New Diocesan Youth Ministry Established
September 4, 2005
BINGHAMTON, NY - His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas
announced at the 61st National ACRY Convention his plans to inaugurate a
comprehensive Diocesan-wide Youth Ministry. In his address at the final business
session of the convention, His Eminence called upon the members of the ACRY to
support his effort to more effectively reach out to the spiritual needs of our
diocesan youth. His Eminence stated that the new diocesan-wide youth ministry
initiative would be deemed a "New Apostolate" of the diocese and would be
pursued with an apostolic zeal, for in our present day and age, our children are
in need of being rescued from the stormy seas of life. It was announced that a
Diocesan Youth Commission would be appointed in the near future which would be
headed by a senior priest of the diocese, and would include the Administrator of
Camp Nazareth, the Junior ACRY spiritual advisor and other clergy who are gifted
with ministering to the youth.
The following is the complete text of His Eminence's address to the ACRY
The news about Hurricane Katrina is unavoidable. It is on every television
and on every newspaper. And how could it be otherwise? Already, this Hurricane
has become the worst natural disaster that has hit the United
I am not going to speak directly about this catastrophe right now. The
time for speaking about the Hurricane will come later. But I do want to reflect
on how this tragedy makes us look at life as the precious, fragile gift from God
that it really is.
While listening to the news makes us all feel weary, it challenges us to
cling ever more closely to God and His Holy Orthodox Church. It makes us
appreciate the gift of salvation, and the healing power of all the sacraments.
And it makes us all the more concerned about the salvation of those around us,
and those who are coming after us.
It is our young people - our children and youth - who are the ones coming
after us. You might think it odd that I think of these when I hear the news of
Hurricane Katrina - but you parents certainly understand. When you hear of a
crisis or a tragedy, your first thought is to reach for your children, to make
sure that they're safe.
Today, I am thinking of the children and the youth of this Diocese, and I
want to make them safe. I want them safe and secure, of course, from disasters
like the hurricane, but more than this, I want them safe and secure from even
These are the storms of doubt and coldheartedness, the tempests of
self-centeredness and soft living. These are the storms that pull youth away
from churches and their parents. These are the tempests that pull family members
away from each other.
I am not here to impress upon you how dangerous this situation is. You
already know this, so I do not have to convince you. What is more important
right now is to respond to the storm, and to provide for our children in the
challenging future ahead. As bad and dreary as are these challenges, none of
them are impossible. Every single challenge, and every single storm can be
I think, in particular, of the nearly four hundred children of our Diocese
who attended Camp Nazareth this summer. This was a great success, and as the
Camping program continues to develop, that number will grow.
But even four hundred children and youth are only a small part of the
young people of our Diocese. It is many hundreds more than four
When I think of them, and the storm of unbelief that presses down upon
them from every side of this modern age, I know that we must involve them all in
the spiritual life of the Diocese. I want all of them to receive the teaching,
pastoral and sacramental ministry of the Diocese - not just the ones in large or
active parishes, but also the youth from our small parishes, and those parishes
who participate less.
The need here is urgent. There is a storm of emptiness and chaos looming
on the horizon, and our children must be given shelter in our Diocesan
fellowship. In my conversations with many parents, I hear, over and over again,
the fervent desire for a greater, apostolic ministry to our children and
I have heard these voices, and I accept this burden. I do not lay it upon
you. You will help, of course, as you always have. But this desire for a greater
ministry goes beyond the capacity of any organization. It is a burden that must
be shouldered by the Bishop, and by the entire Diocese under his spiritual
Today, I am sharing with you a new initiative of the Diocese to respond to
this need. From this time on, we are looking upon our children and our young
people as a group to whom we must especially minister, not as a group who will
manage their organization on their own.
In other words, we will think, plan and work along the lines of "youth
ministry." For too long, we assumed that it was sufficient, for the needs of the
youth, for a parish to have an active Jr. ACRY. But now we realize that the task
of "youth ministry" goes beyond the role of the Senior or Junior ACRY.
"Youth ministry" goes beyond just having a business meeting. It is goes
beyond running bake sales and fund drives. It is goes beyond rehearsing for
adult participation in the Senior ACRY.
"Youth ministry" requires the initiative and active involvement of the
Diocese to provide teaching, training in prayer, fellowship, friendship,
charitable work and opportunities for mission work. It requires Diocesan
leadership to educate our young people in Bible knowledge, Church doctrine and
tradition, Orthodox morality and ethics.
"Youth ministry" requires more than what we are doing now in the Diocese.
It requires much, much more than what the ACRY can do in its own
I call upon you, the membership and leadership of the Senior and Junior
ACRY, to commit yourself as a body to participate in this initiative.
While there is much to plan and much to change, and while you can expect
much information to come your way in the near future, I will announce this
By the authority vested in me by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate in Constantinople, I am announcing the formulation of a new
Diocesan Commission - the Diocesan Apostolate for Youth Ministry. I will appoint
a senior priest to act as the Director of this new Apostolate, and I will
appoint additional members as well, among them will be the Spiritual Advisor of
the Jr. ACRY and the Administrator of Camp Nazareth.
This new initiative is called an "Apostolate" to underscore the
seriousness and urgency of its mission. The very word "Apostolate" expresses
"the continuation and extension of the Orthodox ministry of the Apostles, and
their successors, the Bishops of the Orthodox Church."
The Apostolate for Diocesan Youth Ministry will be charged with planning
and coordinating the Diocesan ministry to our children and youth. What will this
- It will report directly to me and the Diocesan Consistory.
• It will work to nurture Orthodox spirituality in the life of our youth.
• It will work to educate our youth in the Orthodox response to modern
concerns and ethical issues.
• It will work to strengthen the commitment of our youth to their
• It will seek to overturn the current problem of older youth leaving
Church life at 18, and returning back to Church only when their babies need
baptized and catechized. It will seek to strengthen the commitment of our youth
to their local parish and to the Diocese.
• It will seek to prepare our youth for the vocations of Orthodox marriage
and family in the modern age.
• And speaking of vocations, it will seek to prepare young men and women
for tonsure to the monastic vocation, and young men for entry into the vocation
of the priesthood.
This new Apostolate will formulate a plan of action as quickly as
possible. One of the new programs that I will direct the Apostolate to plan is a
new Annual Youth Weekend. Our youth need to get together from across the
Diocese, to enjoy fellowship and to worship together as youth, and to become
excited about being Orthodox.
The first of these Annual Youth Events will be held in conjunction next
Summer with the 30th Anniversary of the Groundbreaking at Camp Nazareth. During
the two days before the Commemoration of the Groundbreaking, our youth will
gather at Camp Nazareth from across the Diocese to experience Orthodox
challenge, inspiration and fellowship.
I, too, am excited about being Orthodox. But, truth be told, we are all
getting old. This is a simple fact that many deny, but is true all the same. The
wisdom of Holy Tradition tells us, however, that we are not to deny our age, but
should be motivated by our oldness to think about the next generation of the
The Righteous David, the great Poet and Shepherd King, wrote this in the
O God, You have taught me from my youth,And to this day I have always declared Your wondrous works.Now that I am old and grayheaded,O God, do not forsake me! Do not forsake me until I declare Your strength To the next generation,Until I declare Your power to all those who are to come.(Psalm 70.17-18)
This is my prayer, my beloved friends - that God will preserve me and not
forsake me until I - and all of us together - declare the power, love and grace
of God our Saviour to the next generation. These are the children that God gave
us to teach, to love, to lead, and to save out of the storm.