Greek Education in Canada
By Metropolitan Sotirios
The Greek language was universal in ancient times. It was and still is the language of science, technology and culture. In all languages, many words used in science and technology are Greek. The root of many words in various languages spoken in the world is of Greek origin. The New Testament – the Bible announcing the “good news” of our salvation in Jesus Christ – was written in the Greek language. The Eastern Church Fathers all wrote their theological treatises in Greek.
Considering these facts, one can understand the importance of the Greek language and how much it has influenced the world. It should also be clear that we should not spare any effort, time and resources to not only preserve, but to also transmit and spread the use of the Greek language in the world.
The Greek language is taught at several Canadian universities, but also in several high schools. Our Holy Metropolis and some Greek Communities have wonderful Greek Orthodox Schools that operate on a daily basis. All our Communities across Canada have Greek schools that operate either on weekday afternoons or on Saturday mornings.
Do all the children of Greek origin study Greek in these schools? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Is the Greek language spoken in all homes where the parents are of Greek origin? Again the answer is no. What is the reason? What needs to be corrected? What needs to be done?
The Greek Orthodox Communities in Canada, as well as Greek associations across the country, must make an even greater effort to teach and to transmit the Greek language and the Greek Orthodox faith to our children and youth. It is important to note that these efforts must begin at home. Parents need to understand that their children will identify as Greeks and Greek-Canadians only when they know the Greek language and live their Orthodox faith.
Making this determination, parents should make every effort to do the following. They should speak the Greek language with each other and with their children at home. They should live and apply the teachings and traditions of our Greek Orthodox faith at home, at church, and outside the home in society. They should enroll their children in the Greek schools that operate either daily, in the afternoons or on Saturdays. They should also enroll their children in the Orthodox Religious Education programs of our Communities that operate on Sundays or on weekdays in our Communities. They should not only enroll them, but they should also monitor and ensure that their children attend and are applying themselves to learning the lessons taught in these schools. They should properly evaluate whether to give priority to signing up their children in sports and other programs that may consume their spare time, or to their education and training in the Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodox faith.
There is no doubt that we must make an even greater effort to ensure the success of our Greek Schools and our Sunday Schools in our Communities across Canada. Our Community leaders and our Teachers must make an even greater effort to establish more Greek schools that operate daily, in the afternoons and on Saturday mornings. Most importantly, they must ensure that the schools that are now operating are doing so in the best possible manner that they can, in order to achieve the desired results.
I express to all our Communities, and to all who operate and who teach in our Greek and Sunday schools, my immense gratitude. I especially thank the founders and the benefactors of our Greek and Sunday schools. I also thank the Community Councils and our Clergy who take the time to organize and to promote our Greek and Sunday schools. I thank the teachers who teach in our Greek and our Sunday schools, often times facing many challenges and problems. I thank the parents of our children for their interest in our Greek Orthodox education and for their passion in wishing to transmit our Greek language, culture and Orthodox Christian faith to their children. I praise and glorify the thrice- Holy, Triune God, for He has blessed us to live in this blessed country of Canada, where we have the freedom and the many benefits and resources – both spiritual and material – to succeed and make progress continuously. I convey to all the Grace and the Blessings of God and urge everyone to make even greater efforts towards the implementation and success of our Greek language and our Greek Orthodox religious education programs in all our Communities across Canada for the benefit of our children and our youth.
With fatherly love and blessings,
METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOP SOTIRIOS OF TORONTO