We are excited to announce a renewed commitment to our Youth at St. Mary. We have recently formed a Youth Committee to guide and support youth initiatives in the parish. The Youth Committee is comprised of Fr. Elie, Lois Kilsey, Chris Kilsey, Elmer Stanley, Cory Dupont, Stephanie Chowning and Joe Samra (anyone who would like to join the committee is welcome!). This summer we have met to review needs, make recommendations and form action items. The Youth Programs will include Sunday School teacher training, Family Nights, Parent Programming and a “reboot” of our Teen SOYO.
A key element to our planning for the future is the hiring of a part-time Youth Coordinator. This position has been made possible by a grant from the Charitable Gift Program of our Church. The Parish Council is authorized by our Constitution to use one half of the previous years profits from this fund for operating expenses of our Church once the fund exceeded $250,000. The Charitable Gift Committee as well as the Parish Council overwhelmingly supported the use of the funds for this purpose. What better way to utilize some of the profit from this endowment than to support our youth, the future of our Church? We are grateful to the Charitable Gift Program and all its participants for their support.
After thorough interviews and reference checks, we are pleased to announce we have hired Emile Sarkis from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cranston, RI as our part-time Youth Director. He has been hired for this August through next spring. Emile is in his last year pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, MA. He is energetic, personable and is an experienced youth leader. His main focus at St. Mary will be Teen SOYO. Please be sure to introduce yourself when you see him around the parish.
Some of my most memorable moments of childhood come from summer camp, which fed my eagerness to become involved with church youth programs. I began my experience in youth ministry at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston Camp in 2008 as a summer camp counselor, working with children ages 8 to 18. I continued as a counselor the following year, and returned to camp in the summers of 2012 and 2013, devoting my summers to being a camp counselor. Additionally, I worked for the Boston Metropolis JOY and GOYA Basketball program from 2010 to 2012. In June of 2012, I went on a YOCAMA (Young Orthodox Christian Missions Activates) mission trip. I was a part of a group that had been sent to the Black Feet Native American Reservation in Northern Montana. I was asked to be a seminarian on the trip, to help with services as well as supervising the teens on various projects. Throughout the past year I have been helping with various youth events at my home parish of Annunciation in Cranston.
This success of this youth initiative will not be based solely on one person or a youth committee, rather it will be the result of our entire parish getting behind it and making it a priority. The future of our church will depend on our success.