Music Learn is proud to announce the release of Kh. Gigi Baba Shadid's latest Orthodox Christian music CD, Fight the Good Fight. Teacher, Antiochian youth worker, and songwriter, Gigi's passion is teaching with music; this is Gigi's fifth music CD, and the first one written primarily for teens and adults. Her other projects include: Fruits of the Spirit (2004), Celebrate the Feasts (2007), Middle School Math Music (2008), and The ABC's of Orthodoxy (2011).
Church school teachers and parents throughout the United States, Canada, and many parts of the world have been enjoying her music for the past ten years. It has proven to be an effective tool for teaching and reinforcing the eternal truths of Christ and His holy Church. "This new CD is filled with essential questions for our salvation," noted Gigi.
Youth workers in North America are invited to the 2014 Camp and Youth Workers Conference, an annual gathering scheduled for January 23-25, 2014 at the Antiochian Village. Endorsed by the Assembly of Bishops, this year's Conference will address the theme, "Made in His Image and Likeness," with Keynote Speaker Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko.
The Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, explains that the conference is "intended to help the parish youth worker spiritually form the teens they work with, on the parish level. I encourage all parishes of the Antiochian Archdiocese to send your parish youth workers and teen SOYO advisors to this conference." Workshops will be available for three tracks: Youth Worker, Camp Ministry, and Pastoral.
Registration is open for the annual St. Herman Middle School Retreat, convening at Antiochian Village on the feast day of St. Herman of Alaska.
- Who: Students in grades 5-8
- Where: Antiochian Village Conference Center, December 13-15, 2013
- What: interactive presentations and discussions, weekend liturgical services (with an outdoor supplication service to St. Herman), games, crafts, meals and snacks, sledding, geocaching, stargazing, guided night hike, a campfire
- Why: The distraction-free environment of the Village and the spiritual emphasis of the retreat offer a wonderful opportunity for middle schoolers to focus on their faith
- How much: $96/person for lodging and meals
- Download the registration form or visit the Antiochian Village's list of upcoming events for more information.
Fr. Anthony Yagze, Chair of the Departments of College Ministry, and Camping, encourages all youth in the Antiochian Archdiocese to participate in the YouTube challenge. "It's an interesting opportunity for young people!" he notes.
Welcome to the 2013 Orthodox Church in America (OCA) YouTube Challenge!
Youth and Young Adult (Ages 14-28) should respond with an original video by midnight on November 15, 2013, to the following question: "What is the Gospel?" Participants may wish to reflect on:
- The essential message of Jesus Christ
- What his actions and words tell us about humanity and divinity
- How the Gospel message can be preached in your particular environment (school, work, family, etc..)
Participants may wish to use their video to deliver a traditional speech, or find ways of more creatively answering the challenge through visual imagery and poetic license.
September 16, 2013
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) reports:
OCF's "Real Break" aims to prepare college students to be socially informed Orthodox Christian citizens of this world, while directing their focus on the world to come, the kingdom of heaven. Built on a foundation of fellowship, education, worship, and service, Real Break provides students the opportunity to understand the true meaning of seeing Christ in the other—traveling to all parts of the world deepening their faith, serving those in need, and cultivating relationships with like-minded peers.
Color and black and white versions of the official logo for 2014 Parish Life Conferences are now available online:
Calling all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni!
OCF is in the midst of collecting names for its First Forty Days program and it needs the help of each parish, to help high school graduates seamlessly join the OCF network. First Forty Days aims to integrate new collegians into the life of an OCF chapter during the first forty days of college. Please submit student information on OCF's website by June 30th to ensure that each students will be directly contacted by the OCF North American Office and greeted on his or her college campus by an OCF family and local parish at the beginning of the fall semester.
Questions? Please contact North American Chapter Relations Coordinator Christina Andresen at email@example.com.
Calling all parents, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, parish priests, and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) alumni!
