Diocesan Youth Sojourn Underway

August 26, 2006

MERCER, PA - A historic first in the diocese is presently underway this weekend at Camp Nazareth. Organized and hosted by the Diocesan Apostolate for Youth, the Youth Sojourn Retreat has attracted more than 50 of our diocesan youth from across the diocese.

The Diocesan Apostolate for Youth was established by Metropolitan Nicholas to meet the spiritual needs of our diocesan youth, providing guidance to their pastors, parish workers and parents who are entrusted with their care. The mission of the Diocesan Apostolate for youth is to evangelize our youth, and encourage their active participation in the life of the Church.

The Youth Sojourn which began Friday evening and continues tommorow in concert with the Annual Pilgrimage in Honor of the Dormition of the Theotokos, marks the first visible outreach of the newly established Apostolate, in addition to the publication of a youth oriented newsletter Daylight.

Thus far, judged by the enthusiastic participation of the youth and the favorable feedback from the many parents who were also in attendance, the Sojourn has exceeded the expectations of its organizers.

In particular, the youth, who were entrusted with the singing of the responses to Vespers on Friday and Saturday Evening and Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, showed a great degree of spiritual maturity, and a keen interest in the inner spiritual life of the Church. The singing of these services was truly spirit filled and moving to the many adults in attendance, for certainly their beautiful voices were mystically joined with the angels, who continually sing the eternal Liturgy at the Throne of God in Heaven.

Following Vespers this evening, the young men and women attended camp fire discussions on the vocation of men and women in the Church. Speaking at the young women's campfire, were two female monastics from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in nearby Ellwood City, PA. Frs. Kenneth Bachofsky, Mark Leasure and Miles Zdinak, spoke to the young men regarding the vocation of the Holy Priesthood. The discussions from the young men and women reflected a serious desire on their part to be faithful to the Orthodox Christian understanding of one's life being a sacred pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God .

The Youth Sojourn, while but a most humble beginning to a new and sacred ministry in our diocese, should cause all within our God-saved diocese to rejoice.  We have learned that perhaps in the past we may have underestimated the talents, abilities and keen interest of youth in the Orthodox Spiritual Life. We pray that through the humble efforts of the Diocesan Apostolate for Youth, the precious "little ones" that the Lord has entrusted to our care may be inspired to grow in the Grace and Love of God.

Please watch our diocesan website within the next 48 hours for photogalleries and further commentary on the Youth Sojourn.