My dear Youth Workers and Advisors,
I pray that you are having a beautiful Ascension Feast Day. I had the wonderful opportunity to be with many of your parish priests last night at Church of Our Savior in Rye, New York for Vespers in honor of their Feast Day!
A year ago yesterday, I began serving as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Direct Archdiocesan District. It has truly been a wonderful year for me! I have had the opportunity to meet so many of you and get to know your children. I have come to see the fullness of Youth Ministry in the District, and am pleased that together we have started to constructively think about how we can make this important Ministry even stronger.
We have seen increased organization in all of our athletic leagues, we have worked together to offer our young people at least two spiritual retreats a year, we saw Camp Saint Paul sell out in a little over a month, and just recently we processed the most staff applications for Camp Saint Paul ever! Our young people are continuing to come together not just in the spirit of competition, but in the spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with Christian agape. So many other things (many small successes!) have happened all over the District…too many to list here! In this spirit, thank you all for your love and support for our children and congratulations on a fantastic year of Youth Ministry!
While so much has been accomplished over the past year, we all know that there is always work to be done in the area of Youth Ministry. In the coming year, we ask you to join the Youth Office in our mission to bring our young people closer to our Lord. We must make an active effort to directly connect the extra-curricular activities of the Church to our children’s Liturgical and Spiritual Life. As I said at our recent DAD Clergy Laity, if our children are only coming to the church for sports games and practices and not participating in the Liturgical Life of the Church, then we are failing those children. Our goal this year will be to make that connection viable and tangible for our young people. With your support and love, I am confident in our ability to accomplish this goal.
We will continue to evaluate the organizational structures of the athletic leagues to ensure the best interest of our children. In the coming months, we will be releasing District-wide Eligibility Standards that will be enforced in every league to ensure uniformity across the District. Although there will be some differences from past policy, these rules and standards are being set in place to promote fairness, efficiency and an Orthodox Christian atmosphere and have been thoughtfully constructed by a committee of youth workers just like yourself whose main priority is their love for our young athletes.
As you can imagine, I still have many thoughts in my head regarding Youth Ministry in the District, and I look forward to sharing some with you as the summer progresses! For the time being, I want to sincerely thank you for your time, your dedication, and your love for our joint mission. Youth Ministry can, at times, feel like a burden, but I ask that you remember the work we do for our children is not to our own glory or benefit, but ultimately for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I look forward to seeing you soon!
Rev. Deacon Evagoras Constantinides
Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries