Washington D.C. - At an elaborate ceremony on February 5, 2014 at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) National Leadership Forum held at Maryland's National Harbor Gaylord Convention Center, the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) was awarded a Graduate Certificate of Completion from the CADCA National Coalition Academy. OCCHY was among 87 graduating coalitions from across the U.S. to achieve this certification.
OCCHY-Chicago was represented by Chicago Coalition Coordinator Gordana Trbuhovich of the Serbian Orthodox New Gracanica-Midwestern Diocese, and Board Chairman Harold A. Peponis of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. The two received the graduation award from CADCA Chairman and CEO Major General Retired Arthur T. Dean, and Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez, New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
The 2014 Special Olympics Sports Camp is scheduled to be held at the Antiochian Village August 8-16, 2014. This ministry is sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO, and is the second longest running program of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, serving approximately 175 campers each season. It is the premier SOYO outreach program, now in its 33rd year of service. Each year SOYO teens raise the funds on Special Olympics Awareness Day.
In addition to the funds raised, SOYO teens provide at least half the coaching staff, and many adult volunteers participate as well. The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth Ministry, has announced that the 2014 Special Olympic Coaches Application is now available for those youth who are interested in working at the Sports Camp. Additionally, for adults over twenty years of age, the Special Olympics Volunteer application is posted as well.
The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, notes that "there are currently several parishes looking to hire full time youth directors. If you are interested in working full time in parish youth work, please contact me via email, at FrJoseph@OrthodoxYouth.com.
Job requirements for the positions are listed on the Orthodox Jobs Website.
Antiochian clergy and parishioners should be reminded that camper scholarships are again available to each parish and mission in the Antiochian Archdiocese through the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Applications were mailed to all parish priests on January 16, 2014. If you are a priest and have not received that mailing, please be in immediate contact with Fr. Anthony Yazge of Antiochian Village, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that applications to receive your scholarships ($700 per parish) must be received by Fr. Anthony no later than Saturday, March 1, 2014. More camping information is available from the Department of Camping.
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has announced a Day of Prayer for college students across the United States as they begin the 2014 Lenten journey at the beginning of March. OCF Day of Prayer is a program that unites the various chapters across North America in prayer. Each year, on the first day of Great Lent (Clean Monday), participating OCF chapters take part in 24 hours of unceasing prayer. Each school takes a one-hour slot to pray for themselves, their chapters and their fellow students.
Chapters of OCF are invited to sign up for an hour of prayer that begins at 6:00 p.m. EST on Forgiveness Sunday, March 2. Chapters are invited to submit prayer requests for family members and friends, and each prayer intention will be forwarded to participating chapters in the Day of Prayer commemorations.
More information is available on the Day of Prayer webpage at the OCF's Website.
Katrina Bitar is the North America Program Director for YES, or Youth Equipped to Serve. A ministry of FOCUS North America, YES provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service in urban environments across the U.S. and Canada. A lifetime member of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Katrina began working with youth during her college years and eventually was tapped to head the YES program after graduating from St. Vladimir's Seminary in 2009. A look at her busy calendar for the first half of 2014 reveals that she will be involved with outreach efforts in Philadelphia, Montreal, Oklahoma City, Grand Rapids, Houston, Austin, and St. Louis. Antiochian.org asked her to introduce the work of YES and explain the impact it is having on the Church's youth.
What is your background, and how did you first get involved with YES?
I was born in Burbank, California, but spent most of my life in Little Falls, NJ. I discovered my youth ministry gifts while serving at the Antiochian Village as a counselor during my college years. In 2001, I took a job as a youth director for a parish in Phoenix, AZ that began my full-time youth ministry work. It was through my work as a parish youth director that I was introduced to the YES Program.
The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, has announced that the 2014 Francis Maria Scholarship application is now available for college students to download on the Archdiocese's scholarship page. Through a generous gift of the Francis Maria Foundation for Justice and Peace, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America will once again grant several scholarships in the amount of $2,500 to students attending an accredited college. The scholarships will be granted in July, and all supporting documentation must be postmarked by May 15, 2014 and received by May 22.
Additionally, other scholarships are available to Antiochian Orthodox students, including the Harry & Florence Kouri Scholarship for a Diocese of Wichita graduating High School senior, the Bill Cohlmia and Joan Cohlmia-Razook Memorial Scholarship for the Continuing Education of Diocese of Wichita clergy, an Antiochian Women's Scholarship, the Eastern Diocese Fellowship of St. John the Divine Scholarship, the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting Scholarship, and the Diocese of Toledo Metropolitan Anthony Bashir Memorial Scholarship.
Beloved in Christ,
I write these words just after the 2013 Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village. The fellowship and book-signings were a chance to get to know and speak with some of the prominent people in the Orthodox Church. The presentations were truly educational and inspirational. An eight-panel display of "Art and Symbols of the Catacombs" shed light on the images that were most important to the early Christians. All together it was a memorable and valuable weekend.
Almost a hundred people participated in The Orthodox Institute at Antiochian Village, October 31 – November 3, 2013. The theme was "Blessed is the Kingdom: Acts 2:42 and Today," and the goal was to answer the question, "Can we revive the spirit of giving for which the early church was known?"
