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Special Olympics Awareness Day 2015

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.

This past August (2014) our Special Olympics ministry was our largest program ever, with 327 Special Olympic athletes and coaches participating. Our teen SOYO coaches and volunteers ministered exceptionally well this summer. We thank you for the extraordinary young women and men you sent to serve at our Special Olympics sports camp. You are welcome to view the hundreds of photos from this year's Special Olympics camp to get a glimpse into this beautiful Christ-centered ministry performed by our young people.


Save the Date: Second Annual NAC Teen SOYO Day of Service is March 19, 2016

(View a video about the 2015 Day of Service)

On Saturday, March 19, 2016, the second Annual NAC Teen SOYO Day of Service will be hosted by SOYO chapters across the United States and Canada.

In reverence to the fundamental virtue of love, NAC Teen SOYO has asked that its chapters across the country dedicate this common day to the service of their local communities. SOYO members are being encouraged to organize an event on this date that will enable you to show Christ-like charity to your neighbors. 

We want to see what you are doing, so tag @NACSOYO and use the hashtag #SOYOservice in your posts on social media! Enter your local SOYO in a contest to win a beautiful icon by simply including your parish's name in one of your posts.

View the flyer for more details

Save the Date: Annual Orthodox Christian Camping and Youth Worker Conference is January 21-23, 2016

The Very Reverend Dr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, has announced that the January 2016 Annual Orthodox Christian Camping and Youth Worker Conference for parish youth workers, SOYO Advisors, and Teen Advisors, is set for January 21-23, 2016.  The Conference will be held at St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas, TX, and the theme is "Feed My Sheep: Crisis, Trauma, and Everyday Life."

Parishes are encouraged to send their Parish Youth Workers, Youth Director and Teen SOYO Advisors. More information will appear on the Orthodox Christian Camp Association website's conference page, once additional details are confirmed.

Youth Department Chairman Fr. Joseph Purpura Requests Prayers for Oregon Victims and Families

October 1, 2015

A message from the Very Reverend Dr. Joseph F. Purpura, chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry for the Antiochian Archdiocese:

On behalf of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Department of Youth and Parish Ministry and SOYO, the youth movement of the Antiochian Archdiocese, we offer up our prayers to those victims who were injured or killed in the shooting today at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
We fervently ask all of the young people of the Antiochian Archdiocese to keep all of the college students at UCC Oregon, those killed, injured, and all the rest of the students and faculty, as well as all of their loved ones and families, in your daily prayers.
Our Prayers are with the victims of the shooting at UCC Oregon,  as well as with their families.  Please pray for them!

October 2015: Archdiocese Youth Month

Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries, with Special Olympics coachesFr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Dept. of Youth and Parish Ministries, with Special Olympics coachesOctober 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, selected by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, is "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

Registration is Open for OCF Winter College Conferences

The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) College Conferences 2015 will be held from December 28-31st at both the Antiochian Village in PA, and St. Nicholas Ranch in CA. The Keynote Speakers are Rev. Fr. Apostolos Hill (West) and Sr. Vassa Larin (East). Registration is now open for the conferences. In 2015, $100.00 scholarships are being offered to those students in need.

College Conference
College Conference East 2015
College Conference West 2015
Scholarship Application

Congratulations, Francis Maria Scholarship Winners!

Scholarship winner Justine Younes, SOYO President of the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New YorkScholarship winner Justine Younes, SOYO President of the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New YorkOn behalf of Metropolitan Joseph, SOYO, and the Department of Youth & Parish Ministries, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura announces the winners of the 2015 Francis Maria Scholarship recipients.

Each of the following people were awarded a scholarship in the amount of $2,500, on July 25, 2015 at the Archdiocese Convention in Boston. Congratulations!

