Six months ago, we launched an Orthodox children's movement called "Little Falcons". Its members are children from the monastic school Ichthys and the local community, their parents and teachers. Father Andrey Lemeshonok inaugurated the movement by serving a Moleben at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God "Inexhaustible Chalice" at the monastic farmstead for disadvantaged men. We asked its activists about the movement's objectives and progress to date.
Many people today live by the values of the secular world. They live for personal and material success, comfort and convenience. They compete with others and strive to maximise their competitive advantage. Their world typically leaves no room for God, eternity and sanctity, self-sacrifice or loving one's neighbour. Most people know of no other life and see no alternative to it. Yet, living by its laws, many find that they are missing something important. They want happiness but have only pleasure. They aim for excellence but have to settle for mediocrity. They desire closeness but have to be content with casual companionships.
But we can improve our lives fundamentally if we can reorder our values around God and His infinite love. It is best to start doing so from an early age. The movement "Little Falcons" are doing exactly this. It reconstructs the atmosphere of a Christian community and creates the experience of living in it. The founder of the movement, Nun Rebecca (Pereira) explains: "We bring together children and young people who are interested in living according to their faith. We appreciate the importance of approaching every task and aspect of our lives from a Christian perspective. Today, our movement unites forty children and fifteen adults. We also have volunteers who are helping us."
"Our first major activity was the summer camp," continued Nun Rebecca. "We worked model our life on that of a Christian community where everyone is a servant of another. We remember fondly all the things we did together to this end - the interactive games, sports, liturgies, Akathists, and processions of the cross; the riding sessions, outdoor conversations, bible circle meetings and popular science classes with Priest Oleg Kovalenko; our morning exercises, evening bonfires, daily chores and walking trips. We recall all of these with great joy."
The counsellor of the Ichthys school, Julia Gadjamura, adds, "As adults, we have a responsibility to show our children the way to live righteous lives in the Lord. But our world is full of distractions. We cannot isolate our children from all of them, but what we can do, is give them the joy of healthy relationships." To gauge the children's views, we asked them about the highlights of their summer and their most valuable lessons. For Thecla, 14, being a part of a Christian family was her most memorable experience. "Each new sunrise brought new joys, and every sunset the anticipation of the new adventures to come," says Thecla. To Mikhail, 9, his greatest achievement was becoming more independent.
After the camp's closure, the members of the movement met together to take stock of the progress made and review the highlights of the summer. The meeting programme included an award ceremony to acknowledge the help of the children and volunteers in running the camp and performing multiple tasks from cleaning to cooking and masterclasses. Prizes were also awarded to winners of the drawing and essay contest among the children.
"We have made a point of coming to every meeting of the movement as a family," concludes Alena Khalipskaya, mother of one of the children. "To our child, the movement is a valuable experience in building rewarding relationships, learning healthy social skills and acquiring good habits of work and prayer. It was a time filled with happy moments of real life, the hiking trips, the bonfires, the shared food and wet feet."
"I was pleased to be a part of this exciting and useful project," said Father Oleg Kovalenko, a member of the Convent's clergy. "We hope that the great effort and contribution of the parents, teachers and children will bear abundant fruit Let us continue to work and pray together, and may our efforts be rewarded with new and exciting achievements."
Recorded by Darya Goncharova
From 17 to 26 September, Saint Elisabeth Convent takes part in the online festival of Orthodox artists, blessed and supported by His Eminence Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Nikitas and the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Mission Abroad.