Ancient Faith Speaker Series


St. Raphael School has partnered with Ancient Faith Ministries to bring you an exciting year of authors and speakers!

Each session will be hosted via live, Zoom video conferencing. Please come ready to experience an intimate conversation with our hosts – without leaving your home! Be sure you have a strong WiFi connection, have a working video camera and audio. The sessions will be live, in real time; not a pre-recorded webinar. Visit the Classroom Technology section of our Student-Parent Handbook page for more tech specifics.

Please join us to listen to, engage with and enjoy the company of like-minded friends!
All sessions will be recorded; these recordings will be provided to interested viewers ongoing.

These events are open to the public and free of charge! Register for login information.

Don’t just look for good culture. Go make it!

Dn. Nicholas Kotar

  • Date: Monday, May 4, 2020
  • Sign up to watch the video recording by clicking below.
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Summary of Session:

What is the purpose of a Christian life? We get asked this question all the time. And there are so many answers that it can get bewildering. But what if the answer was something we never considered at all? What if the purpose of a Christian life was to create Christian culture?
That’s exactly what Russian writer and philosopher Ivan Ilyin thought. And He didn’t mince his words: 
“The Gospel teaches not flight from the world, but the Christianization of the world.  Thus, the sciences, the arts, politics, and the social order can all be those spiritual hands with which the Christian takes the world.  And the calling of a Christian is not to chop off those hands, but to imbue their work and toil with the living spirit of Christ.  Christianity has a great calling, which many do not ever realize.  This purpose can be defined as the creation of a Christian culture.”
In this lecture, we will break down Ilyin’s handbook for the creation of Christian culture in a post-Christian world. Not only will you come away with a renewed appreciation for the role of art and culture in your life, but hopefully you will be inspired to go and create something beautiful yourself!

Dn. Nicholas Kotar: I come from a family of Russian immigrants who moved from Russia after the Revolution, and I grew up in what was essentially a Russian ghetto in San Francisco. I spoke Russian before I spoke English.

My sister and I were homeschooled until a bright and sunny day when my mom had had enough of cat-herding. So she decided to open a school (thinking it would be less of a hassle, I suppose?), which she and my dad then administered for the next twenty years of their life (without taking a penny for it). This school, St. John of San Francisco Orthodox Academy, is a shining light of classical education in the Orthodox Christian community.

After graduating from UC Berkeley (yes, I studied Russian Literature, how did you guess?), I came back to teach in St. John’s for seven years. Those years were formative for me and for many of the teachers, because of the talent of the faculty. There were poets, philosophers, politicians, and musicians among my colleagues, and our regular tea-fueled conversations by the fireplace had something of the Inklings about them.

Caring for Health as a Spiritual Discipline

Rita Madden

  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020
  • Sign up to watch the video recording by clicking below.
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Summary of Session:

Examining how the Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition provides the guidance we need to aid us in caring for everyday health. Teachings will be shared from the Holy Fathers, Saints and modern-day spiritual fathers and mothers melded with established science to highlight:

  • What foods did God intend for us to eat?
  • What should our relationship with food look like?
  • Self-care and how exercise and stress management should be a daily part of life and how to do this with putting our faith first.
  • How all the areas mentioned above tie together to help us fast healthfully.

Goal of Session: The participant will walk away with practical and applicable tips utilizing the Holy Orthodox Tradition as their guide to care for their personal health and the health of their children.

Rita Madden, MPH, RDN:

Rita Madden MPH, RDN, author of Food Faith and Fasting: A Sacred Journey to Better Health and the host for this podcast—featured on Ancient Faith Radio, has over 19 years of experience in the nutrition and wellness field.

She is always amazed how the Eastern Orthodox Faith outlines a sound prescription for overall health, and conducts workshops on this subject matter.

She is the Co-Founder and Program Director for the For-Purpose Organization Moon Gardens; a company that teaches sustainable approaches to health and wellness all the while allowing one to celebrate their culture and traditions.

Her current areas of focus include: being the Nutrition Director of the company Mediterranean Wellness, leading training sessions for physicians as well as other health-care professionals and conducting Wellness Workshops for a variety of audiences nationally and internationally.

Rita is passionate about this subject matter and is devoted to helping people form a healthy relationship with food and wellness.

To find out more about her speaking engagements please contact her via phone at 808.754.8741 or through her website:

“They Shall All Know Me”: Seven Best Practices for Therapeutic Homeschools

Summer Kinard

  • Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2020
  • Sign up to watch the video recording by clicking below.
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Summary of Session:

Whether you’re an established homeschooler or just beginning, teaching children with disabilities requires shifts in strategies, teaching spaces, and priorities. This interactive talk will help you set expectations and rethink the scope of your teaching so that all children can thrive in your homeschool and grow in knowledge of Christ. You will come away with tools to evaluate your child’s goals and progress as well as practical tips for simple changes that allow your child’s strengths to emerge.

Summer Kinard:

Summer Kinard is the author of Of Such is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability. As an autistic mother rearing and homeschooling autistic children in the Faith, Summer knows firsthand many of the gifts and challenges of life with disabilities. She brings her extensive background in patristic theology and catechesis (B.A. in religion, M.Div., Th.M. in early church history and theology) to skillfully weave together the healing patterns of Holy Tradition with the daily patterns of life with disabilities. Summer has become acquainted with hundreds of Orthodox families with disabilities through sharing on her website ( the resources she has developed to make faith accessible to them. At a time when at least twenty percent of people live with disabilities and two percent are autistic, there is an urgent need to apply Church teachings to questions about the care and inclusion of persons with disabilities as full members of Christ’s Body and full participants in learning environments. Summer brings the grace, kindness, and insight of an experienced teacher and mother to begin answering those questions. An engaging speaker and dynamic workshop leader, Summer shares her hard-won wisdom with her audience, walking with them through the narrow places of community life with disabilities. Summer Kinard is an Antiochian Orthodox Christian in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. She lives with her husband, Andrew, and their five children in Texas.

Lessons from the Womb: What Childbearing Says About Lifelong Growth

Laura S. Jansson


  • Date: Dec. 6, 2019
  • Sign up to watch the video recording by clicking below.
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Session Summary:

Growth is a thread running through every aspect of our lives – as parents, as home educators, and as Christians. But what can we do to foster the growth we seek? In this talk, Orthodox doula, mother of four and former home educator Laura Jansson presents the experience of childbearing as a universal model for human growth. Pregnancy and birth take us on a journey of growth which has an obvious physical aspect – the growth of our bellies as the day of birth approaches. But this physical expansion is not just functional; it is in fact an icon or image of the growth that happens within our hearts as we are shaped into the people we will need to be. In this way, the experience of pregnancy teaches us not only how to become parents but also how to grow as people, whether we are parents or not. Laura presents the five lessons childbearing has taught her about how humans grow, but it might surprise you to learn that these lessons are not just for mothers. They’re for anyone wanting to discern the deep meaning that childbearing has in the world.

Laura S. Jansson is an Orthodox Christian doula, childbirth educator, and mother living and writing at the intersection of birth and faith. She earned her Masters degree in Theology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford, UK, and has also resided in the USA, Serbia, Germany, and Fiji. Since 2005 she has guided scores of expectant mothers on the path to parenthood, witnessing with wonder as bellies and souls grow along the way.

Related resources from host:

Fertile Ground: a Pilgrimage Through Pregnancy



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