"St. Herman's is spiritually the most important Youth Event in ROCOR..."
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"St. Herman's is the most important Youth Event in ROCOR..."
Alex Cooley on his experience In Methuen, MA
Washington - St. Herman's conference, particularly in the Eastern American Diocese, is spiritually the single most important Youth Event in all of ROCOR within the United States.  While there are many other fantastic events - camps, retreats, etc., nothing is so all-inclusive, far-reaching, and so filled with religious substance as St. Herman's.  Even after the recent creation of similar conferences on the West Coast and in the Mid-American Diocese, this conference still draws people from all corners of the United States, Canada, and even abroad.  Its numbers are consistently over 100 youth with an addition of a vast assortment of clergy and educated laypeople; the only larger youth event in the diocese is possibly St. Seraphim's camp.

For many youth, unfortunately, this is the only event all year that they attend with their fellow Orthodox youth. Because of distance or financial restrictions, many can not make trips from the far South, Midwest, or other locations more than once or twice a year.  This should impress the absolute importance of making St. Herman's available to all of these individuals, both logistically and financially. After all - the Church is one body, not an assortment of parishes scattered throughout the countryside.  How will the church function as a single unit, as a member of the Body of Christ, if its members are not connected with one another from a young age?  These conferences, camps, and other events are the veins by which these members of the Body are kept alive - and without those veins, the members wither and grow weak.

  And just as important as being connected is the ability to share experiences. Often the most important things that we take from St. Herman's conference are not told to us in lectures, but are derived from the in-depth conversations that take place outside of the structure, and frequently with individuals who 3 days previously we had never met.  How are these experiences and growths to take place if the conference is only available to the same group of financially stable, local individuals, year after year?  While the old and lasting friendships, which are strengthened with each event of this sort, are critical to our spiritual survival in this world, it is these new and foreign relationships which will take each of us to a new level of understanding and will allow us and the Church to grow and strengthen from within.

And how many other great ideas have been birthed at St. Herman's conference, a result of the collaboration of energetic minds?  A youth choir, a retreat to Jordanville, missionary outreach - it seems as if almost all of the youth's activities find their inception at St. Herman's.  Further, it drives us to take a more faithful or active role in church life.  There are countless stories of individuals beginning to become singers, altar servers, or choosing to become seminarians because of events or discussions at St. Herman's, and every year it is a spiritual rebirth for many of its participants, freshly motivating them to lead a life in Christ. After all, there are few other places outside of a monastery where you can find such a wealth of spiritual knowledge and profundity as is found in the hierarchs, clergy, and elder lay who attend this conference for the benefit of the next generation.

As we all know, as Orthodox Christians we live in an extremely difficult and tempting world.  It is all too easy to gradually fall away from the church, even if we attend weekly services, read spiritual books, etc. St. Herman's conference has always been a place where we are called back, invigorated, just as the Great Fast does for us. But St. Herman's does this in a different way.  It reassures us that we are not alone in our struggle, though often we may feel secluded.  We are motivated by others' successes and struggles, and truly feel as though we are fighting together for salvation - and indeed we are: the Church teaches that salvation is not found individually, but in the Her, together with one another.

Christ is Risen!!!

Wednesday April 14, 2010
St. Mary of Egypt


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