“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. [ Hebrews 10:24-25 ]

Antiochian Orthodox parishes around Australia have made the month of February an annual event as ‘Youth Month’ to remind us all of the importance of our youth as a part of the church and as it’s future.

A beautiful initiative brought to us by His Eminence, Metropolitan, Paul Saliba of Thrice Blessed Memory, which has been embraced and continued by our inspiring youth under the patronage of His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios. They have gathered together and organised a series of events and spiritual education initiatives that have grown our fellowship and truly made the month a special one.

What a month we’ve had at St. Mary’s Nativity parish! Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

Dinner with the Disciples:

Each Sunday evening, after 6pm Divine Liturgy, we have gathered together to share a fun and casual, yet wholesome meal together. Our youth has enthusiastically planned and prepared a dinner and theme for each evening, to which all are welcome. Whether it was a sausage sizzle or sandwiches night, we’ve enjoyed each dinner together, as well as our quality time spent with each other as brothers and sisters is Christ.

It has been a great opportunity to make new friends in our parish and to help build crucial relationships which strengthen our community. In these evenings we don’t just socialise. We listen to one another, pray together and guide each other to Christ. We have cherished these evenings enough that we hope to continue them each Sunday now!

So, why a dinner? Dinners bring people together. Christ often used meals to engage with others as well as to teach important lessons. With these dinners we have found a space to nurture our fellowship – a crucial aspect of our lives as Orthodox faithful. As Christians we are called to more than just attendance and worship. Through fellowship we discover that we all have a role in the church, with talents and strengths which can be used to help grow our community, as well as to help those around us in need. We learn to love and serve God by serving each other also, as love and good works go hand in hand.

We have also had great educational opportunities such as an enlightening talk on God’s will by His Eminence, Metropolitan Basilios, who prepared a discussion for us on important questions that we, as Orthodox faithful, may find ourselves asking on our journey to salvation.

We have watched and supported our fellow youth members to write and deliver a sermon each Sunday during Divine Liturgy, with the guidance of Fr. John.

Our youth has also continued our Sunday School, where we encourage young children and students to attend structured classes run by caring teachers every Sunday morning. A Sunday School Liturgy is held for students on the first Sunday of each month. Our teachers aim to create a loving space for the students where they can develop lasting friendships, learn about Orthodoxy, and grow together in their community and faith.

As Youth Month draws to an end, we reflect on the importance of fellowship in the Orthodox faithful life, as well as supporting our youth by fostering their spiritual and personal growth. We finish up with the realisation and goal also, that we should approach every month as though it is Orthodox Youth Month!

Glory to God for all things!

By Mishlene Khouri, Youth Committee Member