The following is the New Year’s letter offered to the teens of the Antiochian Archdiocese by Fr. Joseph F. Purpura, the chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry. In it, he describes his hopes and prayers for the youth of the Archdiocese in this new season.
As we enter the year of our Lord 2013, a flood of thoughts flow through my mind concerning you the young people of this great archdiocese. For many years I have been blessed to lead the youth efforts across this North American Archdiocese. First as a Regional Spiritual Advisor from 1981-1985, then as the North American Council of SOYO Spiritual Advisor from 1985-1991 and then as Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry from 1990 to present. In each of these thirty-five years of priesthood and youth work, I have been keenly aware of three things:
First, that our task is to pass the faith down to each of you.
Second, to instill in you a love for Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church and to enable you to live a righteous life in Jesus Christ.
Third, to raise generations of disciples and leaders for Christ’s Holy Orthodox Church and these North American nations in which we reside.
With each passing year and with each successive generation of young persons placed before us, I continue to be amazed and filled with joy at just how blessed our archdiocese and Holy Orthodox Church here in North America is to have so many dedicated, loving, and Christ-centered young persons in our midst. So often the media is filled with all that is wrong in our society, especially among young people, yet all we need to do is look at you, the youth of this archdiocese, and know that God is present and working in you.
I commend all of you, to continue to seek Christ in all that you do, each day and each year of your life. In my years of life, while I like you were clearly taught, I now fully believe, that real life, the joyous life, life that has meaning and purpose can only be found through Jesus Christ. If our efforts are Christ-centered - Christ grounded - Christ filled, they will ultimately lead to life and joy so great that it cannot be expressed on paper or in words.
My prayer for you, the youth of this archdiocese, as we plunge into 2013, is that this year will bring you one step closer to that eternal joy found only through Jesus Christ. As St. Paul writes, “Let no one despise your youth.” (1 Timothy 4:12) Be strong, be courageous, stand up for your Orthodox Faith, even if it is a silent and firm stand for what is right, what is good, and what is profitable for salvation. Let no one take away from you that which God has given you as one of the “people of God.” Many will try to take this gift from you. Stand firm in your faith and trust in God and your Orthodox Faith will serve you well towards your salvation and the salvation of those around you.
May our good, loving, kind, and merciful God bring you great joy, great peace, strength, and the abundance of all good things in this year of our Lord 2013.
Yours in our Loving and Merciful Christ,
Fr. Joseph F. Purpura, Chairman
Department of Youth and Parish Ministry
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America