Diocesan Youth Department
The Diocesan Youth Department is chaired by the Very Reverend Archpriest Quentin de Castelbajac of the Parish of St John the Russian in Lyon, France, with the aid of many clergy and laypeople throughout the Diocese. While youth activities are organised at every parish of the Diocese, this page reports the latest news of those activities as well as youth events organised at the Diocesan level, including major youth conferences.
Latest Youth Department News Items
‘The Church is the Future of our Children’
So wrote the saintly Metropolitan Philaret of New York, the third First Hierarch of our Russian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora, in his Law of God published in the 1930s. The Metropolitan’s words were an important inversion of the popular, but incorrect, phrase often heard then and still in our days: ‘The children are the future of the Church.’ As he emphasised to the flock, the future of the Church, just as her past and present, is Christ; it is Christ’s Church which is the future of our children, who will find in the Church the haven for their souls, joy in this life, and the entrance into the Eternal Kingdom.
For this reason, the Church ministers with tireless zeal to bring up her children in the love of God, His Law, and the faith and life of His Church. To this end, in 2020 our Diocese established a new Diocesan Youth Department, dedicated to coordinating the many activities for children and youth already being carried out in various ways across the parishes of our eleven countries and multitude of languages.
The Diocesan Youth Department is chaired by the Very Reverend Archpriest Quentin de Castelbajac of the Parish of St John the Russian in Lyon, France, with the aid of many clergy and laypeople throughout the Diocese.
The Annual St Herman’s Youth Conference
The tradition of holding annual youth conferences dedicated to the memory of St Herman the Wonderworker is longstanding in various Dioceses of our Church Abroad. The feastday of St Herman is 12th / 25th December, falling therefore in a period when the majority of the young people of our Church are on school and work holidays, while at the same time not yet marking the Nativity of Christ on our Church calendar. This enables them to be free to travel, and so St Herman’s feastday marks, each year, an ideal opportunity to gather youth (of ages 15-25) together as fellow Orthodox Christians in order to grow in the faith and in their Christian friendships with one another.
Photographs from recent St Herman’s Conferences in other Dioceses.
In other Dioceses of our Church, where already for many years youth have been gathering each year for these conferences, they have become important annual events: centred on strengthening their Orthodox lives, the conferences provide not only liturgical life centred on the feast, but also education in the form of talks and lectures from invited speakers, practical workshops (for example, in making prosphora, iconography, singing, serving, woodworking), as well as the precious opportunity to gather together with other Orthodox young people — an all-too-rare occurrence in our modern world in the Diaspora — to make and strengthen friendships and meet fellow youth outside of their own parish. The conferences always involve many social elements, excursions, activities and other elements intended to foster this social dimension of Godly Orthodox lives.
From 2023, our Diocese is initiating this custom for our own young people, joining the other Dioceses of our Church already doing the same. Only a few years ago we marked the 50th Jubilee of the glorification of St Herman by the Church Abroad, and we pray that the ‘St Herman’s – Europe’ Youth Conference will become an annual activity of our Youth Department, taking place each year in the days surrounding the feastday of St Herman, held in a different location within the Diocese on each occasion. This custom of the conference being ‘hosted’ by different Diocesan parishes permits the youth to see the diversity of our Diocese as well as experience the social and natural wonders of the diverse places in which our parishes thrive.
One of the unique dimensions of our Diocese is the great multitude of languages that it encompasses — which also poses a unique challenge to group events. The St Herman’s Youth Conferences will be multi-lingual, working in the three principal languages of our Diocese (Russian, English and French), with talks provided with translations, but with different languages used in the informal settings of the gatherings, enabling youth to learn new phrases and expressions in each other’s languages, building yet further their sense of community and friendship with those of other countries and tongues.
The St Herman’s Youth Conferences are normally 3-4 days in length. The new Youth Department is currently at work arranging the details for the first conference, and as soon as these are finalised, news and details will be announced here.
Video Compilation from St Herman’s West 2019
A video of moments from last year’s St Herman’s Youth Conference as held in the Western American Diocese, providing a ‘taste’ of what is in store for the young people of our Diocese.
Photos of St Herman’s Conferences Past
Some photographs from St Herman’s Youth Conferences as held in other Dioceses of our Church in recent years.