Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate: Faith in Youth

There can, of course, be no future of faith unless young people come to understand the cardinal importance of faith for living a full, rewarding, and happy life. To instill in young people an appreciation for the value of faith is the responsibility of parents, teachers, and clergy. There are also numerous important initiatives and associations dedicated to teaching youth about the centrality of faith that deserve the support of all people who believe.

Saint John Chrysostom reminds us of the importance of instilling the values of faith in our children: “If good teaching is imprinted on an immature soul, then no one will be able to scrape it off when that soul becomes mature and inflexible, as it often happens with a wax seal….You shall be the first to enjoy the good fruit of your effort if you rear a good son, and then God will enjoy it, too. You are doing it for your own sake.”

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is a passionate advocate for young adult ministry initiatives, and he has said this about the Greek Orthodox Young Adult League (YAL): “This pivotal ministry stands as an exemplar within our Archdiocese—a testament that thrived, faced a decline, and then experienced a revival. It was rejuvenated over the past several years by the impassioned efforts of young individuals nationwide seeking something more.” He rejoiced at the renewal of interest in and engagement with the National YAL Conference, “and witness our young adult ministries across the Archdiocese emerge as a robust and integral component of national youth and young adult ministry.”

This is as it should be, for there is no doubt that if insufficient attention is paid to young adult ministries, the Church will have no future at all. Another vitally important initiative is The Pilgrimage of Discovery, an “annual program is a 7-day, all-expense paid, religious and cultural annual summer journey to Constantinople awarded to Orthodox Christian young adults across America, connecting them with their ancestral religious roots. Participants deepen their Orthodox faith through a curated, guided experience, exploring holy sites, having a private audience with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and much more. This immersive journey creates a lasting impact on identity, faith, family, community and culture and helps secure the continuity of the Orthodox church from a grassroots level.”

There are numerous initiatives in other faith traditions that are designed to appeal to young people and lead them to a faith that will sustain them in life’s trials and fortify them with sound values. The Roman Catholic Church “celebrates the lives and presence of its young people annually. This celebration takes place on multiple levels, often on the local stage in towns, parishes and dioceses, leading up to the international World Youth Day celebration that takes place every 2-4 years, typically in the summer months and on major scale. The Jubilee of Youth and Young Adults in 2025 is a chance for pilgrims around the world to come together with young people from every continent to pray, worship, and celebrate the Catholic faith.”

Muslim Youth of North America states that it “operates nationwide in a beautiful cycle centered around youth serving youth. These youth learn to be confident and empowered Muslims that become productive and engaged members of society.” Hindu Youth for Unity, Virtues and Action says that it endeavors “to create a platform to protect, preserve, practice, and promote Hindu Dharma. We aim to develop character and leadership skills in our members by emphasizing values such as self-discipline, self-confidence, and a spirit of selfless service to the society.”

All of these organizations and many others like them are designed to pass on the treasures of faith to a new generation, and to ensure as much as possible that the sustaining power of faith is not lost to the world. Young people of faith should be encouraged to unite across religious traditions, and to make common cause to suffuse the wider world with the power of faith. As the Lord Jesus said: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

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