The Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma (USA) held its annual Acolyte and Youth Convention

Friday, 19 June 2015, 16:58
Over 90 youth, young adult leaders, volunteers and clergy from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma and beyond gathered together on June 17-18 at the Gilmary Catholic Retreat Center in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania for the annual Acolyte and Youth Convention.

The theme of this year’s convention was “An Invitation to Encounter the Living Christ” as a response to the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s initiative “The Vibrant Parish – A Place to Encounter the Living Christ.” The convention’s participants welcomed with warm hearts a special guest at their gathering – Bishop Bohdan Danylo, the new Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, who was the keynote speaker this year.

The convention, organized by the Eparchial Youth Committee under the leadership of Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, the committee’s co-director and pastor of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH and St. Anne’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH; Deacon Myron Spak, Subdeacon Joseph Zappernick, Mr. Joseph Levy and Mr. Michael Levy, members of the committee, provided an opportunity for the youth to encounter the living Christ through prayer, learning and playing in the spirit of the Ukrainian Catholic faith and fellowship.

In his lively and interactive presentation, Bishop Bohdan invited the eparchial youth to be joyful and courageous witnesses to living Christ in their parishes. “You, the youth of our eparchy, are an integral part of the vibrant parish as the place to encounter the living Christ. Your life and service in the parish community brings the majesty of God closer to everyone, whom you meet. May your life and service always be a unique icon of Jesus Christ,” stated the bishop. After the hierarch’s presentation, the youth presented to Bishop Bohdan a canvas with colorful hand prints of all the attendees entitled:  “Hand in hand our eparchy grows.”

Much of the convention was centered on prayer.  Bishop Bohdan presided over a pontifical Divine Liturgy that the convention’s participants took part in. The Hours and the Vespers were beautifully sung by the youth. An examination of conscience, led by Deacon Trevor Fernandes from St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Rossford, OH, was provided in preparation for the Mystery of Repentance. Bishop Bohdan and quite a few priests were available for confession.

The convention participants likewise had a chance to take part in the spiritual conferences provided by Fr. Jason Charron, pastor of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, PA and Deacon Alexander Wroblicky from St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, who currently works as the Director of the Office for Campus Ministry (Secretariat for Leadership Development) of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Fr. Jason and Deacon Alex focused on personal encounter with Christ and the importance of building friendships within the context of the Church community. Subdeacon Paul Abernathy, the Director of FOCUS Pittsburgh, a national Orthodox Christian human development organization, provided a dynamic and engaging presentation that explained his outreach ministry to the poor and homeless as well as the importance of missionary spirit.  The youth prepared hygiene kits, donated by various parishes, for the FOCUS Pittsburgh group. Mr. Andrew Wyrsta, a carpenter, spoke to the youth about encountering Christ in our everyday lives and in our professions. A program for ‘junior’ attendees (ages 8-12) was also provided that emphasized service and liturgical life and prayer.

The youth had opportunities to play sports, get to know each other and compete in the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Religious Edition)” game.  The ‘millionaire’ game was designed to challenge young people with their knowledge of Catechism and encourage young people to learn more about their faith.

This year’s Acolyte and Youth Convention was a wonderful, prayerful and engaging event for the eparchial youth.  The next convention is planned for 15-16 June 2016.

Department of Information of the UGCC

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