NEW YORK: July 8, 2009
The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad Sends Greetings To the
Concord of Orthodox Youth Conference
The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad sent the following greeting to the Concord of Orthodox Youth Conference opening on July 10, 2009, in Kursk:
Dear brothers and sisters, participants and organizers of the “Concord of Orthodox Youth” Conference:
I send you my heartfelt greetings on the opening of this conference, which will be attended by young people of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, but also from abroad: from Europe, Australia and North and South America.
I express my genuine gratitude to the organizers of this event: the International Slavic Literature Foundation and the Kursk-Root Hermitage Foundation.
Most of the participants from other countries are descendants of Russian émigrés of the third generation. They all actively participate in parish life, and they all speak Russian. For them this conference is a unique opportunity to participate in the discussion of general church matters and acquaint themselves with youth work in Kursk, Moscow, the dioceses of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and also to come to know their historical homeland better.
I believe that the more people communicate with each other, the fewer barriers there will be in the creation of peace and good will in our Orthodox home, whatever continent we live on. This is especially true if young people pray together, partake of Communion together, and venerate holy relics and icons together.
You have gathered in the God-preserved land of Kursk. This is a special place, where the great holy icon, the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign,” first appeared. During the time of persecution of the Orthodox Church, this holy icon was fated to become the Hodigitria [Guide] of the Russian emigration, the protectress of those who fate would have leave their homeland, and, settling abroad, preserve the traditions and language of their ancestors for decades, but most of all, rear their children in the Orthodox Faith.
We see today the fruits of this education and the miraculous protection of this holy Icon in our youth.
It is deeply symbolic that today’s conference precedes the visit to Moscow and Kursk of a great icon of Orthodoxy, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. The conference participants who will travel to Germany will have an early opportunity to pray before the Icon, as it is making a special trip there from Canada.
Dear brothers and sisters! Today we joyfully announce that, through the efforts and cares of Archbishop German of Kursk and Rylsk, and of the Kursk-Root Foundation, these youth forums in Kursk will become an annual event.
Work with youth is genuine service in the harvest-fields of Orthodoxy. Especially important in this work is to teach young people to discern what is good and what is evil in today’s world, to be true witnesses to God’s truth.
The world is full of temptations, and not everyone, even among churchgoing youth,has the ability and confidence to resist them. But we must firmly hold to God and not betray His Holy Church.
We are all called upon to serve God, the Fatherland and our neighbor in fulfilling our human mission. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10), taught Holy Apostle Peter. And the Lord expects from us, my dear ones, that the gifts He grants us be used for the good of the Church and our neighbors.
I am certain that this conference will help Orthodox youth sense that they are full-fledged children of the Mother Church, which is need of their labors, talents and care.
I invoke God’s blessings upon all the conference participants. I believe and hope that this event will serve the blessed work of bringing closer and increasing understanding between the young people of Russia, the Orthodox lands of the former CIS and youth abroad of Russian descent.
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia