Youth Conference 2008: My Joy and My Sorrow

I cannot say how pleased I am with the 2008 Youth Conference that took place at the two parishes in Illinois this past weekend. The level of spiritual nourishment we all received, the level of Christian fellowship that we all received, and the sheer joy I experienced in being a part of the conference exceeded my expectations. I conveyed my thoughts to Geronda and a great smile came across his face, and he asked me to tell him everything! He wanted to experience through my words. I did my best but how could I possibly express it in words? Those of you who were there know what I mean!

The host parishes (The Holy Forerunner John and the Holy Unmercenaries), and all the organizers of the conference did a magnificent job in making the conference a success IN EVERY WAY.

I would like to particularly thank the following: Fr. Christos Pittos and family, Fr. Steven Allen, Fr. Theodore Giannakopoulos, Fr. Komninos Hatzileris, Fr. Anastasios Hudson, Leonidas Pittos, Alexandra Evangelou, Eliana Pittos, the Ladies' Philoptochos of the Holy Forerunner John the Baptist Parish, and Despina Avgoustis. I have not included every name that assisted in this great success but they are as blessed as the above mentioned.

My Joy

The single most moving experience for me happened on Friday evening/Saturday morning. Never in my 18 years as a monastic/clergyman have I seen such a phenomenon. More than 50 young people ranging in age from 4 to 25 years of age had prepared ahead of time, then came for confession on Friday, and then received Holy Communion on Saturday morning! Fr. Steven, Fr. Christos, and I spent Friday evening confessing one young person after another. They came from Oklahoma, from Florida, Illinois, New York, from Hellas, from Michigan, and places in between, and they did so with compunction and enthusiasm. I was truly moved. May God bless them all.

The second most moving experience for me was seeing the bonding that took place between our youth from the far flung parts of our country. I heard phrases such as, "I have made a new sister from different parents!", and "Why can't we do this every weekend? OK. Well, then why can't we do this every month then at least?" and "I never knew there were so many kids who are like me out there!", and "I think I met my future husband!" It was truly a joy to see and hear these words. I think maybe the Jonas Brothers were forgotten for a few days.

My Sorrow

My sorrow came on the day when the conference ended and the young (and the decrepit) had to say their "farewells" to each other. The tears flowed like rain. There were several cases were new friends and old friends alike had to be physically separated in order to catch flights from Midway. I am guessing the wireless companies, no I am not GUESSING, I certainly KNOW that the wireless companies are making a small fortune from the text messaging and calls that are being made by all who made new friends and saw old friends at the conference. I suggest that all parents out there get unlimited text, data, and minutes plans for anybody who attended the conference asap!

The sorrow was sweet sorrow. I just hope that we can get our summer camp functioning by this summer so that we can continue having our youth (and old) gather in Christian Agape. If you would like to volunteer to be an organizer/counselor at our summer camp please contact me.

I have put together a video of the conference. It is available for viewing at

www.Youtube.com/GreekOrthodoxTV

If you have not signed up as a subscriber to our TV channel there, do so now.

I am missing everybody!

Christ be with you,
+Despota

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