Youth Encounter 2007
Take a week at Camp Nazareth and compress it into a weekend and you have the National Jr. ACRY sponsored Diocesan wide Youth Encounter held each year at Camp Nazareth.The youth gathered in the camp Church in the evening for the service of vespers in preparation of the coming Lord’s Day. The National ACRY president Matthew Pfifer came and shared time with the group at worshiping with them at the vespers and then later sharing the meal with them at dinner. Dinner was served in the main lodge with a spirit filled campfire in the recreation room of the lodge. Later in the evening the group enjoyed some fellowship time at a dance. The evening was concluded with Evening Prayers in the Church.
Youth from around our diocese from New York to Maryland from New Jersey to Ohio attended this years Encounter. Fr. Miles Zdinak, the National Jr. ACRY spiritual advisor let the Encounter. Fr. Michael Ellis, the camp director, along with his wife, Pañi Jesica and the staff of Camp Nazareth played host to the event and kept the participates comfortable and well fed through the event.
The youth began arriving Friday evening at the camp, which is located just North of the town of Mercer, Pennsylvania. The weather was cool and a little damp. However the spirit of the participants and staff was warm and uplifting. Those present had time Friday evening to spend with friends catching up on events since the past summer.
Saturday began with morning prayers in the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodios followed by breakfast in the main lodge. Fr. Miles gave the religious presentation on “What is Truth.” The main focus of the talk was how do we know what truth is in a world full of so many versions of truth. The emphasis on discovering the source of truth was directed to Christ, Himself. Who states I am the Truth. The youth learned that Truth was not so much a thing as it is a person, that is, Jesus Christ our Lord. So as Christ is unchanging so is Truth. Fr. Miles spoke about the need to hone one’s spiritual discipline in order for one to be prepared to sort through the many offerings of truth to get to the real Truth, that is Jesus Christ. He also spoke to the youth on how the world needs us, as Christian to be windows to the Truth. Fr. Miles expressed the desire to the youth for the world to be able to see Christ in us and for the world to be able to experience Christ’s Love and Truth through us as examples of the True Faith. We are his witnesses in the world to the Truth. We must know the Truth to share it with others. The talk also focused on aspects of spiritual discipline, such as: daily prayer, worship, confession, fasting, and the partaking of the body and blood or our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the most precious mystery of the Holy Eucharist. IOCC Prayer Journals were given out to all participants.
The youth participated in some craftwork following lunch. They had the option of making a lamented cross, decorated with multicolored tissue paper or doing some finger weaving. The president of the Jr. ACRY Katherine Stienstra led the youth in the craft projects. The group of youth and staff played a rousing game of touch football down on the large ball field after the crafts were completed.
Sunday morning arrived with the glorious sing and celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The youth, staff, and local parishioner gathered in the Church to worship the Lord; hear the gospel; and receive the Eucharist. Fr. Miles spoke in the sermon of the need for all Christians to be healers now that Christ has healed humanity by His incarnation and healed out relationship with God by His death and His resurrection, which Saint Paul spoke of in his Epistle to the Ephesians which is read on that 24th Sunday following Pentecost.
The group had breakfast following the Liturgy, and then each made ready his or her departure to return to his or her home. Many voiced their desire to return for the diocesan Lenten Retreat to be held at Camp Nazareth during Lent of 2008. So if you missed this year's Encounter make reading to come next November. Also look for announcements of the upcoming Lenten Retreats held by the Dioceses and hosted by the National ACRY.