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OCMC News - Children in Lodwar Kenya Soon to Have a New School

by Orthodox Christian Mission Center (Posted 11/29/2011)

OCMC News - Children in Lodwar Kenya Soon to Have a New School
Rev. Fr. E. Anthony Tomaras (right) presents the initial installment of his donation to fund the building of school facilities through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center in the Turkana region of Kenya in memory of the late Presvytera Dr. Sophronia Tomaras to Mr. Clifford Argue, Past President of the OCMC Board of Directors.

We thank God for the stewardship and generosity of retired Greek Orthodox priest Fr. E. Anthony Tomaras of Gig Harbor, WA to the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), the children of the town of Lodwar in the Turkana region of Kenya will soon have a real school facility in which to learn. The complex is being named for his beloved Presvytera Dr. Sophronia Tomaras, of blessed memory.

The project will include six separate classrooms for 30 students each, an office, kitchen, restrooms, and storage, as well as an area for religious services. The school will be under the auspices of the Orthodox Church through local clergy, one of whom is studying early education at the Masters level in the country’s capital of Nairobi. The school will be an academy which will provide an Orthodox focused education that will be an improvement over that offered by surrounding public schools.

The Turkana region in the far northwest of Kenya is a semi-arid desert with little infrastructure. Life is harsh for the people who are beginning to transition from a nomadic lifestyle.

Orthodoxy is new to the area, growing rapidly, and being embraced with enthusiasm. There are many non-Christians in the region, and Orthodox clergy, both native and from the U.S. through OCMC, have been performing mass baptisms and extensive catechetical instruction.

Along with the main facility in Lodwar, Fr. Anthony’s donation will fund two smaller classrooms in a remote village that is newly converting to Orthodoxy. Currently the children meet for instruction under a large tree, but miss many days because of the blistering heat and harsh elements.

Presvytera Tomaras devoted her life to education, both secular and religious. A native of Chicago, she graduated from the Koraes Greek-American Parochial School of Sts. Constantine and Helen Church and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago at the age of 18. She later received Bachelor and Masters degrees in Education from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA and her PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle.

After marrying seminarian E. Anthony Tomaras and his ordination, Presvytera moved with him for periods in Greece and Oakland, CA, before being assigned to St. Nicholas Church in Tacoma where they spent almost twenty years. After that assignment, they founded and served St. Nectarios Mission Church in Pasco, WA where they traveled twice a month. They also helped acquire and then managed All Saints Camp and Retreat Center on Raft Island near Gig Harbor until 1990.

Presvytera's professional career was at the Tacoma Public Schools. For 26 years she was an elementary teacher, a research assistant, a senior editor of the district's curriculum tests and a director in staff development for the Office of Research and Evaluation, retiring in 1989.

In the church, Presvytera taught Sunday School and held icon painting classes for children and adults. For many years, she served as Chair of the Diocese of San Francisco Religious Education Commission, and as a member of the Archdiocesan National Curriculum Committee authoring two books used in elementary grades, as well as the Department of Religious Education’s annual Planbook and Lectionary for Teachers. She also translated over 80 Orthodox hymns into English and published them in a widely used hymnal.

In addition to Fr. Anthony, Presvytera Sophronia’s family includes son Charles Tomaras, daughter Presvytera Irene Supica (Fr. Stephen), and granddaughters Sophronia and Elizabeth Supica.

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God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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