil on January 1st.