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Christian Education Staff and Volunteers


Carole A. Buleza, Director; (717) 747-5221;
Carole was appointed to the position of Director of the Department of Christian Education for the Antiochian Archdiocese in January 2000. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Religion, with a specialty in Religious Education. She was one of the first to see the value of the internet and in 2004 produced the Antiochian Gospel Program “Let Us Attend,” now in its 13th year. The sphere of social media ministry is presently being nurtured by the Department.  Along with the assistance of her staff, Carole began the Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education in the Faith in 2001. She has also conducted mini-Institutes around the Archdiocese. As Chair of the OCEC Curriculum Department from 2001-2005, Carole served as the project director and primary author of the high school text “The Way, The Truth & The Life.” While also in that position, she established the Training Department and wrote modules to standardize basic training for teachers. “Educating Ourselves and Our Children in Godliness” has provided hundreds of teachers throughout North America with the resources and training for success in the church school classroom. As Carole continues to serve the Archdiocese she looks forward to the challenge of providing an entirely new curriculum in the near future.

Rosemary Shumski, Admin. Assistant; (717) 747-5221;
Rosemary Shumski has held the position of Administrative Assistant for the Department of Christian Education for the past sixteen years. She is a graduate of Bloomsburg University and was previously employed as a retail store manager. She is the mother of three grown children and the wife of Deacon John Shumski, who is attached to St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in York, Pennsylvania. On the parish level, Rosemary bakes prosphora, has taught the preschool Sunday school class for sixteen years, and is a past member of parish council. She has served as the Photography Coordinator for the Eastern Dioceses since 2002. In addition to her other job duties, Rosemary is the Departmental Assistant for the Creative Festivals and is responsible for coordinating the Festivals on the Archdiocesan level.

Leslie Atherholt, Staff Assistant; (717) 747-5221
Leslie Atherholt works part time for the Department of Christian Education and assists with special projects, including trainings and the Department’s presence at Parish Life Conferences. She also manages content for the Department website and facebook page. Leslie graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in advertising. She is a member of St. John Chrysostom Church in York, PA. She is the wife of Deacon Jerome Atherholt, and together, they are former JOY and SOYO leaders. Leslie spent 19 years homeschooling her three children.

Kristina Wenger, Internet Ministries;
Kristina Wenger has her M.Ed. in Elementary Education. She has taught first grade, homeschooled her children and worked together with her husband, Timm, to found the educational organization Kids and Cultures. Kristina works part time for the Department, managing social media ministries: Orthodox Christian Parenting and Sunday Church School Teachers Facebook pages and blog sites, and the AODCE pinterest account. She works part time as a professional storyteller for Kids and Cultures, as well. Kristina volunteers at the local public library and in two public schools. Previously, she has written a VCS curriculum for the Department, and presented at the Orthodox Institute. Additionally, she and her husband provide the Department’s weekly Gospel podcast “Let Us Attend,” which can be heard on Ancient Faith Radio. In her free time, Kristina enjoys being with her family, reading, crafting and hiking. Kristina, Timm and their two children are members of St. John Chrysostom Church, York, PA.

Please contact the Diocesan Coordinators for updates on training activities and other events in your region.

Charleston, Oakland, Pennsylvania & the East;
New York and Washington D.C. 
V. Rev. George Alberts; (203) 798-1771;
Father George, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, has been involved in Orthodox Christian Education for over 35 years. Ordained to the priesthood in 1973, he also studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Pine Rest Mental Health Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI, and has taught sociology at the community college level. Fr. George has served as a pastor in Michigan and Pennsylvania and is currently the pastor of St. George Church in Danbury, Connecticut. In addition, he holds the positions of Recording Secretary of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission, and Christian Education Coordinator for both the Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C., and the Diocese of Oakland, PA and the East.

Toledo and the Midwest
Robert Snyder; (330) 285-3688;
Robert is the Religious Education Coordinator for the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, a position he has held for the last twenty years. He has been actively engaged in Christian education for the last thirty years as a High School teacher, a teen youth advisor, and, currently, as an instructor in Adult Christian Education. During this time, Robert has conducted many Christian Education workshops, and written numerous articles on Christian Education for The Word and the OCEC Christian Education newsletter. Bob authored the high school curriculum “Celebrations-Feasts and Holy Days.: He is known in his parish of St. George, Akron, Ohio, for his work as a highly successful youth advisor (achieving, among others, "Teen Club of the Year" award), as a past president of the Parish Council and since 1996, and as the recipient of the Protsyngelous Ellis Khouri Merit Award. Bob earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Akron.

Los Angeles and the West
Carole A. Buleza, Acting Coordinator; (717) 747-5221;

Eagle River and the Northwest
Carole A. Buleza, Acting Coordinator; (717) 747-5221;

Ottawa and Upstate New York
Rev. Fr. Christopher Rigden-Briscall; (519) 807-2986;
Father Christopher, originally from Vancouver, has a background in the field of social work. He worked with children and youth, including fostering over 30 children. He converted to Orthodoxy in 1996. After completing the St. Stephen’s Course of Study, he served as a deacon for three years. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2005, after attending St. Vladimir’s Seminary. He serves as the parish priest in Waterloo, Ontario, is very involved in camp ministry and is the father of four. He has served the Antiochian Department of Christian Education for 6 years as the Coordinator for Ottawa and Upstate New York.

