Works of the Order in Action: Working Together - Teen SOYO and the Order of St. Ignatius
Spiritual retreats, summer camps, and involvement in local Teen SOYO activities are among the many opportunities for teens to learn, grow, and become leaders in our Orthodox Christian Faith. For over 43 years, members of Teen SOYO have ministered to the youth across our Archdiocese. Every year, The Order of St. Ignatius funds Teen SOYO programs, such as Teen SOYO Leadership Training, and Special Olympics Sports Camp. With generous annual funding from the Order of St. Ignatius, Teen SOYO is blessed with many opportunities for development and expansion. Through the gifts and faith of members of the Order of St. Ignatius, Teen SOYO is able to elect new leaders annually and train them, and fulfill its mission of training and empowering youth.
Every summer, Leadership Training is held for the newly elected SOYO officers of each diocese. Through this week of training, officers learn how to be Christian leaders and serve the youth of our Archdiocese. For all officers, spiritual advisors, and youth directors in attendance, it is a very fruitful and enlightening time for SOYO officers to come together, learn from one another, and evaluate how to improve SOYO. During the five days of Leadership Training, officers acquire public speaking skills, learn how to run a SOYO business meeting, discuss innovative ways to promote SOYO, prepare SOYO activities for the upcoming year, and engage our young people in the Orthodox Faith in all the things they do. The tools and ideas gained from Leadership Training are invaluable and will serve us into future generations. In the same way a caterpillar emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly, officers return back to their parishes and diocese with confidence to effectively continue this ministry.
For over thirty years, the teens of our Archdiocese have volunteered as coaches for Special Olympics Sports Camp. When Teen SOYO started this project, The Order gave matching funds to assist our teens, as time progressed; the contribution from Teen SOYO grew more than seven fold with Teen SOYO now raising the majority of the needed funds on their own. Special Olympics Sports Camp started and is run by Teen SOYO, is staffed and held every summer at the Antiochian Village and involves SOYO and SOPA (Special Olympics of Pennsylvania) coaches with Special Olympics athletes from Pennsylvania. Participants learn to serve their neighbors as Christ calls us to, with emotion and compassion. This beautiful ministry produces unexpected and life changing experiences and has changed lives for Thirty-three years. The week of Special Olympics is devoted to coaching the athletes in various sports such as swimming, soccer, basketball, and tennis. The coaches maintain constant communion with the athletes. Although the athletes specifically benefit from this week of Special Olympics, the Teen SOYO coaches gain incredible knowledge from the athletes. In addition, coaches gain an amazing opportunity to truly live the teachings of the Gospel. In recent years, The Order of St Ignatius has supplemented the funds raised by Teen SOYO to enable SOYO to invite more athletes. The funding from the Order of St. Ignatius allows Special Olympics Sports Camp to grow over the years increasing the number of athletes and SOYO coaches that SOYO brings each year.
Teen SOYO is constantly growing in numbers and in the Orthodox Faith. Every year, we are expanding and adding new SOYO Chapters on the map in this Archdiocese. Having Teen SOYO as the youth movement of our archdiocese gives empowerment to the teens to grow spiritually in our Faith and become Christian leaders of our Archdiocese. From Teen SOYO to all the members of the Order of St. Ignatius, thank you for investing money, time, love, and care into Teen SOYO programs, specifically Leadership Training and Special Olympics. With your constant blessings every year, you are changing the lives of teens and inspiring greatness to fervently give to Special Olympics.
NAC SOYO President