In December 2016, James Munk, the North American Region Kairos Director, and Ed Moccia, Saint Paul’s Outreach (a university outreach of the Sword of the Spirit) New Jersey Mission Director, went on retreat at the Mor Aphrem Center in New Jersey. They joined the clergy of the Syriac Orthodox Church Eastern US Archdiocese for a conference focused on improving youth work in the Archdiocese.
The Syriac Orthodox Church traces it beginnings to the earliest years of the Christian era. It has churches throughout the Middle East , Iraq, and India. The Syriac Orthodox Church now has churches in Europe, the Americas, and Australia as well. Our Sword of the Spirit community, People of God, in Beirut, Lebanon, has a strong connection with the Syriac Orthodox Church and suggested James and Ed as a resource. Archbishop Mor Dionysius John Kawak acted on that suggestion and invited James and Ed to address this conference of priests from his Archdiocese.
James and Ed made six one-hour presentations to the 18 priests and the Archbishop. These presentations outlined the Sword of the Spirit’s approach to working with youth.
– Understanding Youth Culture
– The Postmodern Mind
– Sword of the Spirit Theory of Youth Work
– Raising Up Young Leaders
– Working with Transitional Adults (From high school into college or from college into professional life)
– Improving Your Parish Youth Work
James and Ed stressed the importance of engaging the youth themselves in Christian mission, a key element of creating radical disciples. They suggested that the Archdiocese bring together some of their more committed young members to develop a strategy for engaging young people in the church.
Plans have already been made for subsequent connections. One of the priests from New Jersey will be visiting the Saint Paul’s Outreach chapter at Seaton Hall University, especially to observe the men’s household environment there. Another priest from Michigan plans to attend the Kairos YES! Retreat—he may even bring along some youth from his parish. There are many opportunities for joint action in the future.
James and Ed found great inspiration among the Syriac clergy. “I was having lunch with one of the priests,” Ed said, “he shared with me how he had to flee Mosal, Iraq, when ISIS invaded 18 months previously and had recently immigrated to the United States.” “The men we met with, “ said James, “clearly love the Lord and want to do the best they can for their young people. Hopefully, we can support them in this endeavor!“
Adapted from the North American Region Newsletter, spring 2017. Used with permission.