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The Department of Youth and Parish Ministries supports and integrates the whole spectrum of archdiocesan programs for youth, including the Camping Program, Teen SOYO, and Campus Ministry. This department also works closely with the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, whose mission-while not directed solely at youth-resonates closely with the objectives of this department. Although all of these programs together encompass a broad range of activity and age groups, all share the same goal: to encourage full participation in the life of the Church through worship, witness, service, and fellowship. This department trains youth leaders, organizes events, provides consultation for youth leaders and pastors across the archdiocese, maintains youth-related data and a cache of ministry resources, and oversees programs such as the Bible Bowl and the Oratorical Festival.

The Department of Youth and Parish Ministries webpage has information and links that are intended to be broadly informative for young people, youth leaders, pastors, and parents. Visitors looking for more specific information on the Camping Program, Teen SOYO, Campus Ministry, or the Fellowship of St. John the Divine are encouraged to visit their respective web pages for a complete picture of what each has to offer. Go HERE to sign up for the Department's email list server.

SOYO Special Olympics Awareness Day is Sunday, October 15

On October 15, 2017, the North American Council of Teen SOYO sponsors the 37th Annual Special Olympics Awareness Day. Every August, Teen SOYO hosts and funds an annual week‐long camp for Special Olympics Athletes at the Antiochian Village. Over the past 36 years, Teen SOYO has fostered a camping experience like no other. Our camp demonstrates a unified environment where teen SOYO members from across the Archdiocese come together with coaches from Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) and enthusiastic athletes for an intense week of sports training and witness to Christ. All resources may be downloaded on SOYO's Special Olympics web page.

Through your generous donations, SOYO Special Olympics Sports Camp has grown immensely through the years. This year, we experienced a record number of athletes in attendance, and have accomplished an astounding 36 years of SOYO Special Olympics Camp. Over these 36 years, we have hosted more than 8,000 athletes and coaches, and over 1,150 of our teens have been blessed by working as SOYO Coaches or Volunteers. It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to serve, pray, and play with these Special Olympics Athletes, and we look forward, with your help, to continuing this important ministry.

October 2017: Archdiocese Youth Month

October is the month when the Archdiocese introduces teens to the many opportunities to minister in the Church. The youth "are encouraged to read the Epistle, chant and sing in the choir, assist in church school, and give sermons approved by the priest," explains Department of Youth Chairman The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura. 

Another way teens can get involved in their parishes is to participate in the Creative Arts, Bible Bowl, and Oratorical Festivals. This year’s theme, selected by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, is "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)

Christian Education Department Kicks off Sunday School Year with New Resources

The Christian Education team of the Antiochian Archdiocese, headed by Director Carole Buleza, is passionate about transmitting the faith to the next generation, and the resource-rich Christian Education section on antiochian.org reflects this. An extensive upgrade to the Christian Education pages launched to coincide with the start of the Sunday School year includes an entirely new Creative Festivals 2018 section for 2017-2018.

Highlights of the new material available are:

In the main Christian Education section, the latest teacher training events are featured. 

Fr. George Shalhoub Addresses Suicide Prevention Awareness in University of Michigan Panel

In August 2017, Fr. George Shalhoub, pastor of The Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI participated in a panel discussion at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, on the pastoral issue of suicide prevention. After his presentation at the University, "Preventing Suicide in Middle Eastern Communities," Fr. George answered questions and said there is "the need to speak of this spiritual darkness that can affect all of us."


Q: Father George, what were you doing at the University of Michigan-Dearborn today?

A: The Middle Eastern Law Enforcement Officers Association invited me, along with religious leaders Rabbi Daniel Syme of Bethel Temple and Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni of the Islamic Center of America, for an interfaith perspective panel which addressed addiction and suicide in our communities. A panel discussion discussed the topic of suicide prevention and substance abuse in the Arab American community.

Q: How did you contribute to this discussion?

A: The Arab American community in this country suffers from drug abuse and faces cases of suicide and suicide attempts, just as many other communities do. The number one difficulty is to break the stigma or taboo associated with suicide. Most immigrants in the Arab American community do not realize that these crises do exist within one’s own church, mosque, or temple. This goes beyond ethnicity, economic status and religious background. Families, in particular, do not want to hear that they have children who are less than perfect or that their children are capable of taking drugs or contemplating suicide.

Faithtree Resources Releases "13 Reasons: Why We Must Engage with Our Teens"

Van Nuys, California. (August 4, 2017)  Faithtree Resources, a teaching ministry of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Van Nuys, CA, has released their latest resource for clergy and families, a free eBook entitled: 13 Reasons: Why We Must Engage with Our Teens. (Download a free copy) 

The 20+ page resource is Faithtree’s response to the popular Netflix series "13 Reasons Why," a teen-oriented drama about a high school student who takes her own life. The series aired this year and has not only caused a national stir, but as new research indicates, may have significantly increased the number of teens now researching and contemplating their own suicides. In an article in The Atlantic, Google reported queries about suicide rose by almost 20 percent in the 19 days following the wake of the show’s release. This represents between 900,000-1.5 million more searches than usual regarding the subject.

Department of Youth News Archive

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