October is the month to introduce teens to the many opportunities to minister in the Church. Teens are encouraged to read the Epistle, chant and sing in the choir, assist in church school, and give sermons approved by the priest.
Additionally, there are several committees that the national leadership of SOYO is promoting in 2012-2013. Dana Zawahri, NAC SOYO Unity Committee Coordinator explained, "A major one is the Unity Committee, established at the last Leadership Training in Chicago. This committee focuses on uniting teens from different Orthodox Christian jurisdictions. Each diocese was given a specific task this year to encourage the teens there to take part. The idea of unity itself has become a very popular subject among our teens. Myriam Zakaib, Treasurer of the Diocese of Ottawa, remarked, 'I think Orthodox unity is important because we are all here to serve Christ. We are all brothers and sisters in His name and we should be working together to serve Him. It does not matter whether you are Russian or Greek, or anything else: you are first an Orthodox Christian.'"
On October 9, 2012, Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) posted an interview with Carole Buleza, the Antiochian Archdiocese's director of the Department of Christian Education. In the interview, Mrs. Buleza and AFR Operations Manager Bobby Maddex discussed the 2012 Orthodox Institute, the pan-Othodox conference for educators and parish leaders, scheduled for November 1–4th at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
"Why did you choose this theme?" asked Mr. Maddex, referring to the Institute's title: "Culture. Morality. Spirituality. A conference to survey current cultural views, beliefs of the Church, and the challenges facing young people."
"We've had requests to have an entire conference dedicated to understanding moral issues, since the issues pervading our culture are seemingly not in keeping with the Orthodox faith," responded Mrs. Buleza. "We have to understand this culture we live in, and also, we can't appreciate the Orthodox stand on these issues without a real grasp and adherence to our spirituality. These moral challenges are facing our teens, but are also impacting all of us."
Carole explained why each speaker is uniquely qualified to address the issues faced by educators and families today, not the least of which is that each of the featured presenters are parents of teens, and thus are currently dealing in a very practical way with the issues that will be discussed at the Institute. She noted that topics such as social media, transgender issues and homosexuality, substance abuse, and effective communication with youth, will be addressed by the Institute's instructors.
"The Bible 'enchants our ears with birdsong.' It enchants us and delights us. It brings us peace, but it also instills awe. The Bible is filled with great deeds and acts of love. What is most delightful, however, is the fact that all these great deeds involve human beings, not superheroes. Whether through Noah building an ark or Moses leading a whole nation out of slavery, God is acting through people like us, people who have as great a potential to love as to sin."
These and other well-chosen words prompted this year's Oratorical Festival judges to award Peter Somi the 2012 Festival Judges' Choice Award. Peter hails from St. George Cathedral in Worcester (Diocese of Worcester and New England) and his full speech can be read here.
Esther Simbol, Bible Bowl Coordinator, writes that this year's Fellowship of St. John the Divine North American Council (NAC) Bible Bowl at Antiochian Village received rousing support from 300 campers, who cheered for their favorite teams. The Topic this year was St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, and all seven Dioceses were represented. This year’s winner was the team from St. Elias Cathedral, Ottawa, Ontario, representing the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upper State New York. The team consisted of Amanda Salibi, Maria Fakhouri and Milad Hamwi. Read about the theme and the participants in September's The Word.
Melinda Bentz, President of the Antiochian Women Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Diocese of Eagle River, reminds the faithful that this is the time of year to remember the Orthodox students who have settled into their studies at colleges all around the country. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) observes College Student Sunday on September 16, and this year the faithful in parishes are encouraged to make an extra effort to reach out to their collegians in their first forty days of school.
Melinda writes, "As mothers, sisters, wives, and God-mothers, we have been asked to help the OCF personally reach our incoming college freshmen. While at the summer meeting, we as Antiochian Women were presented with a request to help the OCF reach out to each Orthodox college freshman and invite them to their local parish, connect with the local OCF priest and solidify their commitment to their Orthodox faith during their college years."
The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, V. Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura has been creating and implementing youth training programs across the United States and Canada since the late 1980's. He has held numerous appointments over the years and is currently overseeing a number of programs, both established and new. Over the summer he coordinated SOYO Diocesan General Assemblies, elections, the Leadership Conference, Bible Bowl Festival, Oratorical Contest and Special Olympics Sports Camp. Antiochian.org asked him for an update as he looks to the Archdiocese's fall youth schedule.
1. What is the Healthy Youth Initiative? In general, can you update us on the progress of OCCHY (Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth)?
The Healthy Youth Initiative offers Orthodox Christian communities the opportunity to heighten awareness of substance abuse issues and to recognize and respect the sanctity of the human body. By developing local community networks, parish leaders are able to establish healthier living conditions for our youth. Local coalitions promote substance abuse solutions through policy change, environmental design modification and substance abuse prevention strategies.
The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth [OCCHY], a national alliance offering 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, recently established headquarters in Cicero, IL.
Founded by the Department of Youth Ministries of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, in conjunction with Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, OCCHY was awarded a five-year Drug Free Community matching grant of $125,000.00 per year, according to Archpriest Nicholas Dahdal, OCCHY Director.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Christmas in July? Absolutely! With joy, the Sacred Music Department hosted the 27th Annual Sacred Music Institute July 25-29 as the sounds of the Nativity resounded throughout the Antiochian Village’s Heritage and Learning Center. Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid- Atlantic, and one hundred participants from the United States and Canada, celebrated the Feast in song and chant through workshops, rehearsals and concerts. Sacred Music Chairman, Christopher Holwey added, “It was an inspiring and moving week for everyone involved.”
Event Chairman, Paul Jabara of St George, Montreal in Quebec, Canada, Sacred Music Coodinator of Los Angeles and the West, Mareena Boosamra Ball, and Diocese of Wichita and Mid America Music Coordinator, Chris Farha, coordinated the premiere of a Youth Music Ministry (YMM) program for 20 teens representing each Diocese. After completing an application and writing an essay, each Diocesan Music Coordinator selected qualified teen singers to participate in a pilot program funded by scholarships from Antiochian Hierarchs and individual donors. The teens chosen attended classes in vocal techniques, basic conducting, sight singing and music theory, taught by Los Angeles and the West Diocese Sacred Music Coordinator, Mareena Boosamra-Ball.
Brookline, MA (OCF)
Orthodox Christian Fellowship's Executive Director Jennifer Nahas writes:
I hope all of you are having a restful, but fun summer. We here at the North American office look forward to working with all of you to engage in fellowship, fun, service, and spiritual growth during the 2012-2013 school year.
To kick things off, your student leaders participated in a five day Summer Leadership Institute here at Hellenic College, the home of the North American Office. This year's Student Advisory Board is full of diversity, energy, and passion; they are from all over the country, from different schools and different Orthodox jurisdictions. Their jobs are to serve you by supporting local chapters and leading OCF's North American programs. Since chapter outreach is a high priority, I wouldn't be surprised if some of you have already heard from the regional representatives in your regions to find out what your chapter's plans are for the upcoming school year.
Update, 5/30/12: A small but important change has been made to the logos. Please download and use the currently attached versions. In addition, PDF versions are now available.
Color and black and white versions of the official logo for 2013 Parish Life Conferences are now available online:
The Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, is conducting a survey to better understand the needs and struggles of our young people today, particularly as it relates to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drugs. The survey is being taken at Parish Life Conferences as well as camps throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese.
Notes Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chair of the Department of Youth, "We are surveying youth in middle and high school. Those that have completed the fifth grade at a minimum will be eligible to participate.The goal of the survey is to help the Department of Youth and the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) to establish a baseline as well as provide direction for future programs and ministries."
The Department of Christian Education for the Antiochian Archdiocese has announced the details of the 2012 Orthodox Institute, to be held on November 1-4 at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA.
Open to Orthodox of all jurisdictions, the Institute is a continuing education event for teachers, parents, clergy, and youth workers who want to fellowship with others in ministry while also enriching their knowledge base.
The theme, "Culture. Morality. Spirituality. A conference to survey current cultural views, beliefs of the Church, and the challenges facing young people," will be reinforced throughout the weekend in panel discussions, teacher training seminars, and keynote presentations. Featured Presenters Dr. Vigen Guroian and Dr. Philip Mamalakis will join Keynote Speaker Dr. Peter Bouteneff in topics such as "Contemporary Culture and Religion" and "Orthodox Parenting Today."
