Youth Presentations to Syriac Orthodox

In December 2016, James Munk, the North American Region Kairos Director, and Ed Moccia, Saint Paul's Outreach Mission Director in New Jersey, joined the clergy of the Syriac Orthodox Church Eastern US Archdiocese for a conference focused on improving youth work in the Archdiocese. The retreat took place at the Mor Aphrem Center in New Jersey.

The Syriac Orthodox Church traces it beginnings to the earliest years of the Chrisian era. It has churches throughout the Middle East , Iraq, and India. As a result of immigration, the Syriac Orthodox Church now has churches in Europe, the Americas, and Australia as well.

Our Sword of the Spirit Community, People of God, in Beirut, Lebanon, has a strong connection with the church and suggested James and Ed as a resource. Archbishop Mor Dionysius John Kawak acted on that suggestion and invited James and Ed to address this conference of priests from his Archdiocese.

                          Munk and Ed Moccia

James and Ed made six, one-hour presentations to the 18 priests and the Archbishop. These presentations outlined the Sword of the Spirit’s approach to working with youth.
• Understanding Youth Culture
• The Postmodern Mind
• SOS Theory of Youth Work
• Raising Up Young Leaders
• Working with Transitional Adults
• Improving Your Parish Youth Work
James and Ed stressed the importance of engaging the youth themselves in Christian mission, a key element of creating radical disciples. They suggested that the Archdiocese bring together some of their more committed young members to develop a strategy for engaging young people in the church.

Plans have already been made for subsequent connections. One of the priests from New Jersey will be visiting the Saint Paul’s Outreach chapter at Seaton Hall, especially to observe the men’s household environment there. Another priest from Michigan plans to attend the Kairos YES! Retreat—he may even bring along some youth from his parish. There are many opportunities for joint action in the future.

James and Ed found great inspiration among the Syriac clergy. “I was having lunch with one of the priests,” Ed said, “he shared with me how he had to flee Mosal, Iraq, when ISIS invaded 18 months previously and had recently immigrated to the United States.” “The men we met with,“ said James, “clearly love the Lord and want to do the best they can for their young people. Hopefully, we can support them in this endeavor! “

[This article was first published in the Sword of the Spirit North American Region (NAR) Newsletter, April Issue, 2017. See NAR website and Newsletter archive.]
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