At the 2009 Archdiocese Convention  in Palm Desert, attendees were treated to the excellent speeches prepared by the diocesan oratorical festival winners. An expert panel of judges deliberated before choosing the grand prize winner for the Senior Division, Joel Schaefer.
The Oratorical Festival  is a program sponsored by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine . It was designed to serve as an avenue for our youth to learn, enhance and share the knowledge of their faith based on a given topic by giving an oration. For some youth, it is a door into the life of the Church, and for others, it is an expression of their continuing experience of Christ and His Church.
At the diocesan level, youth from every parish in our Archdiocese may participate in the Oratorical Festival held at their parish life conference. Depending on their age, they compete in either the Junior Division (ages 13-15) or the Senior Division (ages 16-19). A panel of judges, which is made up of two professionals and one Orthodox priest, evaluates each orator based on their perspective criteria. It is the judge’s choice of the Senior Division that goes on to compete at the Archdiocesan level either at the Convention or in the non-Convention year, during Mid-summer meetings at the Antiochian Village. Therefore, there are 7 representatives at the Archdiocesan Oratorical Festival, one from every diocese. At this level, the six runners up receive a $500 scholarship generously donated by Mr. & Mrs. Robert Laham of St. George Church in Boston. The Judge’s Choice receives a $1000 scholarship, personally offered by our Beloved Metropolitan Philip.
The topic is based on the yearly theme of the Parish Life Conferences/Archdiocese Convention and is determined in conjunction with the Department of Youth. The topic chosen for this past year was “Be mindful, O Lord, of those who bear fruit, and do good works in Thy holy Churches, and who remember the poor” from the Anaphora of Ss. John Chrysostom and Basil the Great.
Next year, we look forward to hearing orations from our youth on the topic, “The earth is the Lord’s and its fullness. The world and all who dwell therein” from Psalm 23(24):1. For additional information on the Oratorical Festival, please go to www.antiochian.org/Festivals .