Music Learn is proud to announce the release of Kh. Gigi Baba Shadid's latest Orthodox Christian music CD, Fight the Good Fight. Teacher, Antiochian youth worker, and songwriter, Gigi's passion is teaching with music; this is Gigi's fifth music CD, and the first one written primarily for teens and adults. Her other projects include: Fruits of the Spirit (2004), Celebrate the Feasts (2007), Middle School Math Music (2008), and The ABC's of Orthodoxy (2011).
Church school teachers and parents throughout the United States, Canada, and many parts of the world have been enjoying her music for the past ten years. It has proven to be an effective tool for teaching and reinforcing the eternal truths of Christ and His holy Church. "This new CD is filled with essential questions for our salvation," noted Gigi.
Youth workers in North America are invited to the 2014 Camp and Youth Workers Conference, an annual gathering scheduled for January 23-25, 2014 at the Antiochian Village. Endorsed by the Assembly of Bishops, this year's Conference will address the theme, "Made in His Image and Likeness," with Keynote Speaker Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko.
The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, explains that the conference is "intended to help the parish youth worker spiritually form the teens they work with, on the parish level. I encourage all parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese to send your parish youth workers and teen SOYO advisors to this conference." Workshops will be available for three tracks: Youth Worker, Camp Ministry, and Pastoral.
Registration is open for the annual St. Herman Middle School Retreat, convening at Antiochian Village on the feast day of St. Herman of Alaska.
- Who: Students in grades 5-8
- Where: Antiochian Village Conference Center, December 13-15, 2013
- What: interactive presentations and discussions, weekend liturgical services (with an outdoor supplication service to St. Herman), games, crafts, meals and snacks, sledding, geocaching, stargazing, guided night hike, a campfire
- Why: The distraction-free environment of the Village and the spiritual emphasis of the retreat offer a wonderful opportunity for middle schoolers to focus on their faith
- How much: $96/person for lodging and meals
- Download the registration form or visit the Antiochian Village's list of upcoming events for more information.
Fr. Anthony Yagze, Chair of the Departments of College Ministry, and Camping, encourages all youth in the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate in the YouTube challenge. "It's an interesting opportunity for young people!" he notes.
Welcome to the 2013 Orthodox Church in America (OCA) YouTube Challenge!
Youth and Young Adult (Ages 14-28) should respond with an original video by midnight on November 15, 2013, to the following question: "What is the Gospel?" Participants may wish to reflect on:
- The essential message of Jesus Christ
- What his actions and words tell us about humanity and divinity
- How the Gospel message can be preached in your particular environment (school, work, family, etc..)
Participants may wish to use their video to deliver a traditional speech, or find ways of more creatively answering the challenge through visual imagery and poetic license.
September 16, 2013
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) reports:
OCF's "Real Break" aims to prepare college students to be socially informed Orthodox Christian citizens of this world, while directing their focus on the world to come, the kingdom of heaven. Built on a foundation of fellowship, education, worship, and service, Real Break provides students the opportunity to understand the true meaning of seeing Christ in the other—traveling to all parts of the world deepening their faith, serving those in need, and cultivating relationships with like-minded peers.
Color and black and white versions of the official logo for 2014 Parish Life Conferences are now available online:
Calling all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni!
OCF is in the midst of collecting names for its First Forty Days program and it needs the help of each parish, to help high school graduates seamlessly join the OCF network. First Forty Days aims to integrate new collegians into the life of an OCF chapter during the first forty days of college. Please submit student information on OCF's website by June 30th to ensure that each students will be directly contacted by the OCF North American Office and greeted on his or her college campus by an OCF family and local parish at the beginning of the fall semester.
Questions? Please contact North American Chapter Relations Coordinator Christina Andresen at email@example.com.
Calling all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni!
OCF is in the midst of collecting names for our "First Forty Days" program. We want to help your parish's high school graduates seamlessly join the OCF network by integrating them into the life of a chapter during the first forty days of their college experience. Please submit your student information on our website here by June 15th to ensure that your students will be directly contacted by the OCF North American Office and that they will be greeted on their college campuses by an OCF family and local parish at the beginning of the fall semester.
As a way of providing additional support for college students, OCF is offering "Connect Kits" for college freshmen; the kits include prayer books, icons, and OCF media designed to encourage young adults to stay in the Church once they leave home for school. For questions regarding the First Forty Days, Connect Kits, or the network of OCF chapters across North America, please contact our North American Chapter Relations Coordinator Christina Andresen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the final installment in the Orthodox Christian Network's (OCN) May "Come Receive the Light" series about Sex and the Christian, OCN Executive Director Fr. Christopher Metropulos interviewed Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. In the interview, Fr. Joseph spoke about the holiness of Christian sexuality, and how it is meant to enrich the marital life of couples.
"We have the Scriptures given to us as...a wealth of information on how God intends us to live out our lives," emphasized Fr. Joseph in the interview. "God places before us so many of the answers but we go seeking for information from our culture and end up at a dead end. We have to first begin with God's Word—it is lifegiving."