The Diocese teens were blessed to have His Grace Bishop Anthony from the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest visit them in Fort Lauderdale during their Parish Life Conference starting June 13. Members of teen SOYO joined His Grace for a Teen Workshop on Saturday (6/16). SOYO captured the audio and key points from this workshop as well as the audio and key points from his keynote during the Grand Banquet Saturday evening, and audio from his sermon during Sunday's liturgy.
His Grace's words of wisdom included these thoughts:
Find pleasure in your purpose. If you pursue pleasure without purpose, your pleasure will become your pain. "Pursue your purpose, and you'll find your person."
Attach yourself to the church so you will be attracted to the right people and the right things.
Do your best at everything so you can find the one thing you are really good at. "That's how you find your balance and your bliss."
Brookline, MA - June 1, 2012. The North American OCF Office has launched an exciting new program to reach out to incoming first-year Orthodox college students at colleges and universities throughout North America, named The First Forty Days. As its name implies, during the first forty days of the 2012 fall semester, local OCF student leaders and chaplains will work to make personal contact with all new incoming students. They will be given information regarding the OCF chapter on campus and nearby Orthodox parishes. The intent of this program is to foster a personal connection with our students so that young college students will stay connected to Christ and His Church during their years in post-secondary education.
To accomplish this, OCF needs the help of all Orthodox Parishes in North America. In the coming weeks, OCF will be gathering the contact information of all incoming college freshman students in all of the Orthodox parishes across the continent. Each parish is asked to provide the North American OCF Office with some basic information concerning their high school graduates who will be attending college in the Fall on a downloadable spreadsheet, which is available here.
The Department of Youth and Parish Ministry and the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY) has announced the launch of their new website, www.HealthyYouth.com.
Additionally, Chairman Fr. Joseph Purpura of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry announced the start of the 2012-2013 Core Measures Survey, which has received the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip.
Noted Fr. Joseph, "The survey of our Orthodox Youth seeks to better understand the issues of alcohol and other drugs affecting our Orthodox Youth Population, so we may better serve and equip our young people and the adults who work alongside them. The survey was developed in light of guidelines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Similar surveys are administered to our children through the public school systems."
Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries for the Antiochian Archdiocese, is alerting high school students to the launching of a new scholarship program sponsored by The Reagan Foundation. The Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Debate Series, which will award $35,000 in scholarship funds to outstanding high school debate students across the nation, will begin in June. The Series is designed to provide an avenue for high school students across the country to develop their civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions as they research, discuss, and engage in public debate. This program is designed to align with and leverage the energy of Election 2012.
The competition will consist of three distinct rounds. First, local debates will take place on high school campuses nationwide between June and September of 2012. School champions will advance to regional championships held in September and October of 2012. Regional championships will be held at university campuses from east to west. Those champions will then be flown to the National Championship at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on October 27, 2012 and compete for $35,000 in scholarship awards.
For more information, visit the Antiochian Archdiocese's Scholarship page.
The following is a list of scholarships and deadlines:
Francis Maria Scholarship: May 15
Antiochian Women's Scholarship: June 1
My name is Nadia, and I am a thirteen year old Orthodox Christian. I have attended the St. George Norwood parish ever since I remember. This is my first year in Teen SOYO and the first year I traveled to New Hampshire for the annual Lenten Retreat. It was one of the most enlightening experiences I have had as an Orthodox Christian.
The retreat is an event that occurs each year during the Lenten season. Teens from parishes all over New England come together to bond with each other, listen to the speaker, reflect upon their faith, and strengthen themselves through worship and communion. This year we had the honor of having His Grace Bishop John amongst us throughout the weekend to guide us and answer our questions. This year’s speaker was Katrina Bitar, past SOYO member and director of the YES program speaking on the theme of “Heroes of the Old Testament.”
Anne Van Fossen writes: "Enrollment is now open for the fall session of the Classical Learning Resource Center! CLRC online classes are live, interactive, and available to anyone with internet access. You’ll find detailed course descriptions, faculty bios, class schedules, and more on the Classical Learning Resource Center website. We’ve expanded our Classical Greek and Latin program with more Latin 4 Kids classes and more advanced classes for middle school, high school, and adults. We’ve also added three new classes in Literature and Composition. Also, when you register you’ll find that we’ve installed a robust Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system on our website to streamline your registration process and improve student experience on our site.