Wichita and Mid-America
Vasiliki Oldziey; (512) 694-7073;
Vasiliki (Billie) holds a B.A. in Humanities and Dance from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. and a certificate in the Laban/Bartnieff System of Movement Analysis, NYC. She is a second grade teacher at Christ the Savior Academy, an Orthodox Christian Classical school in Wichita, Ks.  Vasiliki previously taught dance/mime/movement classes for children in the Central Texas region and was a substitute teacher and vision and hearing screener for the Austin, Texas school district for nine years. For 27 years, Vasiliki either taught Church School or acted as the director Church School at St. Elias Orthodox Church in Austin.  In 1995, along with the V. Rev. James Kenna, she helped to establish and served as editor of the quarterly publication, The Children's Magazine for Orthodox Christian Children.  For the past 14 years, she has been studying iconography and writing icons.  She has received commissions to write icons for private prayer, for Camp St. Raphael and portable icons for churches. She served as the Southwest Region Writing Festival Coordinator and as the DOWAMA Coordinator of the Creative Festivals.   Vasiliki also serves as a co-chair of the DOWAMA Sacred Arts Committee, established by His Grace, Bishop Basil. She has led workshops for church school teachers and adult Christian education. Most importantly, Vasiliki is the proud mom of Nicholas, an art major in college.

Worcester and New England
Mat. Anna Hughes; (978) 686-3274;
Mat. Anna Timko Hughes, who resides in Methuen MA, is the regional coordinator for the Diocese of Worcester and New England. She holds a BA in Sociology and Education from Wilkes College and a M.Ed with concentration in History from Lamar University. She currently teaches history at Methuen High School to sophomore and junior students. She is married to the Very Rev. Edward W. Hughes and they have four adult children and one grandson. She is a member of St. George Orthodox Church in Lawrence, MA, where she chants, sings in the choir and volunteers with the Sunday school and other activities. She also is a trainer for the OCEC. She spends her free time crocheting, reading and traveling.

Miami and the Southeast
Carole A. Buleza, Acting Coordinator; (717) 747-5221;


Gail Meena attends St. Matthew the Evangelist Orthodox Church in North Royalton, Ohio. She currently assists with the church education program as well as the Creative Festivals projects at St. Matthews. She was regional Creative Festival Chair for the past three years. Gail has published church school curriculum, including “Starting Over, Preparing for First Confession in the Orthodox Church” and “Papa’s Clock, a Children’s Book of Feast Days.” Gail coordinates the Antiochian Village camp scholarship program for her church, as well. She has taught in Parma, OH for the past 20 years, and is currently a 5th grade intervention specialist. She has three children and three grandchildren.

Myra Kovalak has served on the Department of Christian Education for the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, as well as the Dept. of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America for the past fifteen years, writing curriculum, coordinating retreats for teens and women, teacher workshops, children's activities, and summer camps.  She serves as chair of the Teacher Training Department of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission. She holds a BA in English and Secondary Education, and has done graduate work in elementary and secondary education.  She participates in the Antiochian Archdiocese's annual Orthodox Institute for Christian Education, as well as Teacher Training Workshop presentations at St. Tikhon and St. Vladimir Seminaries.  She is the language arts teacher at St. John Neumann Regional Lower Academy in Williamsport, PA. She serves on the board of the Lycoming Unit of the American Cancer Society, working on the annual Relay for Life, as well as the Reach-to-Recovery and Support Group programs for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. She is married to Fr. Daniel Kovalak of Holy Cross Church in Williamsport, PA., who serves on the OCA Department of Evangelization. They have two daughters, and two grandchildren.

Sandy Mitchell received her B.A. in Biology from Cornell College. She currently teaches science to students in grades 1-12 at St. Peters Classical School Fort Worth, Texas. She is a member of St. Peters Antiochian Orthodox Church, where she serves as part of the teen SOYO advisor team. For 18 years, she has been an active part of St. Peter's Christian Education department, serving as Church School Director, teacher, and VBS coordinator. Sandy is the Christian Education Director for Camp St. Raphael, for which she writes and compiles a yearly curriculum. She serves the Department of Christian Education as the Western Rite liaison, a teacher trainer for the OCEC, and as an associate Christian education coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita and Mid America.

Anna-Sarah Fahra earned a Bachelor of Science, Merchandising from the University of Kentucky and for several years worked within retail management training employees in various capacities. While she no longer works corporately, she homeschools her daughter and actively serves the Sunday School of St. Thomas in Snohomish, WA. Prior to living in Washington, Anna-Sarah and her family were at St. John Church in Memphis, TN, St. Anthony Church in Bergenfield, NJ, and Saint George Cathedral, Coral Gables, FL. While at these parishes, she served as vice-president and president of the Antiochian Orthodox Women local chapter (St. John), organized several events at the PLC held in Memphis (St. John), assisted in planning special events/fundraisers (St. Anthony), and most recently at Saint George served as vice principal of Sunday School for two years, the Creative Arts Festival coordinator for two years, and editor of the monthly Sunday School newsletters for two years before moving to Washington. Now at St. Thomas Anna-Sarah has been trained in Level 1 Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Anna-Sarah will serve as liaison and support for our Sunday Church School Directors. She can be reached at:

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