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.
The first table in the Special Olympics 2011 Donations pdf shows those parishes and individuals that have contributed to NAC SOYO’s 2012 Special Olympics Ministry through the October 16, 2011 collection. We thank all of you for your generosity. Is your parish among them? Refer to this list to find out.
The second table shows those parishes that have yet to send in their contributions and we ask that you help us meet our $2,000 shortfall by sending in your contribution for the money collected, or if you did not take the requested collection, please consider a donation to help this ministry.
Do you know a young person in your parish who you think would be a particularly effective and dynamic Special Olympics Coach? Please refer them to the following application, or have them contact:
V. Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura
Department of Youth Ministry
By V. Rev. Fr. David J. Randolph
From the Word magazine, January, 2012
The term postmodern culture is used in many different ways, and cannot be grasped except in contrast to its predecessor, modernism, to which it is in reaction. Modernism displayed a high level of confidence in the abilities of humanity. Rooted in the Enlightenment, modernists attempted to rid themselves of the mystery of religion and things spiritual so as to focus purely on the empirical facts of science. Some believed that humanity could build a perfect society founded on human principles and structures. The movement was idealistic, and its breakdown was painful to the generation that experienced it.
This reaction took different forms. For many people of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, pop culture became a kind of rebellious religiosity. Many were from broken families, and they concluded that all commitments are fragile. Some also experimented with different “spiritualities,” having a distinct distaste for “institutional religion.” Theirs was a time of political turmoil, growing up amid the anxiety of the cold war, and through the period of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the war in Iraq. The results for many were confusion, depression, and loneliness.
Postmodernism is the cultural reaction to the perceived failures of modernism. Youth ministers today face five challenges related to the postmodern stance.
First, postmodern young people give primacy to personal experience.
A rare opportunity for Orthodox teens has been presented to Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth Ministries for the Antiochian Archdiocese. (Download the letter of invitation.)
Liz Fallin, a parishioner at St. Paul Antiochian Church in Lynnwood, WA, is involved in Pan-Orthodox Scouting in the Seattle area and is an Advisor to a Venture Crew, a coed organization for teens ages 14-20. Liz has alerted Fr. Joseph to openings for a 2013 backpacking trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico, the premiere Scout facility in the country--if not the world. Philmont has over 136,000 acres of mountains, and offers 11-day backpacking treks to Scouts and Venturers from around the country. Philmont Treks are so popular that there is a lottery every year for groups who want to go, and only about half of those who enter the lottery are selected.
Recently, Liz's Orthodox Scouting group was selected for an August 2013 trek. Notes Liz, "Because we have a handful of extra slots available, we would like to open this trek up to young men and women ages 14-20, and interested adults.
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Board of Directors held its fall meeting Dec. 1-2 at the new North American Office, headquartered at Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts.
A major focus of the meeting was a proposed restructuring of the chaplain and student leadership structure of OCF. OCF's North American Chaplain, Fr. Michael Nasser explained,
"Recognizing a need for enhanced communication and support between the local chapters of OCF and the North American Office, we are developing a new tiered structure that will facilitate a more effective ministry to college students. The new vision utilizes students, clergy chaplains, lay coordinators, and college faculty on district and regional levels to implement OCF resources and programs, which in turn will strengthen the efforts of the local chapters."
Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chair of the Department of Youth Ministry, reports that through the diligent efforts of SOYO members, nearly $33,000.00 has been collected since October for the Special Olympics Sports Camp at Antiochian Village. Every summer, hundreds of Special Olympic campers and SOYO counselors convene for a unique week of activity and growth.
Fr. Joseph notes, "We are very grateful to the many parishes that have contributed to the NAC SOYO / PASO Special Olympics. Browse the list of contributions here.
We are preparing topics for the 2012 Antiochian Archdiocese Clergy Symposium and we want your input. We want to know what you see as the three Greatest Problems Facing Teens Today.
Help us pick the topics for the 2012 Clergy Symposium! Go here and answer three questions: What is the first, second, and third most important issue facing teens today?
Your Responses are private and will be very valuable in helping us choose topics for the Clergy Symposium.
Thank you for your help.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Joseph Purpura
Chairman Department of Youth Ministry
Programming on OCN's flagship program, "Come Receive the Light," features:
Twilight Saga - Launching this month's theme on morality and popular culture, we'll be looking at the popular Twilight Saga with Fr. Frank Marangos and asking about the relationship between the Church and secular media trends. Click here to listen to this program.
Video Games - This past June, on the very last day of its 2011 term, the US Supreme Court ruled that minors have a right to purchase video games that include graphic violence. Fr. Demetrios Tonias shares his thoughts on what this means for youth and parents. Click here to listen to this program.
Almost Christian - One study after another tells us that our youth are drifting away from religious traditions, but what can we do to reverse the trend? First, we’ll hear from Kenda Creasy Dean, Associate Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. What does it mean to be Almost Christian, the title of her new book? Make sure you listen to this important interview. Click here to listen to this program.
