Presvytera Alexandra Houck created The Children's Word bulletin so children will know they are not only welcome in church, but even more, an essential part of the Church family. She hopes the weekly bulletin will be just one more way we can make kids feel at home in church. Presvytera Alexandra is a graduate of Duke University and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Her husband, Fr. Jason Houck, is a priest at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, MN. Presvytera Alexandra and Fr. Jason have five small children: Lydia, Paul, Silas, Philip, and Sarah. Presvytera Alexandra grew up attending Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Asheville, North Carolina with her nine siblings.
Can you think about a time you did something really wrong? Maybe you thought you would get in really big trouble for it. Maybe you really felt sorry about it, and you wished you hadn’t done it.
In today’s Gospel reading, we read the story of the Prodigal Son. Remember, this young man had done some wrong things too. His father gave him lots of money, and this young man took it and spent it all! And he didn’t just spend it…he wasted it on all kinds of bad stuff. He was really living an awful life. But still, after all that time, he decided to go back home.
This young man felt sorry about the things he had done, and he wished he hadn’t done them. He thought he would get in really big trouble for it. The Gospel tells us that on the way back home, he was thinking about how he was going to tell his father how sorry he was.
But what happened next? The father forgave his son, and he welcomed him back with lots of joy.
Sometimes, you might do the wrong thing at home. Maybe your parents are angry with you, and sometimes you might get in trouble. But they still love you, and they want you to turn around and change. That’s the same way our Lord is too. God always loves us, even when we do wrong things. And He is always full of joy when we turn back to Him!
The Saint from Brooklyn: Saint Raphael
Have you ever been to New York City? Did you know we have an American saint from Brooklyn?
St. Raphael was born in Lebanon, and when he became a priest, the tsar in Russia sent him to America to take care of the Orthodox here. In 1904, St. Raphael became the very first person to become a bishop in America.
As a bishop, St. Raphael worked hard to serve the Church. He started 30 Orthodox churches here! He opened the cathedral in New York called St. Nicholas Cathedral. He also helped start a monastery in Pennsylvania—St. Tikhon’s Monastery.
Now, when you travel throughout America, you can always find an Orthodox church to visit. But when St. Raphael lived in this country, that wasn’t true! He traveled all the way across the country and visited 30 different cities between New York and San Francisco, California. Many of the Orthodox people living in this country did not have a church to go to. He baptized lots of people, married them, and served Liturgy wherever he went.
We remember St. Raphael of Brooklyn because he did so much to start the Orthodox Church here in America.
We celebrate St. Raphael on Wednesday, Feb. 27th (March 12th, OC).
Welcome to “The Children’s Word,” a weekly ministry of the Orthodox Christian Network. Each week, Presvytera Alexandra Houck writes this little newsletter for young parishioners! You will find age-appropriate articles, stories, and activities in every edition. The newsletter is provided in PDF format so that you can easily download and print it, and share it with your parish, church school, homeschool, family, and friends.
Each issue includes a message on the Sunday Gospel lesson and on one of the saints for the week. You’ll also find a coloring page and other activities. It is designed for a 8.5 x 14 page, so it can be printed and folded.
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