Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter March 5, 2017

“This message is for you if you have teenagers, are related to teenagers, know teenagers, or have any influence, whatsoever, on…teenagers.” – Fr. Anthony Savas

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

While it’s true that I have often used Scriptural verses or writings of the Fathers as opening quotes to each of my pastoral messages, it is equally true that nobody will ever quote me in print unless I do it myself. So, there you go.

Actually, I wanted to capture, as quickly as possible, the attention of parents, grandparents, godparents, and influential adults in the lives of our St. Anna youth. With the Fast having commenced just this week, my heart is directed towards our young people, praying that the purpose, lessons and opportunities of Great Lent are relevant in their lives.

Not that I am demanding monastic expectations from your kids, or mine, but I feel that the overall importance of the disciplines that can only be acquired through ascetic struggle are slipping away and falling into disuse.

It’s hard enough that we live in a world that does not know the simplest meaning of Lenten practices. Our daughter’s Senior Prom is on…get this…Holy Saturday evening. Is Easter thought of so casually that a school in our “local religious environment” can schedule a dance on the eve of, and ultimately reaching into the celebration of the Resurrection? Of course, that question is rhetorical – for we sadly know the answer.

Do our kids make any attempt at fasting, increased prayer or generous acts during these weeks that lead up to the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord. Are we teaching them the value of such practices in our homes. As adults, are we taking the responsibility to be positive examples in this sacred arena?

This much I know; no matter what we teach our kids, and no matter how much they are told by other adult figures in their lives, the benefit of peer-inspiration and accountability is irreplaceable in our kid’s spiritual development. This is why we take every opportunity to bring our kids together for retreats and camps. So, let’s talk about upcoming retreats and camps!

This Sunday, following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, you will have the opportunity to sign up your GOYANs for our annual Lenten Retreat to take place during the weekend of the 17th-19th of March. We are bringing in a dynamic youth worker from Holy Cross Seminary to lead our discussions, and our young people will remain in Heber, UT, on the Third Sunday of Lent to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, together as a gathering of Orthodox Christian kids who share a common Faith and follow common practices. Practices the world sees as silly, irrelevant, archaic and rusty.

If we don’t want our children to adapt a similar outlook on sacredness, spiritual disciplines and holiness, we best take every opportunity to let them grow in their Orthodox Christian walk. And to be sure, they’ll have a great time doing so.

If you have children between 6th and 12th Grades, see Kim Mallas after the Liturgy and sign them up!

Once we have traversed the course of the Fast and have entered into Holy Week, please make plans to have your children attend our Annual Holy Friday Retreat. Our Sunday School has planned a fantastic, fun-filled and spiritually beneficial program for our kids.

This year, we will be pre-registering our kids for the Holy Friday Retreat, due to the quality of the program and the necessary preparations for the craft (it’s a really awesome craft, by the way). Look for the Registration Form in the next Bulletin and sign up your kids!

And lastly, and most importantly, our Archdiocese Summer Camping programs are more exciting than ever. Thousands of young people gather in their respective Metropolis Camps during the summer months to reintroduce themselves to Christ, and to their peers in the most dynamic of ways.

Camp Emmanuel, Summer Camp for the Metropolis of Denver, is one of the most established and well-run programs in the Archdiocese. Within the month of June, there are two sessions; one for high school students and the second for junior high students, in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico. I will be traveling and attending camp with our Junior GOYANs to Camp Emmanuel.

There is no better way to inspire our children into plentiful lives in Christ than camping programs. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to all households with junior and senior high school students and informing them of the benefits of Camp Emmanuel, and camping in general. Please visit the following link to get current in all information regarding Camp Emmanuel 2017.

May the good Lord Who guides us in our Lenten journeys, and Who lifts up the children in His special, loving care, continue to encourage our youth in the ways of the Kingdom. And may they continue to love, serve, worship and honor His holy Name.

With Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony

Remember that this Sunday is the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Bring your favorite icons from home for your children to process, and you to lift up.
Then join us for Pan-Orthodox Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at 6:00 pm with our sister Orthodox communities.