The National Youth Directors of several different Orthodox Jurisdictions, together with the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), have collaborated to offer several resources for clergy and lay people to help minister to our youth and young adults in light of the recent public violence in and around Boston.
The resource packet contains a cover letter from several youth directors, three reflections on the attacks by adults, ten tips for speaking to your youth groups and church school classes about public violence, and ten suggested steps for equipping your youth group or OCF chapter to respond to these tragedies. Additionally, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) has made available its online study guide “A Christian Response to Terrorism.” This study guide, originally compiled after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, provides prayers, scriptural references, and discussion questions to use with youth and young adults.
In addition to the OCA, these materials have been provided by collaboration between the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, the Ukrainian Church of the USA, and the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia.
Tanya Schillawski, the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Student Advisory Board Praxis Coordinator, has announced that the OCF Day of Prayer will begin on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 8. For twenty-four hours, college students at OCF chapters around the country will be praying continuously. The OCF website will post the prayer service, with versions that can be used with and without the presence of a priest. Insructions on setting up a live feed will also be posted, so that students from around the country can pray with the designated chapter.
For those OCF chapters unable to participate in the program, leaders are requested that their lists of names of the living and departed be sent to email@example.com. The cut off day to submit names is Friday, March 29th, with no exceptions allowed. These lists will then be posted on the OCF's website.
The parish of St. Antonios Antiochian Orthodox Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia was blessed to have Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Antiochian Department of Youth Ministry, join us for a weekend full of inspiration, motivation and faith.
On Friday March 8, Fr. Joseph met with the parents of the youth in the community and informed them about issues that have become a serious problem within society. This includes sex, drugs and alcohol. Sadly, these common activities observed within society also affect teens in the Orthodox Church.
Increasing parent and teen awareness to these issues was an extremely important aspect of the weekend, as many parents were not updated with the latest science about the harm that results from the use of alcohol and drug substances.
As part of a growing partnership between Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), audio field reports are being posted from select Real Break Trips on Ancient Faith Radio, including ministry to: Guatemala, Honduras, Constantinople, Mexico, Toronto, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. Tune in to AFR to listen on demand as they become available.
Other joint projects include the OCF Podcast, Special College Student Editions of Orthodoxy Live ( a live call in program) and coverage of other special OCF events.
Ancient Faith Radio seeks to deepen and enrich the faith of Orthodox Christians around the world with streaming audio programming and on-demand podcasts. It features liturgical music from a variety of Orthodox traditions, as well as prayers, readings, lectures, and interviews.
The Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Youth Director Erin Ghata, member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Oklahoma City, OK, recently reported to the St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood, that the Diocese of Wichita's annual SOYO Winter Camp from February 15-17 exceeded all expectations. "Your blessing!" wrote Ms. Ghata. "Thank God, by your prayers, we had a wonderful time this past weekend at Winter Camp! More than 120 DOWAMA teens and chaperones gathered at Camp Saint Raphael (YABOY!) for a weekend of prayer, fellowship and learning. It was the biggest Winter Camp we have ever had!
"Father James Shadid did an amazing job as our speaker," she continued.
In time for the 2013-2014 academic year, the Scholarships page on Antiochian.org has been updated to include all archdiocesan forms and deadlines, as well as information from other institutions offering scholarships to Antiochian students at both the college or graduate school level.
Students can browse through various options, including a scholarship for a student in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, a scholarship from Antiochian Women, several scholarships from the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, scholarships available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and scholarships for former Scouts. By way of reminder, camp scholarships are also available through the Order of St. Ignatius.
As part of a "Come Receive the Light" series on the family and the Church, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, recently joined Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) Executive Director Fr. Chris Metropulos for two discussions about helping Orthodox teens navigate today's complicated journey to adulthood. (Listen to Part I, "Moving Towards Salvation," and Part II, "Closer to Christ.)
Father Joseph outlined the top challenges, which he noted are as great as they've been at any time in history: busyness which can be senseless, stress, overscheduling, distractions, a sense of being overstimulated by technology, overexposure to sexual images, and the prevalence of substance abuse. He also explained that historically, parents had never been expected to raise their kids without outside support; the community as a whole felt a responsibility to help children grow up safely.
During the month of January, the youth of the Antiochian Archdiocese traditionally focus on two worthy SOYO programs: Sacred Gift of Life, and Purity, Virginity, Chastity. Local Teen SOYO chapters and high school Christian Education classes are encouraged to view and use the resources found on SOYO's website. Some of the materials include a case study on abortion and the sacred gift of life developed by Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt, leading Orthodox bioethicist; lesson plans with discussion questions about chastity; and essays about the Sacrament of Matrimony and the mystery of marriage.
The SOYO site explains that "while people may have failed to make good choices in the past on this most important issue of life, SOYO chooses to help educate a generation of teens to make good choices with how they use their body and how they treat life - given as a gift from God." With these resources, teens, under the leadership of their pastors and advisors, will have the material necessary to hold productive discussions which will hopefully further their belief and commitment to the sacred gift of life and to the virtues of purity and chastity.