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Sacred Gift of Life Sunday

January 20, 2013, is the Sunday that precedes the 40th anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court Decision of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. This Supreme Court decision overturned all moral and logical reasoning that most citizens of our society held and practiced. Since 1973, over 43 million lives have been aborted. Approximately 93% of the women who have had abortions cited they did so for social reasons (i.e. unready for responsibility, can’t afford the baby, concern over how baby would change her life, etc) as opposed to issues regarding the mother’s health, the baby’s health, rape or incest. These few facts are very alarming for us as Orthodox Christians who hold all life as sacred and holy.

The teens of our archdiocese are very concerned about this issue and desire to do whatever is in their ability to help bring about change that leads to godliness and holiness. The members of the North American Council (NAC) of SOYO, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, are leading our Archdiocese in observing the “Sacred Gift of Life Sunday: Protecting the Life of the Unborn”. Our teens, as part of the celebration of January as Orthodox Education Month, are furthering their education, understanding and commitment regarding the Orthodox Church’s teaching on the sacred gift of life and abortion. In turn, they are helping to bring a greater awareness to the faithful of our parishes and throughout their local communities.

The teens are mailing to every Antiochian Archdiocese parish a packet of resource materials linked below.

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
frjoseph@orthodoxyouth.com
Twitter: @FrPurpura

2015-2016 SOYO Officers Elected at Archdiocese Convention in Boston

SOYO with Patriarch John X and Metropolitan JosephSOYO with Patriarch John X and Metropolitan JosephThe following NAC SOYO Officers were elected for 2015-2016 terms at the recent Archdiocese Convention in Boston:

President: Kamal N. Hourani - from the Diocese of Worcester and New England - President@TeenSOYO.org
Vice-President: Munir Pavez - from the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America - Vice-President@TeenSOYO.org
Secretary: Rebekah Bandy - from the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast - Secretary@TeenSOYO.org
Treasurer: Gianmarco Petrelli - from the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest - Treasurer@TeenSOYO.org

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

Special Olympics Awareness Day: Sunday, October 18

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.

A Lenten Opportunity: 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

SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarships Awarded to Six People

Our youth are our future: the Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker ScholarshipsOur youth are our future: the Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker ScholarshipsWith the blessing of Metropolitan Joseph, the first six SOYO Metropolitan Philip Youth Worker Scholarships have been awarded to the following six people, each in the amount of $800, for the 2015-2016 Academic year. Five of the six recipients are studying in the St. Stephens Youth Ministry Concentration working towards a Master Degree in Applied Orthodox Theology with a concentration in Youth Ministry (more information available here) and oneGregory Abdalahis working on his Doctor of Ministry Degree at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

All six of these recipients are members of a parish in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America and all of them are currently doing youth ministry work on the parish and or diocesan level.

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 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.

We Need YOUR HELP!

Teen SOYO 40th Anniversary Video Released on YouTube

Fr. Joseph Purpura, Archdiocese Youth Director, has released via YouTube this special Teen SOYO 40th Anniversary video commemorating the forty years of raising up generations of disciples and leaders for the Holy Orthodox Church in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Click here to go to the YouTube page for this video, and click here for Fr. Joseph's article from The Word commemorating this important occasion.

Youth Month Spotlight: Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY)

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.