The Antiochian Archdiocese's Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) is a unique national alliance founded and supported by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Archdiocese. The ministry focuses on establishing, training and leading substance abuse prevention and intervention coalitions across America.
On May 22, 2014, OCCHY's active Cicero, Illinois Coalition hosted a Town Hall Meeting for parents and teens, titled "Underage Alcohol & Substance Prevention." Sponsored by the federal government's Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration, the meeting featured law enforcement and mental health professionals, who presented talks about how to ensure safety and sobriety for teens. The presentations are available on YouTube and may be viewed on OCCHY's website.
His Grace Bishop Thomas has reminded the faithful of several important resources for youth.
1. 2015 Orthodox Christian Camp and Youth Worker Conference
The theme is "Walking Alongside Our Youth" and the keynote addresses will be delivered by Fr. Bogdan Bucur and Dr. Stefanie Yazge. More details will follow. We will also be posting this information to the Orthodox Christian Camping Association.
2. In addition, there will be a College Retreat the weekend of Orthodoxy Sunday, February 27—March 1, 2015. The topic is "Standing at the Foot of the Cross and the speakers are Fr. Anthony Yazge, Marek Simon, & Chris Shadid. Please register online at www.avcamp.org.
Come enjoy a weekend of spiritual retreat and fellowship with other Orthodox Christian college students. We will have discussions, daily services, and conclude the weekend by celebrating Sunday of Orthodoxy together! Registration is now open!
- Please register online at www.avcamp.org
- Cost is $95, including all meals, lodging, and activities, to be held at the Camp (bring own bed linens/sleeping bag, pillow, towels, and toiletries)
- If you have questions, please e-mail Chris Shadid at email@example.com or call the camp office at 724-238-9565, ext. 505
- Download the flyer
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 12-14, 2014
- 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: $100/person for lodging and meals; $120 if postmarked after November 15
- Download the registration form
- Download the Consent Form
- Visit the Antiochian Village's website
The 2015 Orthodox Christian Camp and Youth Worker Conference, with the theme "Walking Alongside our Youth," will be held at Antiochian Village on January 22-24. The Conference, now in its 13th year, exists to bring all Orthodox Christians doing youth ministry at any level and in any form together for several days to further their education, foster brotherhood, and provide fellowship. Each year a different jurisdiction of the Orthodox Churches in the United States hosts the Conference, with the input and direction provided by the Orthodox Christian Camp Association and national Church Youth Department directors.
Keynote Addresses will be offered by The Rev. Dr. Bogdan Bucur, associate professor of Theology at Duquesne University, and Dr. Stefanie Yazge, professor of Theology at St. Vincent College. A series of workshops focusing on youth ministry as it relates to youth workers and camp staff, daily services, and fellowship, will be available to enable attendees to get to know each other better.
Registration is available online and an early-bird discount is offered through December 15, 2014.
Jordan Kurzum is a sophomore Spanish major at the University of Pittsburgh. During the school year, he attends St. George Orthodox Cathedral with Fr. Demetrios Makoul, while staying in touch with his home parish, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Little Falls, NJ, with Fr. Dimitri Darwich. Jordan oversees all the officers of the Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations (SOYO) at the national and regional level, making sure that they have the resources and information they need. He graciously offered Antiochian.org some time during the Archdiocese's 2014 Youth Month to talk about what motivates him to be involved in the Church through his SOYO leadership position.
With all the demands on your time, why invest in SOYO?
We are constantly busy, but what's wonderful about SOYO is that it is enjoyable—it's not like school work! I really find it fulfilling, interacting with the other officers and serving the local parishes and dioceses. It's a great contrast to school work, and a break from studying, and it encourages me to stay involved in the Church.
