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KURSK: August 12, 2010
The Concord of Orthodox Youth Conference Comes to an End

On Friday, August 6, 2010, the Concord of Orthodox Youthreturned to Kursk after a pilgrimage to Belarus. After a long overnight bus ride, the exhausted youth went to rest. Since the following day, the delegations were to stage performances, there was little time to regain their energy. Each delegation of the Concord was to perform in some way. The Russian youth had already performed at the Shchepkin Cinema on the first day of the event, and the Belarussian on the second day, as earlier reported. These delegations had prepared their performances before the Concord event began, and only had to rehearse to be ready. The Ukrainian delegation did not have the opportunity to rehearse, since their leader, Fr Andrei Kinashevsky, arrived in Kursk only on the eve of their departure to Paris.

All three of these delegations were comprised of young people who lived in close proximity: the Russian were from Kursk (though there were also individuals from St Petersburg and Moscow), the Ukrainians were from Ternopol, and Belarussian were from Vizda. But the delegation of youth from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia were from all over the worldAustralia, the US, Venezuela and Germany. Many of them did not know each other. For this reason the Ukrainian and ROCOR delegations asked for some extra time to prepare for a performance. In addition, it would have been difficult for the youth from abroad to bring special costumes from such a distance. For this reason, the ROCOR delegation had to find time to rehearse in addition to all the planned activities. Some numbers were prepared in advance, but they had to be rehearsed and fine-tuned. Protopriest Gabriel Makarov and Protopriest Yaroslav Belikov spent a great deal of time preparing the program, and the youth helped with suggestions and endless enthusiasm. Now, after a long overnight bus ride, they faced dress rehearsals and ironing out details.

On the morning of August 7, the Concordgroup went to the town of Zolotukhino, not far from Kursk-Root Hermitage, the site of the Convent of St Alexei, Man of God. This monastery was founded only a few years ago, and two years ago a defunct sovkhoz [Soviet farm] was acquired for its premises. Over this short time, significant donations have flowed in, and two churches were built, along with offices and residential space, and the 35 residents of the convent now labor and tend to the local flock. The youth spent the first half of the day in monastic obediences in the garden and barn. After lunch, they visited the retired Schema-Metropolitan Yuvenaly, who contributed greatly to the reestablishment of Kursk-Root Hermitage. The late Metropolitan Laurus and Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev) spoke highly of Vladyka Yuvenaly. Both visited Kursk long before the discussions which resulted in the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion of the Russian Orthodox Church,.

After Divine Liturgy celebrated on Sunday, August 8, in Znamensky Cathedral in Kursk, at which His Eminence Archbishop German officiated, a moleben was served to plead for the end of the long drought: the region was suffering a second month of record temperatures with practically no rain. The drought has been affecting more and more guberniyas [provinces], and Moscow has been covered by such dense smog from the burning woods and turf that Domodedovo and Sheremetievo Airports were forced to cancel many flights. After a visit to Holy Trinity Convent, where the nuns offered the young travelers lunch, they were taken to Shchepkin Cinema, where the movie Pop [Priest] was shown. This film is an effort by the renowned director Vladimir Khotinenko to illustrate the life of a priest who opens a parish in Pskov during the German occupation. He resumes conducting divine services in a church previously desecrated by Communists and transformed into a night club. He is forced to maneuver between the German occupiers, the villagers who had turned away from God and the Red partisans. Later that evening, the Ukrainian Concord delegation gave their performance at Kursk-Root Pilgrimage Center.

Monday, August 9, was the feast day of Great Martyr Panteleimon, and began with Divine Liturgy. Fr Gabriel, the spiritual leader of the Australian contingent, marked his 29th wedding anniversary on this day, and Fr Andrei Kinashevsky, head of the Ukrainian contingent celebrated his 12th anniversary. After Liturgy at the Pilgrimage Center, the youth congratulated the two priests.

The rest of the day was devoted to preparing for the performances. The delegates from abroad proposed making pelmeni for dinner; it turned out that many had never tasted this national dish. Volunteer set about making the Russian-style dumplings: many more came forth than were expected, and in two hours, they prepared several thousand pelmeni to feed the Concord participants and other guests.

Before the performance began, a final meeting was held, at which the delegates were able to express their wishes for the future and their gratitude. Especially touching were the words of a Ksenia Gartman from Venezuela, who said that she was moved by the fact that she and the other two South American delegates saw that they were not the only young Orthodox Christians in the world: they exist not only in Russia but in other corners of the world. The youth expressed the desire to set aside more time for socializing at future events, and for time with priests, and also expressed thanks to the organizers of the Concord of Orthodox Youth headed by Mr SP Loktionov.

The concert was held that evening with volunteers performing various acts. It was heartwarming to hear the spiritual guides sing a romantic song accompanied by guitar. After the concert, refreshments were served as the young conferees continued singing their favorite songs.

On Tuesday, the group headed for an excursion to Kursk, after which they began to prepare for an evening ball. A great deal of time was needed, as girls tended to their appearance, the young men ironed their clothing before finally proceeding to the hall.

Because of the unusual heat, they decided to hold the event in the Pilgrimage Center hall, since it is equipped with a good air-conditioning system. The young people danced to classical and folk music after which the young talents resumed singing a wide array of songs as the ball came to an end.

Farewells then began, as the Belarussian contingent had to leave by 2 am.

The following morning, the rest of the Concordgroup said goodbye. It was touching to see young people who were complete strangers only a month earlier bade tearful farewells, maybe forever. They exchanged addresses and e-mails with the hope that they would long continue their friendships in the virtual world until meeting again in person.

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