Saints Constantine and Helen
Greek Orthodox Church
1 Marycrest Road
West Nyack, New York  10994
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Always a Spiritual Focus, First 

Dear Parish Families, 

Just recently, on September 21st, we had a chance to participate in the kick-off GOYA welcome event, held at Holiday Hill, Connecticut. A few members of our GOYA were able to attend, and we hope for many more participants, next year. 
The grounds were truly breathtaking. Imagine rumpled folds of green mountains and, in the middle of those mountains, a huge, blue swimming pool. Just watching those children swimming was like seeing them swim in a giant painting of nature, with the mountains in a backdrop. 
The GOYA Ministry also shared an invaluable presentation on our Youth in Church. 
They shared that we have four circles of youth interaction in our faith. There is (1) Worship (Liturgia): we participate as altar boys, in the choir, as readers, as greeters,through receiving the Holy Sacraments (Holy Communion), through our attendance, through our prayer. Three is (2) Fellowship (Koinonia), how we take our faith and integrate it into daily living—by participating in GOYA activities (meetings, sports, summer camp Saint Paul), regional activities, parish retreats, oratorical festivals, reading of the Sunday Epistles, Ionian Village, dances, etc. Culture fits into this category. We next have (3) Service (Diakonia). This is how we take what we learn in the previous circles and learn how to implement our lessons: by serving soup kitchens, midnight runs, bears from the heart program, visiting old-age homes, shut-ins, assisting Sunday School teachers (with little kids), food drives, festival volunteering, Holy Altar, Christmas play, singing carols for shut-ins, etc. Next, there is (4) Witness (Martyria), how we may become witnesses and speak about our faith—through preaching, OCMC, IOCC (these are charity programs), etc. events may be more localised events, etc. 
Some of the insightful observations these Youth Leaders shared with us were in observing how a well-rounded parish should meet all of these above-mentioned aspects of ministry. If we only offer athletics, then we are failing as a parish. 
What makes a youth program successful is the quality of what is being offered at the time, and that which encompasses the most of these aforementioned ministries. For that to happen requires not the priest, and not the youth advisors, but the families, the parents. 
The goal of our Church and Faith is to serve many purposes: to expose children to our offerings, to have our children who attended summer camp to reunite with the other Orthodox friends they met, to give a way to break down our human barriers we often build between parishes. These meetings are a way to break down the walls, and expand our friendships. 
Some parishes offer youth events that span all area-parishes. For example, on March 29th, 2014, the annual Archdiocesan Youth Scavenger Hunt will be held in Manhattan. Over May’s Labour Day, our Youth Summer Olympics will again be held on Long Island. Individual parishes also host parish ski trips and dances. 
Another strong, helpful, informative part of our Youth presentation was on “youth protection.” Several points were made that discussed how everything must be a positive impression, how a child must also encounter Jesus Christ at a retreat, a dance. If that doesn’t happen, then we are only a club, not a church. We were reminded how our church meetings are about spiritual growth, identity, and the love of God—not merely about getting our children to go to church. 
Today’s adolescent environment is about stress. Our church and youth groups are about communicating love and support. We were reminded that kids leave church because they don’t see sincerity. They don’t see parents receiving Holy Communion. We are reminded that it’s not about rules; it’s about relationships. 
We recognize that, sometimes, sports and the competitions can produce an almost-animosity between parishes. What we are here to do as Orthodox Christian parishes is to encourage an attitude of friendships and sharing. We strongly remind everyone, child and parents alike, that children are not the future of our We recognize that, sometimes, sports and the competitions can produce an almost-animosity between parishes. What we are here to do as Orthodox Christian parishes is to encourage an attitude of friendships and sharing. We strongly remind everyone, child and parents alike, that children are not the future of our Church; they are our present. Church; they are our present. We recognize that, sometimes, sports and the competitions can produce an almost-animosity between parishes. What we are here to do as Orthodox Christian parishes is to encourage an attitude of friendships and sharing. We strongly remind everyone, child and parents alike, that children are not the future of our Church; they are our present. 
From this, again, we are reminded that it is the families, the parents, who most shape their children. We only get 20-30% participation our whole possible crowd of children and/or families. When parents make excuses for not getting involved, how may we respond? By telling them they have to make it a priority. Families, if you don’t want to lose your children at high school age, or at college-age, you need to lead by example and show your children that our Church and traditions are your priority.From this, again, we are reminded that it is the families, the parents, who most shape their children. We only get 20-30% participation our whole possible crowd of children and/or families. When parents make excuses for not getting involved, how may we respond? By telling them they have to make it a priority. Families, if you don’t want to lose your children at high school age, or at college-age, you need to lead by example and show your children that our Church and traditions are your priority. 
 Start taking away the excuses.From this, again, we are reminded that it is the families, the parents, who most shape their children. We only get 20-30% participation our whole possible crowd of children and/or families. When parents make excuses for not getting involved, how may we respond? By telling them they have to make it a priority. Families, if you don’t want to lose your children at high school age, or at college-age, you need to lead by example and show your children that our Church and traditions are your priority. Start taking away the excuses. From this, again, we are reminded that it is the families, the parents, who most shape their children. We only get 20-30% participation our whole possible crowd of children and/or families. When parents make excuses for not getting involved, how may we respond? By telling them they have to make it a priority. Families, if you don’t want to lose your children at high school age, or at college-age, you need to lead by example and show your children that our Church and traditions are your priority. Start taking away the excuses.From this, again, we are reminded that it is the families, the parents, who most shape their children. We only get 20-30% participation our whole possible crowd of children and/or families. When parents make excuses for not getting involved, how may we respond? By telling them they have to make it a priority. Families, if you don’t want to lose your children at high school age, or at college-age, you need to lead by example and show your children that our Church and traditions are your priority. Start taking away the excuses. 

We ask all parents to take one, small youth event only. Not all the events. Break it down to manageable efforts. Your children grow in faith by being together: they don’t realise this. They are building friendships and trust by associating together. We are parents and we are responsible for the salvation of our children. Period. We are not just on a committee for social and/or sports events. Children look to their parents for examples of how to behave. The things we do set the examples for our children. 
Please remember these helpful insights as we proceed into our Church Year and provide for our children. 

—Faithfully, Father Samaras