2015 Francis Maria Scholarship Winners

Elizabeth Waters
Thomas Joseph Perry
Mary Catherine Huneycutt
Layla Najjar
Steven Andrew Pisarchuk
Nicole Nassif
Anastasia Trenham
Natalie Saliba
Justine Younes
Emily Webster
Gabriel Z Smith

Get Ready for the Church School Year! Christian Ed Materials and Order Form Now Available for Download

The updated Christian Education Materials and Order Form is available from the Antiochian Archdiocese Publications Center, now managed by the Antiochian Village Bookstore.

Resources are listed for students from preschool ages all the way through high school. There are also supplementary materials, resources for youth work, adult education study texts, catechism materials, and a selection of Bibles. Be sure to see the revised Billing and Shipping/Handling sections of the Order Form.

SOYO Vice President Munir Pavez Reports on Ministry Trip

Munir Pavez (back row, left) and other team members in the IOCC Serv-X-treme service groupMunir Pavez (back row, left) and other team members in the IOCC Serv-X-treme service groupMunir Pavez is the son of Fr. Michael and Khouriya Mireille of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Beaumont, TX. As President of the Diocese of Wichita's SOYO, and Vice President of the NAC SOYO, he recently participated in a youth service conference sponsored by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). After this week of ministry, Munir wrote this report for Bishop Basil.

 Your Grace Bishop Basil: Master, bless.

Blessed Feast of the Transfiguration! I also hope that the end of the Dormition fast continues to be fruitful and blessed. It was great seeing you at the Archdiocesan Convention a few weeks ago! I would just like to tell you a little bit about my trip to Minneapolis last week for the IOCC Serv-X-treme Conference. As you probably know, this was a pan-Orthodox leadership/service conference for high school seniors that, by your blessing and delegation, I was so fortunate to attend. Going in, I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect. I had no idea that the next seven days would be some of the most amazing and fruitful of my life.

Throughout the week, we had many speakers come talk to us about various topics such as suffering, compassion, charity, and Orthodox unity, just to name a few. However, the main focus of the week was service. Every day the group of 26 teens would complete at least one or two service projects.

Assembly of Bishops to Host September Youth Gathering in Conjunction with Chicago Meeting

His Grace Bishop Thomas, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland & the Mid-Atlantic, writes:

A Youth Gathering will take place on Tuesday September 15, 2015, during the Assembly of Bishops Meeting in Chicago. Please pass the word – All young people are invited.

When: Tuesday evening, September 15, 2015
Where: Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral - 5701 North Redwood Drive - Chicago, IL 60631
Who:  High school and college students from the Greater Chicago area with the bishops of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox bishops of the United States
What:  A dialogue between our Orthodox youth and the bishops of the Assembly

As of now I believe there will be:

1. A service – led by the Assembly of Bishops
2. Perhaps a discussion with the youth prior to the service to gather questions and prepare them for the event and help them to get to know each other
3. A Question and Answer period with a panel of bishops and the high school and college students
4. Food to follow

Please get this news out, and bring your young people to this event.

Next Pan-Orthodox "Be the Bee" Youth Retreat is August 29 in Austin, TX

The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, encourages youth workers, parents, and young people to attend their nearest Pan-Orthodox "Be the Bee" Retreat. The retreats are starting in August 2015 and repeating each month in different locations throughout the United States, until May 2016.


Congratulations to 2015 Francis Maria Scholarship Recipients

Each of the following people were awarded a scholarship in the amount of $2,500, on July 25, 2015 at the Archdiocese Convention in Boston. For more information on the Francis Maria Scholarship program, please visit

Elizabeth Waters
Thomas Joseph Perry
Mary Catherine Huneycutt
Layla Najjar
Steven Andrew Pisarchuk
Nicole Nassif
Anastasia Trenham
Natalie Saliba
Justine Younes
Emily Webster
Gabriel Z Smith

Michigan SOYO Teens Participate in Pan-Orthodox Mission Outreach

The young members of our parish—the SOYO of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Livonia, MI—just returned from a trip that made history. We were all so blessed to participate, support, and watch this holy work take place!

