The dilemma evoked on account of the Covid 19 pandemic, and the resultant restrictions imposed by the local authorities, the activities of Sunday school of the Vienna church, which was functioning systematically on all Sundays got affected severely. At the same time, the glitches faced by other Sunday schools of the Patriarchal Vicariate of Europe.
One of the prestigious events of the Vienna Sunday school was the Vacation Bible School (JSVBS), which was being conducted in August every year for the last 16 years with participation and cooperation of other sister churches in Vienna. In August 2020, since the pandemic was on its high intensity and due to strict restrictions imposed by the local bodies for gatherings, the Vienna church was forced to think of an alternative arrangement for the JSVBS and found the Zoom programme quite appropriate for conducting a “virtual JSVBS”. Accordingly, the JSVBS of 2020 was arranged virtually with participation of all Sunday schools of the Diocese on 6, 7, 8 August 2020. The blessings and advice of the Patriarchal Vicar, H.E. Dr. Mor Theophilose Kuriakose Metropolitan; active collaboration of all priests in the diocese, especially Rev. Fr. Joshy Vettikkattil, the hard work of Mr. Eldo Palpath, Headmaster of Vienna Sunday School and teamwork of all the teachers of Vienna Church, were behind the thumping success of the programme.
Lord Almighty gave wisdom to think of an online Sunday school programme from the lessons learned from the above virtual JSVBS and the evinced interest of children and their parents. After extensive discussions and thoughts, Rev. Fr. Joshy took the lead and convened a meeting of all priests and teachers on August 30, 2020, to get a first-hand report of the pros and cons of conducting a virtual, combined Sunday school of the Europe diocese. With the blessings of Thirumeni it was decided to start during the ensuing Sunday school year, i.e. September 2020-June 2021. Accordingly, H.E. Dr. Mor Theophilose Kuriakose Metropolitan blessed and inaugurated the Online Sunday School of Europe on September 6, 2020, using Zoom programme.
In the meeting of inauguration all priests and church representatives of the diocese, including potential teaching staff, who attended and expressed their opinion as well as various adjacent hitches. However, it was noticed by all the attendees that although the feasibility and practicability were not very encouraging, there were enormous benefits in such a programme so far as the children and the diocese are concerned.
In the beginning, varied problems i.e., interest of students, availability of dedicated staff, language barriers, etc. were pulling us back. Moreover, the available students were having varied levels of knowledge and experience in the Sunday school programme; only a few were regular attendees of Sunday schools due to paucity of opportunity. These were challenges in adopting the MJSSA syllabus, the pillar of the Malankara Sunday school movement. A preparatory retreat for the teachers led by H.E. Mor Thimothios Mathews Metropolitan was held on 12.09.2020 to get a spiritual empowerment and training.
Currently there are about 90 students from 12 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and The United Kingdom).
|Rev. Fr. Dr. Thomas Jacob (Germany)||Advisor|
|Rev. Fr. Joshy Vettikkattil (Austria)||Vice President|
|Rev. Fr. Nomis Pathiyil||Co-ordinator|
|Fr Paul P George||Class X|
|Fr Tijo Markose||Class X|
|Mercy Thalappillil Vienna||Class I|
|Sindhu Aebgin||Class I|
|Nancy Korah Vienna||Class I|
|Lissy Moncy Swiss||Class I|
|Shery Cherian Amsterdam||Class II|
|Sonia Markose||Class II|
|Claudia Ancheril||Class III|
|Arsha James||Class II|
|Jefi Sara Mani||Class IV|
|Vineeth Varghese||Class III, IV|
|Eldo Palpath Vienna||Class V, VI|
|Sudhish Mathew Frankfurt||Class IV, VI|
|Chev. Kuriakose Thadathil||Class V, VII|
|Rev. Fr. Joshy Vettikkattil (Vienna)||Vice President|
|Rev. Fr. Nomis Pathiyil (Malta)||Co-ordinator|
|Chev. Kuriakose Thadathil (Vienna)||Sunday School Director|
|Mr. Eldose Palpath (Vienna)||Sunday School Inspector|
|Mr. Jibin Kurien (Rome)||Staff Secretary|
|Mr. Shery Cherian (Amsterdam)||Technical Co-ordinator|
Accordingly, a teachers assignment chart was prepared by Rev. Fr. Joshy and decided to have three sessions from 2 to 3.30 p.m. For the sake of interest, the first session was devoted to a general assembly for prayer and practicing hymns. After the first session, students would be divided and assigned to each class for the subsequent sessions. At the end, there would be a benediction.
The system was evaluated after two weeks by teachers and parents together. All emerged concerns were considered and appropriately rectified to the maximum possible. By the Grace of God, a Sunday school year was successfully completed without any disruption. Students were encouraged with the syllabus and the classes. To motivate the talents of the students and to generate enthusiasm in parents two Talent Days, first one on 29 November 2020 and the second on 30 May 2021, have been successfully organized.
The mid-term examination was conducted in January 2021 and the annual examination in June 2021 very systematically. Thanks to students and teachers for their dedication to the programme.
As an added activity, the textbooks from class I to VII were translated into German language for MJSSA during the period under report. This was a notable achievement of the Sunday school; the credit goes to Rev. Fr. Joshy Vettikkattil and Mr. Sigi Dubiel for their untiring effort in successfully completing the translation and layout. On behalf of the Online Sunday School of Europe, I wish to record our sincere thanks to them for their incredible work.
It is to be reported with pleasure that by the Grace of God, the Online Sunday School of Europe is being functioned impressively, following MJSSA syllabus, under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Mor Theophilose Kuriakose, Patriarchal Vicar of the Middle Europe and with the guidance of Rev. Fr. Joshy Vettikkattil.
The success ought to be attributed to the support and collaboration of all reverend priests responsible for these countries. Needless to say, the cooperation of students was unparallel, the attention and devotion of parents were so inspiring, and the devotion of teachers was exemplary. Praise the Lord.