My Beloved Youth,

This past month has been a difficult time in the life of our cities and nation. Many people, old and young, are sad, frightened, and confused because of what happened on September 11th. The tragic events of this day have affected many lives, including our own, as well as the lives of people all over the world.

In this time when you are asking yourselves questions about the future, when you are thinking about important issues such as good and evil, life and death, when you are considering the function and necessity of your faith in God, I want to reassure you that our loving Lord is among us and with each one of us as our protector and our comforter.

This presence of the Resurrected Christ in our lives is confirmed on a daily basis in the prayer, worship, and ministry of the Church. It is also shown in the lives of Christians as they reveal the life-giving power of God through acts of love and service. This is why it is so important that now, throughout your life, and certainly in the most difficult and challenging moments, you seek truth and peace through prayer and by gathering with other Orthodox Christians for worship, teaching, and discussion. In their great love for you, your priests, your youth directors and advisors, and your teachers want to help you think clearly, discuss properly, and pray intensely during this critical time. It is also important that you pray together with your family and discuss the issues that are of concern to you, especially after September 11th.

Through the acts of kindness and generosity you have seen in the weeks following this tragedy, you know that the bonds of love are essential in preserving life and giving hope. Thus, I pray that you will be strengthened by the love of your family, through your compassion for the needs of others, and by the presence of our Heavenly Father who lovingly embraces you. As you are both the present and the future of our parishes, cities, and nation you can be an example to all "in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity" (I Timothy 4:12).

I want you to know that many people care about you, and first of all the Bishops of our Church in America. We all care deeply about your well-being, your future, and your happiness. Most importantly, always be assured that our loving Lord Jesus Christ will be with you and take care of you no matter what happens.

My fervent prayers and the rich blessings of our Heavenly Father are with you.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America