On July 18, our twelve teens: Ibrahem Alrabady, Melissa Ansara, Celine Barghout, Pascal Barghout, Hani Kandalaft, Marisa Khamis, Joseph Nicolas, Michael Nicolas, Elena Saliba, Natalie Samaan, Katerena Sirhan, and Kaila Ziadeh, and two trip leaders, Christina Stavros and Michael Ansara, traveled four hours north on the first ever, 2015 SOYO Summer Mission Trip, to help "build up" the first Orthodox church in Traverse City, MI, the Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church. To our knowledge, this is the first mission trip, ever, in the history of our parish and, perhaps, the first time one mission parish has offered to help a mission parish in another Orthodox jurisdiction build their church.

New Report Looks at Orthodox Christian Fellowship's Collegiate Ministry

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America released a new study report today. The report focuses on Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), the official collegiate campus ministry program of the Assembly.

"The study was completed via surveying the students participating in 130 OCF chapters nationwide," notes the study's author, Assembly Research Coordinator Alexei D. Krindatch. "It offers solid insight into the lives of the Orthodox students on the campuses of US colleges and universities."

OCF plays a critical role in the lives of young Orthodox adults who study at US colleges and universities. Strong OCF chapters can provide a vital connection for youth to the Orthodox Church and stem the tide of students who leave the Orthodox Faith while in college. Key questions were asked: What types of challenges do OCF chapters face? What are their needs? What does it take to be a successful and vibrant OCF chapter? The report answers these and other questions from the viewpoints of active student OCF leaders.

Read the full report here.
Access summaries and links to all of the Assembly's research reports here.

Ready, Set, Go! Village Kicks off First Camp Session

Staff training week at the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA, is complete, and Session One has started! Meet the 2015 summer staff on the Village's website. 

The Village's Facebook page reported on Day One this way:

Three words to describe Monday's weather: hot, humid, and rainy. But such could not dull the spirit of our campers, as they were active as ever. We started off the morning with breakfast, giving everyone an extra hour to sleep in. This provided them with the energy they needed to remain attentive in their first sessions of morning program! Some attended "Ask Abouna," doing a Q & A with our lovely session priests, Abouna James King from St. Mary in Livonia, MI, and Fr. Noah Bushelli from St. Philip in Souderton, PA. Our chanting cabins went to the Conference Center for their morning practice, and the rest of the campers were scattered about the camp, and the challenge course.

Sign up Today: Camp Season is Just Around the Corner!

One of the best opportunities for children to grow spiritually and in friendship, is through summer camp. In addition to Antiochian Village, there are seven outstanding regional camps in the Antiochian Archdiocese across the United States and Canada, serving hundreds of children throughout the summer. The Department of Camping explains that each program is overseen, "to insure that the highest safety guidelines are followed, a consistent program is presented at all of our camps, accreditation is maintained, and oversees the distribution of the Order of St. Ignatius Scholarships to each camp." (Find the list and more information here.)

Contact the The Order of Ignatius, your parish priest, or your diocese camp, to learn about scholarships.

New Scholarship Available for Youth Workers in House of Studies Youth Ministry Program

In an effort to educate Antiochian parish youth workers, the Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations (SOYO) is pleased to announce that with the blessing of Metropolitan Joseph, SOYO will award the first scholarships to Antiochian Archdiocese parish youth workers this fall, specifically for those registered in the St. Stephen Youth Ministry Concentration. The Scholarship Application and Policy statement are available online; the deadline to apply for the scholarship is July 31, 2015.

Currently the Scholarship Fund has $217,095.87 invested (as of April 30, 2015). Teen SOYO raised and gifted $200,000 to establish this Youth Worker Scholarship during the 2013 Archdiocese Convention.

Download the application here.
For a complete listing of scholarships, view our Scholarship page.

