Father Sasha has been teaching the children at Dee Why School Scripture every Thursday morning for the past eight years.
Father Sasha commenced teaching Scripture in 2004 at which time; there were 36 Serbian children in the school, which comprised a thick density of the total number of students enrolled in the school.
Earlier this year Father Sasha was presented with an award from ICCOREIS (Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools-NSW) at Parliament House for recognition of his dedication to teaching Scripture to Orthodox children.
Today, for some children, was their final scripture lesson with Father Sasha, the children, said their prayers and sang "Oj Badnjace" as an item for the combined Scripture school assembly. The children were beaming with pride, given the prayers and song they had learnt with Father Sasha
Recently, when Father Sasha was unable to attend Scripture one morning last month, the proxy stepped in, she took the children for Scripture for the 45 minute session to avoid them being placed in non-scripture classes.
Their little faces were so disappointed that Father Sasha couldn't make it. One of the children said, "You know we love when Father Sasha comes." (Then, also quickly added), "We like you too, "but when Father Sasha comes we're really special 'cause, you know, he's the Pop"
As that particular morning was St Demetrius / Mitrovdan, I asked the class if anyone could tell me about Feast Days / Patron Saint's Days. The children quickly corrected me and said, "You mean Slava, because that's what it's called in Serbian, "Father Sasha said". The children were very thorough and detailed, with all their responses about Slava, the traditions, the spiritual / religious importance, family connections and what was needed to celebrate Slava.
However, what continually flowed through was that every response throughout that 45min session commenced with "Father Sasha said", or "Otac Sasha told us, or Pop Sasha said"
We continued our Scripture lesson and together we read the Bible story of one of the miracles that Jesus Christ performed, when Jesus feed five thousand people with two fishes and five loaves of bread.
After we read the story, one of the children raised his hand quickly, and inquired directly, "Are you sure this is our religion and are you sure you're Serbian?" "Cause I've never heard this story before!" And, "I'm going to tell Father Sasha next week about this story you read!"
I assured the children, that this indeed was a story from the Bible. However, I was quite bemused of the "dobbing me in" threat to Father Sasha.
Overall, the reality is, Father Sasha may think he simply comes once a week for a 45 minute Scripture class and it's no big deal. But the truth of the matter is, the 45 minute lesson Father Sasha has with the children, leaves a lasting impact on them, as sadly, some of the children seldom attend church, whilst for others it may be the only foundation and path to our faith. What is also prevalent, is how much the children love and adore their Father Sasha and the positive impact he has on the children is priceless.