Wichita, KAN. – Over the years, the Orthodox Christian community of Wichita has initiated a variety of independent efforts to promote the faith, strengthen the faithful, and minister to need in the city. In recent months, His Grace Bishop BASIL, together with local clergy and laity, have begun to envision how these various ministries might be integrated into a holistic Orthodox presence in Wichita. At the heart of this vision is the creation of an Orthodox Classical School.
Such a school would be an essential aspect of full Orthodox life in the community. Wichita is already home to a variety of important Orthodox institutions, such as the diocesan Cathedral and Chancery, three parishes, the Farrah Foundation, The Treehouse social service agency, and world-renowned Eighth Day Bookstore. Recently, Metropolitan Phillip gave his blessing for the creation of a monastery just outside of the city.
Even more recently, Wichita made headlines in Orthodox circles with the appointment of Bishop BASIL as Secretary of the newly-created Orthodox Episcopal Assembly. The offices of the Secretariat will be headquartered in Wichita.
An Orthodox Classical School would complete the picture of Orthodox life in the city. “We’re Orthodox,” +Bishop BASIL said in a recent interview. “We have something that’s true. We have something precious to offer that’s different than every other school.”
“Orthodoxy in Wichita has the ability to touch so many people with our social service work, authentic monasticism, and vibrant intellectual culture exemplified by Eighth Day Books and St. John the Damascus Institute. We have the opportunity here to be a model for what American Orthodoxy can be,” Father Paul O’Callaghan, Dean of St. George Orthodox Cathedral, said. “But, without a school, our community is like a three-legged chair. It’s time we serve our children and have an outreach for non-Orthodox children in the area.”
“Our children are our most precious gems,” His Grace said. “I don’t know why anybody would want to entrust them to anybody except others who are of like mind – in spirit and belief, in morals and ethics – somebody who you know you can say ‘Amen’ to everything they’re going to teach your children.”
When the St. George Cathedral facilities were expanded fifteen years ago, they were designed with a parish school in mind. Unfortunately, however, the facility stands empty six days of the week.
+Bishop BASIL recently toured the classrooms. “It breaks my heart,” Bishop BASIL said of the empty classrooms. “This is to be a school. God blessed us to have this facility. He blessed us to have these classrooms. I think we ought to let Him to do with them what He wants to do with them.”
With the Bishop’s blessing, a steering committee has been established to pursue the founding of an Orthodox Classical School at St. George Cathedral. The committee leaders will present a strategic plan for the school by January 2011.
To learn more about the Orthodox Classical School project in Wichita, visit www.YouTube.com. Search for “The Case for an Orthodox Classical School in Wichita.”