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The Department of Youth and Parish Ministries supports and integrates the whole spectrum of archdiocesan programs for youth, including the Camping Program, Teen SOYO, and Campus Ministry. This department also works closely with the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, whose mission-while not directed solely at youth-resonates closely with the objectives of this department. Although all of these programs together encompass a broad range of activity and age groups, all share the same goal: to encourage full participation in the life of the Church through worship, witness, service, and fellowship. This department trains youth leaders, organizes events, provides consultation for youth leaders and pastors across the archdiocese, maintains youth-related data and a cache of ministry resources, and oversees programs such as the Bible Bowl and the Oratorical Festival.

The Department of Youth and Parish Ministries webpage has information and links that are intended to be broadly informative for young people, youth leaders, pastors, and parents. Visitors looking for more specific information on the Camping Program, Teen SOYO, Campus Ministry, or the Fellowship of St. John the Divine are encouraged to visit their respective web pages for a complete picture of what each has to offer. Go HERE to sign up for the Department's email list server.

SOYO Launches New Website

SOYO, the youth movement of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, has launched a new and redesigned website at

Check out the new offerings under:
Shop for SOYO apparel, key chains, and other items
"Ask Abouna"
Instagram and news feeds

Visit today!

Special Olympics Sunday 2016

On October 16th, 2016, the North American Council of Teen SOYO sponsors the 36th Annual Special Olympics Awareness Day. Every August, Teen SOYO hosts and funds an annual week‐long camp for Special Olympics Athletes at the Antiochian Village. Over the past 35 years, Teen SOYO has fostered a camping experience like no other. Our camp demonstrates a unified environment where teen SOYO members from across the Archdiocese come together with coaches from Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) and enthusiastic athletes for an intense week of sports training and witness to Christ.

Through your generous donations, SOYO Special Olympics Sports Camp has grown immensely through the years. This year, we experienced a record number of athletes in attendance, and have accomplished an astounding 35 years of SOYO Special Olympics Camp. Over these 35 years, we have hosted more than 7,700 athletes and coaches, and over 1,050 of our teens have been blessed by working as SOYO Coaches or Volunteers. It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to serve, pray, and play with these Special Olympics Athletes, and we look forward, with your help, to continuing this important ministry.

October 2016: Archdiocese Youth Month

October is the month when the Archdiocese introduces teens to the many opportunities to minister in the Church. The youth "are encouraged to read the Epistle, chant and sing in the choir, assist in church school, and give sermons approved by the priest," explains Department of Youth Chairman The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura. 

Another way teens can get involved in their parishes is to participate in the Creative Arts, Bible Bowl, and Oratorical Festivals. This year’s theme, selected by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, is "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Mark 11:17)

Youth Ministry: Connecting Learning with Living in the Kingdom

by V. Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, from the October 2016 issue of The Word:

In this article, we will look at what we are trying to accomplish in youth ministry, especially as we make the connection between what youth learn in the classroom and how they live out their lives as members of the kingdom of God here and now. We will look at youth ministry in terms of spiritual formation and the development of their identity as children of God. In doing so, we will reflect upon the holy scriptures and the divine services of the Church, examine the wisdom of the fathers, and, just as importantly, reach into layers of experience and practical expression to generate dialogue on what spiritual formation looks like in the classroom and beyond.

Today, the Church needs well-trained and well-equipped youth workers for the long term. Too often, we see youth ministry as a stepping stone to "real ministry," as a time of waiting for ordination or a secular job. We must be serious about raising and forming young people by training youth workers who commit their lives to youth ministry. America needs educators and youth workers who know the faith, who know Orthodox theology, who have diverse talents, who are of varying ages, and who are models of committed servants of Christ. In addition, it is with years of experience working with young people that we as clergy and youth workers can begin to understand fully the immense task before us. With many years of ministering to young people in Christ, and with them, clergy and youth workers develop the eyes, the ears, and the heart that are so essential to participating with God in youth formation.

Who Is the Enemy?

by His Grace Bishop John, from The Word Magazine, October 2016

October is Youth Month in the Antiochian Archdiocese. We make special efforts to remind the youth that they are not the future of the church, but part of the present. Baptized into Christ, they already have gifts of God's grace and the responsibility to live and share the Faith of the Apostles that has been delivered to them. They were baptized to gather as the Church, allowing them to grow, respond to God, pray for the world and witness to the truths that God has revealed to them and us. The God who has revealed himself allows them and us to encounter him and engage ourselves with him. These are their Christian vocations, and ours from our youth up, along with God's call to resist those "many passions that war against us."

Department of Youth News Archive

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