Orthodox Young Professionals Hold Successful Conference with Metropolitan Joseph in New Orleans
The challenges and the stresses of the workplace seem nonstop, but three inspiring speakers reminded the 188 participants in the Orthodox Young Professionals Conference that God does not abandon them there. Rather, He seeks to use them for His glory, to let their light “shine before men” (Matt. 5:16).
Fulfilling a promise he made two years ago at the last OYPC in San Diego, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided over and interacted with the young adults at the conference sponsored by the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Young Adult Ministry from August 18-21, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He congratulated them for “dwelling in unity” (Psalm 133:1) to meet the challenges of managing their lives, caring for their families and succeeding in their jobs. But Sayidna Joseph stressed that they will be empty and unfulfilled without Jesus Christ and His holy Church at the center of all aspects of their lives.
The OYPC was an opportunity for the attendees to share their struggles and triumphs in the workplace. The conference’s keynote speaker was chosen for his successes in both the secular and spiritual worlds. Archdeacon Saed Rihani of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Palos Heights, Illinois and the City Colleges of Chicago taught participants that it is perfectly fine when their coworkers find them “guilty” of being Christians. Archdeacon Saed reminded them that everyone, especially in the workplace, is put into their lives by God for a reason. Therefore, they must be prepared to express compassion, love and the Orthodox faith to anyone they encounter. After all, “difficult” coworkers may not have anyone praying for them.
Workshop speaker Jacob Saylor, youth director at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, shared the words of St. Gregory the Theologian: “One bad thought pollutes the whole universe.” That goes for relationships at the workplace, at home with family and friends, and especially in the Church. Jacob reminded the Young Professionals that is their turn to lead, to work in communion with God and one another, and to “trust the process” of professional and spiritual achievement without measuring it by the actual results.
Spiritual nourishment and divine services during the daytime were complimented by exciting fellowship opportunities at night. On the first evening, a lively New Orleans jazz band greeted the young professionals, complete with police escort, and paraded them to their welcome reception at a local restaurant. With a schedule allowing free time in the afternoon, attendees were able to connect and network with each other as they toured the city and its famous sites like the French Quarter.
Many participants asked how they could help with the recent Baton Rouge flooding that was only 50 miles away from the conference, and more than $500 was collected to assist the victims, a sum that will be combined with money raised by St. Basil the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church in Metairie, Louisiana. The attendees joined the faithful there on Sunday morning and V. Rev. Peter Nugent was very gracious in hosting and serving at the conference.
The conference would not be possible without the help of the many committee members and the financial support of sponsors. We thank Jason Amash, Charles and Marilee Ajalat, Dr. George & Mrs. Madanat and www.orthodoxbiblestudy.info for their support.
The OYPC is most grateful for Sayidna Joseph, Fr. Peter Nugent, Archdeacon Saed, and Jacob Saylor for sacrificing their time, energy and expertise to ensure a successful and inspiring conference. The attendees were also thankful for the efforts of the committee members, especially co-chairpersons Kyra Pelachik and Fadi Madanat, for providing for a memorable weekend. They all look forward to reuniting at next July’s Archdiocesan Convention in Miami, Florida and the next OYPC in August of 2018.