Asks Fr. Chris, "Is there a difference between being 'good' and being 'moral?' Popular culture seems to cast a wide net on what it means to be a 'good person.' It goes a step further by suggesting that some things we as Orthodox consider to be unhealthy are actually what make a person 'normal.'"
A historic January 2012 Orthodox Christian Youth Worker Conference, endorsed by the Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, is planned for all Youth Workers, Camp Directors and Staff, and OCF Chaplains. The conference runs from Wednesday January 25 to Saturday January 28, 2012 at the Antiochian Village Conference Center and will be hosted by the Departments of Youth Ministry and of Camping of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
From Sunday, December 18 through Wednesday, December 21, St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS) will be offering high school and college students an opportunity to spend four days on its Crestwood, NY campus, learning and directing liturgical music and meeting and worshipping with young men and women from across North America. Attendees will also enjoy a trip to New York City to ice skate on the famous rinks of the Big Apple, and will form a chorus to sing Christmas Carols in the neighborhood surrounding SVS.
Instructors for the workshop are Professor David Drillock, SVS' Professor Emeritus of Liturgical Music, and Dr. Nicholas Reeves, the Seminary's current Assistant Professor of Liturgical Music. Workshop organizer, Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Director of Alumni Relations and Recruitment, notes, "We hope to provide a workshop with diverse influence and instruction, including Byzantine chant."
For more information, contact Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 914-318-7505.
The cost of the workshop will be $180, all inclusive. Register here.
Since October is Youth Month in the Antiochian Archdiocese, the editors at antiochian.org caught up with Fr. Anthony Yazge, who heads up the College Department for the Archdiocese, as well as the camping program at Antiochian Village. (Read this 2006 Word interview with Fr. Anthony and browse his Ask Abouna column.)
Fr. Anthony has been serving teens, college students and campers since 1981, and after thirty years he still approaches his ministry with dedication and enthusiasm.
1. How many years have you been working in youth ministries, and what kind of roles have you filled?
I basically went from my teenage years to being involved in youth ministry. As a seminarian I was involved in planning and leading teen retreats. A few years after ordination, I was appointed as the Midwest Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor and served in that position for fourteen years before being appointed as the NAC Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor for the last six years. As the Spiritual Advisor of Teen SOYO, I participated with our teens in many outreach projects over twenty years. In 2001 I was assigned to be priest in charge of Teen SOYO’s Special Olympics Camp and am currently still part of this ministry.
In addition to serving as a Spiritual Advisor for Teen SOYO the past twenty years, I have served the Antiochian Village for many years. I was a camp counselor in 1981 and was a session priest for thirteen years prior to my current assignment as Camp Director in 2006. I have also led a team of teens on a short term mission trip to Project Mexico.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship has announced the topic, locations, and speakers for its popular winter college conferences. Themed "Raise Me Above This World's Confusion," this year's conferences will be hosted in three locations, after Christmas and before New Year's Day: Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania, Diokonia Retreat Center in South Carolina, and St. Nicholas Ranch in northern California.
Registration is open at the OCF's website page here.
College Conference East
Dates: December 28-31
Place: Antiochian Village -Bolivar, PA
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $240 - Regular: $265
Speaker: His Grace Bishop Michael Dahulich, Bishop of New York and the Diocese of New York & New Jersey in the Orthodox Church in America
College Conference South
Dates: December 28-31
Place: Diakonia Center -Salem, NC
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $210 - Regular: $235
Speaker: Fr. Michael Nasser, Pastor of Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission in Bowling Green, Ky.
College Conference West
Dates: December 27-30
Place: St. Nicholas Ranch -Fresno, CA
Earlybird rate until Dec. 15: $215 - Regular: $240
Speaker: Fr. Josiah Trenham, Pastor of St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Riverside, Calif.
Dear Brother in Christ:
Christ is in our midst!
The third Sunday of October, October 16, 2011 is Special Olympics Awareness Day (SOAD) across our Archdiocese.
On Sunday, October 16th, your teen group, or if you have none, your designated representatives, are asked to seek the financial help of your parishioners in funding the 2012 Special Olympics Sports Camp to be held at the Antiochian Village August 10-18, 2012. Next summer we will be celebrating our 31st Annual Special Olympics Sports Camp. This ministry is 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.
We Need YOUR HELP!
1. Please publicize this day. We have enclosed two bulletin inserts, one for October 9th and the other for October 16th. Please include these inserts in your bulletin and share this cause from the pulpit. Your enthusiastic promotion of such a worthwhile ministry will go a long way in producing fruitful results from our faithful.
“For all of us who doubt the strength of our faith; for all of us who are not called to be eaten by lions, or thrown into a fiery furnace; for all of us who are not called to die for our faith; those holy apostles, those twelve men, they knew the one thing we would need most, our life-preserver in a sea of trouble, our sanctuary from those who tempt us, our teacher to help guide our course: those amazing, gifted men of the priestly ranks.”
I am so grateful that I was born into the Orthodox faith. There are so many people who wander about in this world with no sense of purpose or belonging, but never an Orthodox Christian. Every Orthodox Christian knows exactly why they are here. In God’s plan, He made all of us, male and female, in His image. And the purpose of our life is to see the image of God in ourselves and in everyone around us. In my most recent understanding, I am not merely an Orthodox Christian because my parents thought I should be baptized. I am not merely an Orthodox Christian because my family goes to church on Sunday mornings and other holidays. I am an Orthodox Christian because of the choices I make every single day. I didn’t get here by accident and I didn’t get here simply because I was born into a certain ethnicity. But I got here, at this point in my life, because of the people in my life. And while I will forever be grateful for my grandparents, and parents, and aunts, and uncles, and even my cousins, I am personally humbled by the relationships I have had with the men who have dared to wear that distinctive collar, who drop to their knees, and fight for me, like a man after God’s own heart.
The Christian Education team of the Antiochian Archdiocese, headed by Director Carole Buleza, is passionate about transmitting the faith to the next generation, and the resource-rich Christian Education section on antiochian.org reflects this. An extensive upgrade to the Christian Education pages launched to coincide with the start of the Sunday School year, includes an entirely new Creative Arts Festivals section developed by Editor Andrew Frishman.
Youth workers who want to integrate the creative festivals into their Christian Education program will find the revamped section useful both for Sunday School as well as SOYO events.
Highlights of the new material available are:
- Guidance for newcomers in "New to the Festivals?"
- "Summary of Modifications for the 2012 Festivals"
- Updated judging rubrics and lesson plans
- Suggestions for educators in "Using the Theme" and "Job Descriptions"
- Advice for students on "Inspiring Writing"
- Plus an improved sidebar for helpful navigation!
In the main Christian Education section, a book review highlights Christian Education in the Small Membership Church and registration is available for Orthodox Institute 2011, a pan-Orthodox event featuring an interactive Holy Land tour.
WESTWOOD, Massachusetts - The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY), Very Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Purpura and Kathleen A. Purpura announce the award of a five-year grant for its Greater Chicago Coalition. OCCHY – Cicero/Greater Chicago was awarded a $125,000 Drug Free Communities Support Program FY 2011 grant by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Coalition serves the Villages of Lincolnwood, Niles, and Skokie, IL, as well as the eighty-plus Orthodox parishes of the Greater Chicago area. ONDCP and SAMHSA offer the potential of an additional five-year extension of the grant. Under the excellent guidance of the Very Rev. Nicholas Dahdal, Pastor, the Grantee is St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Cicero, IL.
Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth is a national alliance founded by the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth, and Kathleen Purpura, Youth Consultant and Executive Director of OCCHY, trained with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), worked with the White House Director of Drug Free Communities and also the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The 2011 SOYO Leadership Manual is now available from the Department of Youth Ministry. These valuable manuals are packed with resources to help leaders of youth groups with all the details of managing the SOYO year and SOYO programs. They also provide space for each local SOYO to add in its materials.
Brookline, MA ––August 9, 2011— While many college campuses experience a calm and quiet summer, Hellenic College once again bustled with activity as the Office of Vocation & Ministry (OVM) welcomed high school juniors and seniors to its CrossRoad summer institute, now in its eighth year. The OVM greeted 60 high school juniors and seniors from 29 states as well as Canada and the Bahamas. Due to overwhelming interest from Orthodox youth and the generosity of several benefactors, this summer the program continued to offer two sessions. Beginning in 2004, CrossRoad has inspired hundreds of Orthodox youth to grow in their faith, explore their strengths, engage in serving others, and discover how their gifts and talents can serve the needs of Church and society.
The 2011 CrossRoad Summer Institute, directed by Mary Long, combined the greatest offerings of Hellenic College and Holy Cross: faculty instruction, an enthusiastic staff of graduate students, a beautiful campus overlooking Boston, and the exciting city of Boston itself. Students visited historic Faneuil Hall, the New England shore at Manchester-by-the-Sea, and cruised Boston harbor on a Duck Tour. The high school students enjoyed these fun and cultural activities, but found the unique elements of the program the most valuable: the daily classes with theological faculty, evening visits to attend vespers at neighboring Orthodox parishes in the Boston area, and putting their learning into practice by participating in two service activities during the last stage of the program.
Fr. Joseph Purpura, the Antiochian Archdiocese Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, has released his Convention report for 2011 here.
He reminds Convention-goers that the “Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth” (OCCHY) booth in the vendor area of the Convention will be offering materials free of charge for parents, clergy, teachers, teens and young adults. Read about OCCHY here or visit the Coalition for Healthy Youth website here.