Sts Mary of Egypt and Lazarus Essay Contest

Hellenic Orthodox Traditionalist Church of America

March, 2009

To the Distinguished Clergy and Catechists of this Metropolis, Your Blessings,

The National Committee of Spiritual Education has developed a second project/essay contest to commemorate St. Mary of Egypt and St. Lazarus. We created this project as a method of getting the youth of our Metropolis engaged in activities above and beyond their daily routines. With your cooperation, we can make this activity very successful and spiritually nourishing for everyone.

We chose St. Mary of Egypt for the Middle School, High School, and College levels this time for a couple reasons. The first being it is a great theme to focus on in the course of the Great Lent. While the youth are fasting and preparing themselves for Pascha, learning about St. Mary of Egypt and the significance of repentance and purity will tie together the essence of what being an Orthodox Christian means. Secondly it will raise awareness to maintaining purity, not only in action, but in thought as well. For the Elementary School level, we chose the theme of St. Lazarus. This also ties in with the Great Lent theme, and it will be easier to work with rather than St. Mary for this age group.

Again, to reward their efforts, we’re offering a small grant from the NCSED of $100 to the winning entry for each level. If your parish does not own a copy of the life of St. Mary of Egypt, a great link to use is The deadline for all entries is the Friday after Pascha, April 24, 2009.

In conjunction to the festivities, we respectfully request the encouragement of the youth preparing for and receiving Holy Communion on those Sundays, March 29/16, and April 4 /March 22 (with the O.C.)

We would like to document these festivities throughout our Metropolis. Please appoint someone within your Parish to take plenty of pictures and videos for our documentary, as this is one of the most important parts of the project.

Below are the project suggestions for each level. As the Priest and Youth Advisors/Catechists of this Parish, we welcome your creativity. Please feel free to adjust the activities/questions as you see fit. Each level should have a discussion on either the story of St. Mary, the topic of purity, or St. Lazarus in the weeks prior to the feast days, March 29/16, and April 4/March 22.

Elementary Level, Grades 2-6

We suggest a project that includes compiling a book of the life of St. Lazarus. Read the story to the students and follow up with a discussion about the material. Some suggested questions are:
- Why do you think Christ wept when He found out Lazarus died?
- Why do you think Christ resurrected Lazarus?
- What does the story of St. Lazarus teach us?

After discussing the material, have each student draw out a scene from St. Lazarus’ life and write out what’s happening in their drawing. Then, put together all the drawings in chronological order and staple them together in a book format with a proper cover. This will be the entry to the contest. Please submit either the original book or color copies with a high quality resolution.

In addition to presenting their material to the parishioners on the feast day of St. Lazarus, we suggest they either learn or become familiar with how to read and say his Troparion or Kontakion as a presentation during the coffee session.

Middle/early High School level, Grades 7-10

We suggest creating a brochure on purity. This is following a similar format to an advertising brochure trying to sell a product to a target audience. In this case, the target audience is the youth. They can use clippings from magazines, ‘clip art’ from the computer, photos, or anything else they choose to use. The theme should be purity not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well. The size of the brochure should be no larger than a standard sheet of paper. They can either fold it in half or into three sections. Please have each participant create their own brochure and submit the originals. (If you want to keep the originals, please make sure to submit a color copy with a high quality resolution.)

Upper High School/College level, Grades 11 and up

We suggest creating a Public Service Announcement, or PSA on purity. A PSA is similar to a commercial. It conveys a visual message to a target audience using pictures, animated clips, etc. This can be done as a PowerPoint presentation, or on any other similar program. Students can incorporate home made video clips, animations found on the internet (as long as it is properly cited at the end,) or anything else they come up with. It should be no less than 10 slides. Please submit an electronic copy by the due date.

Some questions to ask during the discussion pertaining to the story of St. Mary of Egypt could be:
- Why do you think St. Mary decided to enter the temple?
- What message did Panagia convey by not allowing her to enter?
- What message did Panagia convey by allowing her to enter?
- Why do you think St. Mary went all the way into the desert to begin repenting?
- Why do you think St. Mary spent over 40 years in the desert?
- How do we repent? How do we show God we have repented?
- What does it mean to be pure in thought?
- How can we set an example of purity to others?
- What can we do to further purify ourselves?

Please set aside as many sessions as you think are necessary to complete the above projects. Usually two are customary, but feel free to use your judgment.

In conclusion, we sincerely thank you for your Parish’s participation in the second Metropolis-wide St. Mary of Egypt and St. Lazarus Feast Day Project contest. If you have any questions regarding any aspect of this project, please contact either Leonidas Pittos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 708.717.0842 or Despina Avgoustis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 734.516.1659.

We wish you the greatest success in our second ever Diocesan youth endeavor.

With Kindest Regards,

The National Committee of Spiritual Education and Development

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