Reaching Our Young Adults: Fr. Joseph Purpura Interviewed on Ancient Faith Radio

May 1, 2015

On his Ancient Faith Radio podcast, "Becoming a Healing Presence," host Dr. Albert Rossi recently interviewed Fr. Joseph Purpura, the Archdiocese's chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. The podcast, titled "Reaching Our Young Adults," discusses how to best communicate with and serve the Church's teens and young people.  

"In the Antiochian Archdiocese, we are serious about raising up a generation of disciples and leaders. Our goal in everything we do, is to move our young people closer and closer to Christ. It's always a joy to work with young people; the questions that they have are very deep and serious questions." 

He added, "My experience over the past 34 years of doing youth work, is that young people want to do what's right. We see our young people doing really beautiful things, in the name of Jesus Christ....I can't tell you the power, when an adult ask one of our kids to help. They need to know there is a purpose for them there (in the Church)."

Listen to the full podcast.

Department of Youth and SOYO Launch Improved Donation Portal

Fr Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, writes:

Christ is Risen!

The Department of Youth and NAC SOYO have implemented a new donation page that now gives donors the opportunity to select the area of youth ministry they want their donation to be applied.

Donate securely online today to the following ministries:
General Fund (for youth projects)
Department of Youth Ministry
Healthy Youth Program
SOYO Leadership Conference
SOYO Metropolitan PHILIP Youth Worker Scholarship
SOYO Special Olympics
Teen SOYO General Account

Utilize our secure online donation page through the Antiochian Events hosting service.

May our Risen Lord continue to bless all of your good works!

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Joseph
Twitter: @FrPurpura

Youth Ministry Leaders Meet with Metropolitan Joseph

L to R: Fr. Joseph Purpura, Sandy Mitchell, Fr. Noah Bushelli, Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas Zain, Khalil Samara, Metropolitan Joseph, Fr. Anthony Yazge, Carole BulezaL to R: Fr. Joseph Purpura, Sandy Mitchell, Fr. Noah Bushelli, Bishop Nicholas, Fr. Thomas Zain, Khalil Samara, Metropolitan Joseph, Fr. Anthony Yazge, Carole BulezaOn Tuesday, April 21, 2015, Metropolitan Joseph convened a meeting at the Archdiocese Headquarters in Englewood, NJ, with all of the Antiochian Archdiocese Youth Ministry leaders.

In attendance were:
V. Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura – Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry
V. Rev. Fr. Anthony Yazge – Chair of the Department of Camping and Director of College Ministry
V. Rev. Fr. Noah Bushelli – representing home school parents
Carole Buleza – Director of the Department of Christian Education
Khalil Samara – Fellowship of St. John the Divine (Young Adult Ministry)
V. Rev. Thomas Zain – Spiritual Advisor of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine
Sandy Mitchell – representing Antiochian Orthodox parochial schools

His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn, NY, also joined the group for lunch.

His Eminence set forth his vision for youth ministry in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and called all of those in attendance at the meeting to start working together in their efforts to form the youth of the Archdiocese. He also stressed the importance of increasing our efforts to form our youth in Christ.

"It's time to renew our efforts, not to abolish what has been done," he said. "We must build upon what we have received, what has been delivered to us....We have a great task before us to improve these ministries to our young people across the Archdiocese. It is the right time for change and improvement.

"We cannot bury our talents," he concluded.

Applications Being Accepted for Summer Music Institute for Youth: July 9-12

Chris Farha, the Diocesan Sacred Music Coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America writes:

This will be our fourth year for Youth Music Ministry at the Department of Sacred Music's summer Sacred Music Institute. Each year, the numbers grow but every year the students walk away changed, inspired and better equipped to serve their churches with a heightened awareness, more knowledge about the hymnography of the Church and a better skill set with which to vocally execute the music of the Church. They establish deep friendships with their peers who are of like mind and cultivate those friendships throughout the year. It is a wonderful program that I also feel blessed to participate in and hope that you might help promote it in your parishes.

