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DIOCESE OF CHICAGO AND MID-AMERICA: December 14, 2007
Protection of the Mother of God Parish in Goshen, IN, Hosts a Youth Conference Entitled “Marriage in Orthodoxy: Saving Your Soul in Tandem”

This year's Thanksgiving Adult Youth Conference in the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America took place at the Protection of the Mother of God Parish in Goshen, Indiana on the topic: “Marriage in Orthodoxy: Saving Your Soul in Tandem.” The lectures were presented by Fr John Moses of All Saints of North America Church in Middlebrook, VA, as well as by Protinica Mira Kostur of St Elijah Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Merrillville, Indiana. They were very enlightening and captured the interests of all the members of the conference.

Starting on Friday November 23, everyone met at the Holy Virgin Protection Orthodox Church in Goshen, IN, in the late afternoon. Following a short moleben, the conference participants gathered in the Parish Hall to eat dinner and get to know each other. Everyone was so eager to discuss the topic of this year's conference, that right after dinner we jumped into a discussion of Orthodox Christian marriage. As we listed the good and bad aspects of marriage as well as the reasons that people get married and divorced we all started digging deeper than we imagined we would go into our own thoughts on this subject. This brainstorming activity was a great way to get people thinking about the meaning of marriage beyond the wedding day. Having watched the movie “Ostrov” after our conversation, the participants headed to bed exhausted and deep in thought.

Saturday, November 24, we went on a tour of the Amish Acres Historic Farm. It was a very interesting experience for all of us. We walked through the grounds that the Amish live on as well as through the houses that they live in, learning about their education and their life styles as well as their religion. Following that, we had lunch at an Amish restaurant. Everything was homemade and absolutely delicious! Then as everyone gathered back at the church hall we started the lectures. Fr John's lecture contained the idea that his wife is his monastery. He talked of the importance of finding a spouse with whom you can practice asceticism within your “home church.” Protinica Mira Kostur focused on how blessed the married state is as well as how one lives ideally and practically in the married state if one's goal is (as it should be) to save one's soul and ones spouse's soul through marriage. It was great to hear a woman's point of view, especially one married to a priest. After the lectures the participants attended a beautifully sung vigil followed by dinner and then free time to interact with each other.

Sunday, November 25, began with a hierarchal Divine Liturgy at which His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland presided. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, several long-standing members of the Protection parish were recognized for their good works and Christian example of piety in support of the parish. Following Divine Liturgy, the participants as well as all church members had a fabulous lunch at the parish hall prepared by the parish Sisterhood. The conference concluded with a talk given by Bishop Peter back at the church. It included his views on the importance of marrying only within the faith as well as a very interesting discussion of the monastic life in the presence of seminarians at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.

The tradition of regular, intimate gatherings of the diocesan youth has taken hold in the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America under the direction of Bishop Peter and the work of the Diocesan Youth Committee. The young people look forward to these gatherings and are already planning the next such gathering around the civil New Year's holiday.

Anna A. Makovik
Youth Group Coordinator
St Vladimir Church
Ann Arbor, MI

Note: Pictures of the Youth Conference can be found here