Oratorical Festival 2021


ASCENSION'S PARISH-LEVEL ORATORICAL FESTIVAL TOOK PLACE AFTER LITURGY on April 11, 2021.  It was a blessing to hear our youth inspire and teach us as they offered their unique point of view about the Christian Faith!  Their speeches, essays, poetry, chanting, and iconography were truly inspiring! We congratulate all 11 of our participants and thank our 3 judges who joined us from other parishes.  A special thank you to the parents who encouraged our youth to participate in this important component of our community’s religious education. More information on the Oratorical program can be found below. 

A recording of this year's Oratorical program is available HERE and photos from this joyous event are posted in our website gallery HERE.  Submissions from the Jr and Sr Divisions (grades 7-12) that advance will present at the Metropolis of Chicago's Oratorical festival on Bright Saturday, May 8.

Express Your Faith!  Represent your Parish!  Do you like to write?  Draw? Chant? Present your point in front of an audience? Don’t miss the opportunity to show your God-given talents as a writer, speaker, artist and vocalist by participating in the 2021 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival. If you are in 7th – 12th grade, you are encouraged to participate in this program, which gives you the opportunity to reflect upon and express what your faith means to you.

The Saint John Chrysostom Oratorical and Fine Arts Festival is a longstanding tradition that provides a unique opportunity for our youth both to learn about their faith and to display their talents in the areas of Speech, Essay, Poetry, Iconography and Vocal Solo. Those who are successful at their individual parish festivals are invited to participate at the Metropolitan Festival each spring. 

This year, Ascension's Mini-Oratorical Festival will take place on Sunday, April 11.  We are hoping for a great turnout and encourage our youth to make a commitment to this program.  Submissions are due to Ascension on Monday, April 5th.  The Metropolis of Chicago 38th Annual Saint John Chrysostom Oratorical and Fine Arts Festival will be held virtually on Bright Saturday, May 8, 2021.  All entries are due to the Metropolis by April 19, 2021, following submission first to Ascension.  (Submissions are first submitted on a parish level and those that advance will be asked to complete a registration form and forward their presentations to the Metropolis by April 19, 2021, for review and integration into the May 8th virtual festival!  In order to apply, you must be registered in either the Sunday Church School program, Jr. GOYA/GOYA, or the Girls' Chant group.)  Please contact Desiree Petros, our Parish coordinator, with questions at ddpetros@comcast.net.

To begin preparing, click HERE to view the relevant 2021 topics announced by the Archdiocese, or view below.  

2021 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Topics *

* Click HERE for more information on the topics listed below as well as tips and resources for researching these topics and guidelines for presenting them (length of speech, essay, format for icon and vocal submission).

Junior Division (Grades 7–9)

1.  Discuss the challenges and opportunities of watching a church service that is live streamed.

2. Prayer is called a “conversation with God.” Discuss the meaning of prayer in your life.

3. During the pandemic, people noticed that our natural environment became cleaner. What can this teach us about our care for the natural world?

4. Why is the Church still relevant, especially for young people, in our increasingly secular, post-COVID world?

5. Choose one parable from the Gospel of Luke chapters 15 or 16 that is particularly meaningful to you and explain what we can learn from it.

Senior Division (Grades 10–12)

1. During the stay at home period of the pandemic, Orthodox Christians had to find ways to practice their faith without attending church in person or
participating in parish activities. Discuss what you learned during those days.

2. In July 2020, a Turkish court gave permission for Hagia Sophia to be converted from a museum into a mosque. Discuss the significance of Hagia Sophia in the history of Christianity and the power of monuments like it to inspire religious identity.

3. We live in a highly polarized society – left vs. right, personal liberty vs. common good, and other issues where it seems everything is politicized. How are we as Orthodox Christians called to navigate this environment?

4. St. Peter writes, “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16). What is freedom and how does it become a basis for being a servant?

5. In the Psalms we read, “If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you.” (Psalm 130:3-4, NRSV). Discuss how an Orthodox Christian understands sin, forgiveness, mercy, and repentance. 


** An Information Packet complete with all submission guidelines and evaluation criteria can be found HERE.

If you are in 4th-6th grade, there's a program for you, too, that helps you reflect about your faith and help you practice for when you are older!  The purpose of the Elementary Division is to offer children the opportunity to express their feelings about their Faith and Church while gaining confidence and laying the groundwork for later participation in the Junior and Senior Divisions.  Click HERE for more information on the Elementary Division Program. 


What the Metropolis envisions is having a very small number of people present at the host parish to introduce and judge the Speech and Vocal Solo categories.  The participants in these categories will speak/sing from their homes through a live feed (technology permitting), with all family and friends hopefully able to watch.  As in previous years, the Essay, Poetry and Iconography categories will be judged earlier that week.  After the live presentations on Bright Saturday, the Metropolis hopes to conclude with a separate live Awards Presentation for all five categories. 


With the blessing of Archbishop Elpidophoros, the Archdiocesan St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Committee has decided that the Archdiocesan, or National level Festival, scheduled for June 11-13, 2021 will be a virtual festival.  The National Festival has the additional benefits of occurring one month later and involving participants from each Metropolis across the Archdiocese.  

Visit the Metropolis of Chicago Oratorical Webpage HERE

Visit the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America's official 2021 Oratorical Website HERE

For more information, please contact Ascension's Oratorical Coordinator, Desiree Petros at ddpetros@comcast.net.