We’ve had several requests for writing classes so I am thrilled to announce that we are adding Kiernan Schroeder, a talented and enthusiastic literature and composition teacher, to the CLRC faculty. If you haven’t done so already, take a look at her course offerings on our webpage at both the high school and middle school levels. She is offering an Introduction to Literature and Composition class for middle school and early high school students in which students will be exposed to authors like Dickens, Shakespeare, and Robert Louis Stevenson and receive instruction in the fundamentals of structure and style for argumentative writing.
Youth Equipped to Serve (YES), a ministry of FOCUS North America, hosted a YES Weekend in Oklahoma City on March 9-11, and now is kicking off another weekend of service in the city of St. Louis starting March 30. As the website explains, the YES program "provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service, with the ultimate purpose being to raise up a generation of Orthodox Christians who lead others in living out the true mission of the church- to love and serve our most needy neighbors."
The St. Louis weekend is a good example of a typical YES trip. Teens will meet at the local FOCUS Center--Gateway City/St. Michael’s--on Friday, stay overnight at Huckleberry Finn Youth Hostel, participate in service events throughout the weekend, and finish the trip by serving a meal for the homeless back at the FOCUS location.
Upcoming events include YES Atlanta on April 20-22, YES Grand Rapids on May 11-13, and YES Leadership Training on June 13-18 in Los Angeles' Skid Row.
Antiochian Village's website reports, "Unbelievable! We are quickly closing in on 1,000 campers and CITs registered for this summer's camping season! That's unheard of, or at least surprising this early in the spring. You must have heard about the terrific staff we are hiring.
In a few weeks, we will be introducing our staff to the world. In the meantime, if you have not registered, you might be able to find a space or two in a few sessions--check availability here. Also in the works is a brand new cabin 11 & 12 located between cabins 5 & 6 and the Health Center. If all goes well it should be ready by the first session and possibly even in time for Family Camp. This summer is going to be unbelievable."
Don't miss out, register today!
Donate your U.S. Airways Miles to the Department of Youth Ministry! Donated miles facilitate travel for our Archdiocese youth workers, Teen SOYO officers and others. The cost to donate miles is your miles plus $0.01 per mile donated and a processing fee. Or you can donate money towards travel using the donate button located at the top right of our Department of Youth and Teen SOYO pages. If you want the miles to go towards Teen SOYO officers, Advisors, or Youth Director Travel, simply state so in the personal massage field of your donation.
The Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America held its semi-annual meeting on January 24th and 25th, 2012. The meeting convened at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center, Bolivar, PA, in conjunction with the Committee for Youth’s Consultants Meeting and was followed by the annual Camp and Youth Worker Conference (January 25-28, 2012).
On Sunday, February 5, 2012, Scouts all over the United States will celebrate Scout Sunday, and as such, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has simultaneously designated the day as Orthodox Scout Sunday. Scouts will wear their uniforms to their local parishes, as a visible sign of their membership both to the Scouting program and to the Orthodox Church.
Through the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting, the Assembly and its predecessor, SCOBA, have actively supported Boy and Girl Scouts of the USA since the 1960's.
Orthodox Scouts can earn one of three age-appropriate awards: St. George for the youngest children, Chi-Rho for the middle years, and Alpha Omega for the oldest Scouts.
Brookline, MA—Hellenic College Holy Cross, the oldest and largest Christian Orthodox institution for higher learning in North America, invites Orthodox Christian students from the United States and Canada to take part in a summer vocation exploration program that integrates faith, learning, and service. In its ninth year, the CrossRoad summer institute has proven to be a successful program preparing teens for leadership in the Church and in their communities.
One of the vibrant programs of HCHC’s Office of Vocation & Ministry (OVM), CrossRoad offers participants access to HCHC’s distinguished faculty instruction and enthusiastic graduate students who serve as staff. Since the program is on HCHC campus, participants experience the beautiful campus that is within minutes of Boston.
In addition to participating in theology classes, CrossRoad students attend Vespers each evening at neighboring parishes in the Boston area and engage in community service.