Fr. Joseph Purpura's report to the Antiochian Archdiocesan Board, presented to the Board on June 4, 2011, highlighted several areas of progress for the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries .
Regarding the fledgling Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth, Fr. Joseph explained that "Our work and travels this year led us to our May meeting at the White House, with the White House Director of Drug Free Communities, Jack Claypoole. We continue to receive good support in our efforts to reduce substance use and abuse among our Orthodox Population from both the White House Office of Drug Free Communities and from General Arthur Dean of CADCA and his staff." Fr. Joseph and Kh. Kathleen will have completed 120 hours of Drug Free Communities training by July. Coalition members from the Cicero and Cleveland Coalitions have also begun training, and Father and Khouria have been working to establish additional Parish Coalitions. Fr. Joseph noted, "We will continue our efforts to reach out to other dioceses to establish additional coalitions to address the issues of substance use and abuse by our youth and encourage respect for the sanctity of the human body. We also are in the process of re-designing our Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth website . On Wednesday morning of the Archdiocese Convention, the Department will host a workshop for all those involved in the coalitions or those who are interested in more information.
Other highlights from the Department of Youth report:
- The Assembly of Bishops' Committee for Youth, chaired by His Grace Bishop Thomas, has "catalogued a directory of Diocesan Youth Directors across the Assembly, begun compiling a catalogue of the youth organizations and programs across the Assembly in the United States, and developed additional materials to work towards greater cooperation across the various Youth Ministries of the Assembly."Plans are in the works for a 2012 Orthodox Camp and Youth Worker Conference, to be hosted by the Antiochian Archdiocese Departments of Youth and Camping at the Antiochian Village January 24-28, 2012.
- Fr. Joseph attended a national conference of leading youth specialists from the various Christian Denominations, particularly Roman Catholic and Protestant. As a result, he was invited to serve on the launch committee, which will be developing a National Charter for Youth Ministry.
- The Department is compiling and printing the 5th addition of the SOYO Leadership Binder which will be distributed to the NAC and Diocesan Officers and Advisors at the SOYO Leadership Conference, for use in these seminars and for practical use at diocesan SOYO meetings. If funds are available the Department will also produce the 2011 SOYO Leadership Binder in DVD data format to be distributed to all Parish Teen Presidents, Advisors and Clergy. Plans are well underway for the sixth SOYO Leadership Conference to be held from Sunday to Wednesday of the Archdiocese Convention – July 24 - 27, 2011.
- Referring to the Special Olympics fundraiser, Fr. Joseph reported that "this was the best collection SOYO has made over the thirty years SOYO has been raising money for this ministry. The amount raised coupled with the $8,000 grant from the Order of St Ignatius, should cover the approximate $52,000 cost of this year’s SOYO/PASO Special Olympics Sports Camp. Most of the funds expended go to the Antiochian Village Camp for use of the camp facilities and food."