Thanks to donors like you, most paritcipants were inspired to take confession and communion during the conference.
United by similar experiences and faith, Americans, Russians, Canadians, Australians, Serbians, Greeks and people from all stages of life and careers came together for the biggest St. Herman’s Conference turnout of the decade. More than 200 participants made their way through the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Arlington, VA, where familiar and new members mingled and quickly became friends.
The conference took place December 23-27th, 2016 and was graciously hosted by St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC. Courtesy of the local committee, cathedral’s rector, and FFA board member Archpriest Victor Potapov and St. John’s Sisterhood, participants had the opportunity to attend an All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy in the epochal cathedral. Edifying lectures for young Orthodox participants were prepared by honoured guest speakers such as Priest Patrick Viscuso, priest scholar and canonist of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America, and Archpriest Peter Perekrestov, senior priest from Joy of All Who Sorrow Cathedral in San Francisco.
Special thanks to FFA donors
The St. Herman’s Youth Conference of 2016 was made possible by the generosity of the donors to the Fund for Assistance (FFA) to the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. They have been faithfully supporting the three St. Herman’s conferences held every December from the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast. Participants expressed their gratitude to FFA in a memorable video that can be viewed here.
On the first day of the St. Herman’s conference, Saturday, December 24, 2016, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal, Canada opened with an inspirational speech. He reminded young Orthodox participants the most significant goal of the conference was for spiritual edification and communal Confession and Communion at Liturgy on Sunday as well as social and emotional support. In his closing remarks, Archbishop Gabriel officially opened the conference with his blessing and his traditional statement, “Since this year we have 200 participants here, I want there to be 100 marriages. Eventually. Maybe in 10 years?”
“Since this year we have 200 participants here, I want there to be 100 marriages. Eventually. Maybe in 10 years?”
Your prayer, pilgrimage and nurtured faith is answer to decline in Orthodoxy
In the U.S., about 800,000 people identify as Orthodox Christians and only 26% attend Liturgy weekly. Fr. Patrick Viscuso gave a presentation called “Being the 1% in a Non-Orthodox World” that focussed on Orthodox ways in the context of multiculturalism and assimilation. There is a steady decline of marriages and baptisms. Some Orthodox youth who attend college will never step into a church again.
Fr. Patrick addressed two major problems that contribute to the decline of Orthodoxy: nationalism and secularism. His solutions to this daunting challenge are prayer, pilgrimage and to nurture faith that is individualized and sincere.
Fr. Patrick’s lecture and the fellowship with the clergy – 16 priests and four deacons – spiritually moved our youth so much that most received Holy Communion on Sunday from five chalices in the presence of the holy relics of St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco (brought to Washington by Fr. Peter Perekrestov).
You gave participants an opportunity to learn about saints
Two days after Fr. Patrick’s lecture, Fr. Peter mesmerized participants with his lecture on St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco. He guided the audience through the story of St. John and told colorful, little-known anecdotes that revealed St. John’s inner life.
Fr. Peter spoke about how St. John faced enmity and dislike throughout his whole life and quoted a priest who said, while “we all want to repose with the saints, we don’t really want to live with them.” He concluded his lecture with footage from St. John’s life that revealed him as a human with flaws and character, yet he was unquestionably holy.
Participants enjoyed workshops and discussions because of your generosity
Along with inspiring lectures from prominent speakers, every evening participants attended workshops and discussions such as choir rehearsals, folk singing, games and guitar playing. The singing by 50 young people at Vigil and Liturgy was magnificent.
Sunday participants were given an opportunity to explore the capital for a few hours as well as take part in an optional photo challenge. The prize went to a group of Australians who managed to visit every monument in Washington in three hours.
One of the most memorable activities was the gingerbread church competition. Participants had one hour to produce the most impressive or canonically accurate church as possible. After an hour of sticky fingers and competition, some brilliant houses of prayer had been constructed.
A spiritually united family – thanks to your support and kindness
Perhaps a little dazed and exhausted, participants of the 37th Annual St. Herman Youth Conference set-off in various directions feeling happier and spiritually stronger. The only other consensus from everyone was that they’d like another conference to take place sooner rather than later.