OCF is in the midst of collecting names for our "First Forty Days" program. We want to help your parish's high school graduates seamlessly join the OCF network by integrating them into the life of a chapter during the first forty days of their college experience. Please submit your student information on our website here by June 15th to ensure that your students will be directly contacted by the OCF North American Office and that they will be greeted on their college campuses by an OCF family and local parish at the beginning of the fall semester.
As a way of providing additional support for college students, OCF is offering "Connect Kits" for college freshmen; the kits include prayer books, icons, and OCF media designed to encourage young adults to stay in the Church once they leave home for school. For questions regarding the First Forty Days, Connect Kits, or the network of OCF chapters across North America, please contact our North American Chapter Relations Coordinator Christina Andresen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the final installment in the Orthodox Christian Network's (OCN) May "Come Receive the Light" series about Sex and the Christian, OCN Executive Director Fr. Christopher Metropulos interviewed Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth and Parish Ministries. In the interview, Fr. Joseph spoke about the holiness of Christian sexuality, and how it is meant to enrich the marital life of couples.
"We have the Scriptures given to us as...a wealth of information on how God intends us to live out our lives," emphasized Fr. Joseph in the interview. "God places before us so many of the answers but we go seeking for information from our culture and end up at a dead end. We have to first begin with God's Word—it is lifegiving."
The National Youth Directors of several different Orthodox Jurisdictions, together with the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), have collaborated to offer several resources for clergy and lay people to help minister to our youth and young adults in light of the recent public violence in and around Boston.
The resource packet contains a cover letter from several youth directors, three reflections on the attacks by adults, ten tips for speaking to your youth groups and church school classes about public violence, and ten suggested steps for equipping your youth group or OCF chapter to respond to these tragedies. Additionally, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) has made available its online study guide “A Christian Response to Terrorism.” This study guide, originally compiled after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, provides prayers, scriptural references, and discussion questions to use with youth and young adults.
In addition to the OCA, these materials have been provided by collaboration between the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, the Ukrainian Church of the USA, and the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia.
Tanya Schillawski, the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Student Advisory Board Praxis Coordinator, has announced that the OCF Day of Prayer will begin on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 8. For twenty-four hours, college students at OCF chapters around the country will be praying continuously. The OCF website will post the prayer service, with versions that can be used with and without the presence of a priest. Insructions on setting up a live feed will also be posted, so that students from around the country can pray with the designated chapter.
For those OCF chapters unable to participate in the program, leaders are requested that their lists of names of the living and departed be sent to email@example.com. The cut off day to submit names is Friday, March 29th, with no exceptions allowed. These lists will then be posted on the OCF's website.
The parish of St. Antonios Antiochian Orthodox Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia was blessed to have Fr. Joseph Purpura, chairman of the Antiochian Department of Youth Ministry, join us for a weekend full of inspiration, motivation and faith.
On Friday March 8, Fr. Joseph met with the parents of the youth in the community and informed them about issues that have become a serious problem within society. This includes sex, drugs and alcohol. Sadly, these common activities observed within society also affect teens in the Orthodox Church.
Increasing parent and teen awareness to these issues was an extremely important aspect of the weekend, as many parents were not updated with the latest science about the harm that results from the use of alcohol and drug substances.
As part of a growing partnership between Ancient Faith Radio (AFR) and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), audio field reports are being posted from select Real Break Trips on Ancient Faith Radio, including ministry to: Guatemala, Honduras, Constantinople, Mexico, Toronto, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. Tune in to AFR to listen on demand as they become available.
Other joint projects include the OCF Podcast, Special College Student Editions of Orthodoxy Live ( a live call in program) and coverage of other special OCF events.
Ancient Faith Radio seeks to deepen and enrich the faith of Orthodox Christians around the world with streaming audio programming and on-demand podcasts. It features liturgical music from a variety of Orthodox traditions, as well as prayers, readings, lectures, and interviews.
The Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America's Youth Director Erin Ghata, member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Oklahoma City, OK, recently reported to the St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood, that the Diocese of Wichita's annual SOYO Winter Camp from February 15-17 exceeded all expectations. "Your blessing!" wrote Ms. Ghata. "Thank God, by your prayers, we had a wonderful time this past weekend at Winter Camp! More than 120 DOWAMA teens and chaperones gathered at Camp Saint Raphael (YABOY!) for a weekend of prayer, fellowship and learning. It was the biggest Winter Camp we have ever had!
"Father James Shadid did an amazing job as our speaker," she continued.
In time for the 2013-2014 academic year, the Scholarships page on Antiochian.org has been updated to include all archdiocesan forms and deadlines, as well as information from other institutions offering scholarships to Antiochian students at both the college or graduate school level.
Students can browse through various options, including a scholarship for a student in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, a scholarship from Antiochian Women, several scholarships from the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, scholarships available from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and scholarships for former Scouts. By way of reminder, camp scholarships are also available through the Order of St. Ignatius.
As part of a "Come Receive the Light" series on the family and the Church, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, recently joined Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) Executive Director Fr. Chris Metropulos for two discussions about helping Orthodox teens navigate today's complicated journey to adulthood. (Listen to Part I, "Moving Towards Salvation," and Part II, "Closer to Christ.)
Father Joseph outlined the top challenges, which he noted are as great as they've been at any time in history: busyness which can be senseless, stress, overscheduling, distractions, a sense of being overstimulated by technology, overexposure to sexual images, and the prevalence of substance abuse. He also explained that historically, parents had never been expected to raise their kids without outside support; the community as a whole felt a responsibility to help children grow up safely.
During the month of January, the youth of the Antiochian Archdiocese traditionally focus on two worthy SOYO programs: Sacred Gift of Life, and Purity, Virginity, Chastity. Local Teen SOYO chapters and high school Christian Education classes are encouraged to view and use the resources found on SOYO's website. Some of the materials include a case study on abortion and the sacred gift of life developed by Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt, leading Orthodox bioethicist; lesson plans with discussion questions about chastity; and essays about the Sacrament of Matrimony and the mystery of marriage.
The SOYO site explains that "while people may have failed to make good choices in the past on this most important issue of life, SOYO chooses to help educate a generation of teens to make good choices with how they use their body and how they treat life - given as a gift from God." With these resources, teens, under the leadership of their pastors and advisors, will have the material necessary to hold productive discussions which will hopefully further their belief and commitment to the sacred gift of life and to the virtues of purity and chastity.
The 2013 Special Olympics Sports Camp is scheduled to be held at the Antiochian Village August 9-17, 2013. This ministry is sponsored by the North American Council of Teen SOYO, and is the second longest running program of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, serving approximately 175 campers each season. It is the premier SOYO outreach program, now in its 32st year of service. Each year SOYO teens raise the funds on Special Olympics Awareness Day (in 2012 over $50,000 was raised), along with an $8,000 annual contribution from the Order of St. Ignatius.
In addition to the funds raised, SOYO teens provide at least half the coaching staff, and many former teens who are now adults come on staff as adult leaders. With this in mind, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth Ministry, has announced that the 2013 SOYO Special Olympic Coaches Application is now available for those youth who are interested in working at the Sports Camp. More information about this opportunity is available on the SOYO website.
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.
Des Plaines, IL – More than 60 parents, clergy and youth leaders attended a breakfast forum titled “How To Talk To Your Kids…and save your child from substance use/abuse” on Saturday, December 8 at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Des Plaines, IL, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY), the forum hosted people from seven Orthodox jurisdictions representing fifteen parishes in the Greater Chicago area.