The third Sunday of October, October 18, 2015 is Special Olympics Awareness Day (SOAD) across our Archdiocese. On Sunday, October 18th, your teen group, or if you have none, your designated representatives, are asked to seek the financial help of your parishioners in funding the Special Olympics Sports Camp to be held at the Antiochian Village in the summer of 2015. This ministry is run by and sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO. Our teens work very hard for this ministry and rely on the generosity and support of the faithful of our Archdiocese and the Order of St. Ignatius.
The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (or OCCHY) is a unique national alliance founded and supported by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Antiochian Archdiocese, involved in establishing, training and leading substance abuse prevention and intervention coalitions across America. The Healthy Youth initiative, sponsored by OCCHY, offers communities an opportunity to heighten awareness of how to combat substance abuse, prevent bullying, encourage sexual abstinence outside of marriage, and encourage respect for the sanctity of the human body. Recent updates on the Hookah Prevention initiative, the Healthy Youth ministry of Tucson, AZ, and the Cicero/Chicago based group, are available on OCCHY's Website.
OCCHY is developing local community networks to address substance abuse prevention and healthy living in parishes of each diocese. Each local chapter is trained in coalition building in their community. Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries Fr. Joseph Purpura, and Kh. Kathleen Purpura, Youth Consultant and Executive Director of OCCHY, work with the White House Director of the Drug Free Communities Program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the staff of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and local coalition leaders to establish substance prevention coalitions across America.
October is the month when the Antiochian 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 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn and focuses on his contributions to Orthodoxy in America, and is titled "Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America."
- Learn more about Special Olympics and the Awareness Day on October 19.
- Visit the Department of Youth, and the Teen SOYO section.
- Read Bp. John Abdalah's reflection, "What Can We Do for God's Youth Today?"
- Read All Things are Possible Through Christ, the speech awarded "Judges Choice" at the 2014 Oratorical Festival
The 2015 Oratorical Conference theme for the Antiochian Archdiocese has been announced as the "100th Anniversary of the Falling Asleep of Saint Raphael." Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny), much beloved by the American Syrian community he served during the early years of Orthodoxy on the North American continent, reposed in 1915 and was canonized in 2000 as St. Raphael of Brooklyn. This year's Creative Arts, Bible Bowl, and Oratorical Festivals held across the U.S. and Canada will feature his life and legacy.
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The following people were recipients of a 2014 Francis Maria Scholarship, a Fund that is managed by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Metropolitan Joseph presented these scholarships on July 19, 2014. Each scholarship recipient received a check in the amount of $2,500.
The Francis Maria Scholarships are available to all students attending an undergraduate accredited degree program in the fall after they submit their application. Applications are due in January of each year, and information may be obtained on the Antiochian.org Scholarship page. A Website dedicated to Frank Maria is also available.
A letter from His Grace Bishop Gregory of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, liaison from the Assembly of Bishops of the U.S.A. to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), concerning the Church's joint ministry to our Orthodox college students:
Dear Reverend Fathers:
As many of you know, the loss of our Christian youth is a staggering problem today in our country. Statistics show us that more than 80% of our young people are graduating high school, going to college and never returnlng to their faith group. l do not mean their parish or community, but their faith. In other words, more than 6 out of 10 Orthodox young adults will abandon Orthodoxy. This is a huge challenge for all of us.
As the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) works on behalf of all Orthodox to connect students to Christ and His Church during college. Through its campus-based chapters, regional events and programs such as College Conference and Real Break, OCF engages Orthodox college students across the continent in fellowship, education, worship, and service.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, the patriarchal vicar of New York and all North America, the 2014 Archdiocese Summer Meetings will be hosted at the Antiochian Village, July 18-20, 2014. The Archdiocese and diocese officers of the Antiochian Women, Fellowship of St. John Divine, and Teen SOYO, will gather for their annual summer meetings to conduct the business of the Archdiocese organizations.
In addition, the Archdiocese Bible Bowl and Oratorical Festivals will be held during the weekend with participants from each diocese. Please contact your NAC/NAB President if you have any questions.
Information for the Summer Meetings is as follows:
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.
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.