Seminarians Participate in Youth Conference
From December 23–27, 2011, seminarians Anthony Williams (fourth year) and John Martin (second year) participated in the annual St. Herman’s Youth Conference, which was held this year in Ottawa, Canada. Nearly a hundred Orthodox youth were in attendance. Conferees stayed at the Château Cartier hotel, and services were held at the Protection of the Holy Virgin Memorial Church.
The St. Herman's Youth Conference was started more than three decades ago at Holy Trinity Monastery so that the young people and families of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad could strengthen their faith and make new friends during a time when Christmas was celebrated on the Gregorian Calendar. It was named in honor of St. Herman of Alaska (feast day December 12/25), one of the first Russian Orthodox missionaries to North America. From that time, the conference has been held at various venues around the Eastern American Diocese, as well as Canada.. Due to the success of the St. Herman’s Conference in the Eastern American Diocese, conferences are now held at the same time in the Midwestern Diocese and Western American Diocese.
His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, attended the event. He served the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy with His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel (Chemodakov) of Canada and the many other ROCOR clergymen attending the conference.
Attendees were also blessed with the presence of two wonder-working icons of the Mother of God: the Kursk-Root Icon and the Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon from Hawaii.. Reader Nectarios Yangson, the guardian of the Iveron Icon, explained to participants how he discovered the miraculous icon.
The first several days of the conference were focused on lectures and discussions. There were three lectures at the conference. Priest Viacheslav Davidenko of Holy Trinity Church in Toronto spoke about role models in the spiritual life, using examples from the lives of saints. Priest Sergei Sveshnikov of the New Martyrs Russian Church in Mulino, Oregon, gave a talk on living life as a sacrament. Finally, Nicholas Chapman, the administrator of the publication and bookstore operations for Holy Trinity Monastery, spoke about the first Orthodox convert in America, Philip Ludwell III, and his descendants who have kept the faith for more than two hundred years.
Participants also broke up into discussion groups on topics such as the spiritual life, dating and marriage, and living an Orthodox life in the world. There was also a large panel discussion featuring the conference clergy, where they answered questions from the audience.
At the hotel, conferees played games inside and outside in the snow. They also visited downtown Ottawa, where they shopped at the ByWard Market, sang Christmas carols, and toured the Canadian Parliament.
On the last evening of the conference, Monday the 26th, there was a closing banquet and talent show. Both Anthony Williams and John Martin participated. They sang an Irish wedding song, and John also played the ukulele and sang. Finally, the rector of the Protection Church, Priest Stelian Liabotis, thanked all the organizers and attendees of the conference.
Priest Peter Jackson, the administrator of the conference, was very pleased with seminarian participation. “I was delighted that our seminarians could participate fully in this year’s conference in Ottawa. Hopefully more can be done to finance their attendance in the years to come. It is so vital for the seminarians to be able to make contact with the ROCOR youth.”
The next St. Herman’s Conference will be held in Hartford, Connecticut, under the auspices of St. Panteleimon Church.
Article and Photos: John Martin