Following a prayer and welcome from OCCHY Director Fr. Nicholas Dahdal, and brief introduction to OCCHY by Project Coordinator Gordana Trbuhovich, the program began with a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) video presentation, featuring Dr. Nora Volkow. Three dynamic speakers followed, beginning with Fr. Athanasios Papagiannis, LCSW, a licensed social worker and assistant priest at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago. Father Athanasios stressed positive and spiritual relationships in his presentation, “You and Your Child." “The way you bend the young branch,” Father stated, “is the direction in which the tree will grow."
December 15, 2012
Dear Teens of the Antiochian Archdiocese,
Please keep in your prayers all of the children and adults killed this past Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.
There are no words to describe the why of these senseless killing of innocent children and adults.
Our hope, trust, and comfort is found in God the Father who so loved us that He sent His own Son to become one of us, to die on the Cross, and to rise from the dead, making a way to the Kingdom for us so that we might have life in abundance.
May the approaching Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bring you comfort and peace as we contemplate the tremendous and unending love of God for each of us. May His love and His presence bring you great comfort in the coming weeks and year.
Yours in Christ,
V. Rev. Dr. Joseph F Purpura
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Helping Our Orthodox Youth Follow and Represent Christ
Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church + Austin, TX
Janury 24-26, 2013
Download Flyer (PDF)
The 11 Annual Orthodox Christian Camp & Youth Worker Conference provides an arena for Orthodox youth workers from different jurisdictions to share and provide resources. The conference will include keynote and guest speakers, educational presentations, break out sessions and fellowship. All Orthodox parish and diocese youth workers, camp directors and staff, and OCF chaplains are invited to attend.
Father Apostolos Hill, the keynote speaker, has served in the Orthodox Church for the last twenty years as cantor, youth director, catechist, deacon, and priest. Currently, Fr. Hill serves as Proestamenos of St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Prescott, AZ. He has been actively involved in youth ministry serving the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, the camping ministry in Denver's Greek Metropolis, Ionian Village, with OCF Real Break Ministry leading trips to Greece and Guatemala, and with youth street ministry.
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has announced that registration is now open for their Real Break program. Explains the OCF website, "The Real Break program provides an alternative to the 'traditional' Spring Break. It exists to provide the most authentic experience possible, modeled as a full Christian lifestyle, which includes fellowship, prayer within community, witness and service. OCF organizes both domestic and international trips to give college students the opportunity to serve those less fortunate and to do something 'real' for themselves and for God. OCF’s Real Break has been running since 2000 with over a thousand students participating in these life-changing trips. Past trips have included: Mexico, Guatemala, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Raphael House, St. Basil Academy, Greece, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Romania, Buenos Aires, Alaska, and more."
Seven Real Break trips are planned for March, 2013, serving communities in Guatemala, New Orleans, Toronto, LA Skid Row, Honduras, Constantinople (Istanbul), and Mexico. Students can register online, and view both an introductory video and a short fundraising tutorial.
On the first Sunday in December, Youth Equipped to Serve (YES) is inviting all parishes to participate in YES Awareness Day. A ministry of The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS), YES provides opportunities for junior high and high school students to participate in formative weekends of service in cities around the United States. An upcoming YES weekend, sponsored by St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church of Pawtucket, RI, is scheduled for Friday, December 14, through Sunday, December 16, in Providence.
Notes Director Katrina Bitar, "We would be so grateful if you took the time to share our ministry with your community and helped to raise funds that will enable us to meet the needs of the people we serve." A letter which can be read in parishes during the YES Sunday observance, reads in part:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we approach the Nativity of our Lord, I am blessed today to have the opportunity to share with you, the YES Program—Youth Equipped to Serve—of FOCUS North America.
What is "Village at Home"? Antiochian Village's website explains, "In an effort to stay connected to our campers and introduce young people to the camp experience, we have established our Village at Home program. In short, we visit a parish, at the invitation of their pastor, and run a modified day of camp at the parish. We ask the host parish to extend invitations to neighboring churches with hope of exposing as many young people to the Antiochian Village camping program. We recruit former staff members to join us for the day to assist with the program. The day somewhat mimics a day of camp."