Department of College Ministry Alert: Sign up Collegians for OCF's First Forty Days Program

Father Anthony Yazge, Chair of the Department of College Ministry, reminds all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni about OCF's First Forty Days program.

Christina Andresen, OCF's manager of Chapter Relations, writes: "It is imperative that we personally contact every first-year Orthodox college student so that they know that an Orthodox family awaits them on campus. This initiative, called the First Forty Days, has our local OCF student leaders, spiritual advisors, and lay coordinators introducing themselves to all incoming students, making sure that they know about Orthodoxy on campus and nearby Orthodox parishes.

We are asking that each parish provide us with basic information about their high school graduates who will be attending college in the fall.

2015 SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarship is Available

Presenting the check for the Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker ScholarshipPresenting the check for the Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker ScholarshipWith the blessing of Metropolitan Joseph, NAC SOYO announces that the application for the 2015 SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarship is now available.

Download 2015 Application Form (PDF)
Due Date: September 15, 2015

Requirements for Eligibility

The following are the requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for the Youth Worker Scholarship.

  • The applicant must have been an active member of an Antiochian parish for at least the last five years.
  • The applicant must be active in youth work.
  • The applicant agrees to enroll in a recognized Orthodox Christian program with a youth ministry focus or component; programs such as the St. Stephen's Youth Ministry Concentration of the Antiochian House of Studies.
  • The recipient will seek direction from the Chairman of the Archdiocese Department of Youth as to which institution is available for training.
  • The applicant is willing to make a minimum three year commitment to parish youth work in the Antiochian Archdiocese either as a volunteer or on a paid basis, but only following completion of the program [EC1] .

Youth Workers Meet at Antiochian Village, Announce New Events

Youth workers representing Orthodox jurisdictions from across the country met at Antiochian Village on January 22, 2015, and are excited to announce a new series of unprecedented, inter-jurisdictional "Be the Bee" themed events. "Be the Bee" is a popular weekly video podcast hosted by Steven Christoforou, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's Youth Protection/Parish Ministries Coordinator.

Orthodox youth and young adults are invited to a series of monthly, day-long retreats. Each month, from August 2015 to May 2016, "Be the Bee" will be visiting a different city across the United States, offering Orthodox youth an opportunity to worship, learn, and have fun together. Retreats will also offer programs for young adults, parents, and youth workers. For more information, please contact the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese at

Additionally, Orthodox teens and parents are also invited to a "Be the Bee" retreat Veteran's Day weekend next year, November 11-13, 2016. It will be held at Camp Nazareth, in the Pittsburgh area, and will offer a unique, multi-day "Be the Bee" experience. For more information, please contact

Youth workers are also invited to next year's Orthodox Youth Workers and Camp Conference, to be held January 28-30, 2016. For more information, please contact the Orthodox Church in America's Chair for the Department of Youth, Youth Adult, and Campus Ministry, Andrew Boyd, at

February 8 is National Scout Sunday

The Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting, an endorsed agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, released the following letter announcing this year's annual recognition of Scouting programs.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

On Sunday, February 8, 2015, Scouts all over the United States will celebrate National Scout Sunday. Scout Sunday is an annual event among all faiths which recognize the good work that is done by Scouts in our religious communities. The observance of Scout Sunday tradition was started years ago to make people in the church aware of Scouting, and to allow Scouts to live out of what is pledged each week, The Scout Law says that a "Scout is Reverent" and the Scouts of all ages promise to do their "Duty to God". These values strengthen youth character in their family, community and faith. That is why this Sunday is set aside to honor God and to remind us that we are all His Creatures and made in His Image or more precisely - to image (reflect) Him to the world.

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishop of the Americas has designated this also as Orthodox Scout Sunday. Through the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting [EOCS], the Assembly and its predecessor, SCOBA, have been actively supporting both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the USA since the 1960's.