On Saturday/Sunday, January 14/15, 2023 about 20 young adults (18-25 or so) gathered at our St. Vladimir Church in Ann Arbor. Fr. Andrei Sommer, Vice Chair of ROCOR’s Youth Committee, joined us from the Synodal Cathedral in New York City and led the activities for the weekend. Fr. Andrei arrived on Friday, January 13 in time to participate in the St. Vladimir Annual Nativity Charity Ball, as did many of the program participants. The ball was in support of the St. Vladimir parish’s parish school, the Ann Arbor Orthodox Classical Academy (https://www.a2oca.org), which is presently under construction and slated to begin instruction in the school in September or 2023. The school is already teaching students in the church proper, but the new facility will be a huge boon to this crucial educational endeavor, aimed at preparing the next generation of leaders for our Orthodox Michigan.
Saturday began with Divine Liturgy for the feast of St. Basil the Great, served by Priest Colin Bower and Deacon Dmitri Mihailov. After a light brunch the work began! The gathered young people prepared and recorded podcasts in support of the greater PVYA podcasting project, which began at the PVYA conference in Utah in June, 2022. Not just a few of Saturday’s participants had also been in Utah, and those young people took the lead in the day’s work. Nine new podcasts were prepared and will be released over the next few months. All are encouraged to subscribe to the podcasts:
SOUND CLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/youthpv
Following the podcasting work the young people participated in the Saturday evening Vigil, which was followed by a somewhat massive bonfire and a pizza dinner. In the midst of all the work and social interaction something else important happened too: a Prince Vladimir Youth Association of Michigan was founded. Much more information in this regard will be forthcoming, but this group focuses on the 18-25 year old demographic, which has been traditionally under-served by the Church in North America. We hope to make a difference in the faith of this important age group, and we ask your prayers in this regard.
On Sunday all gathered again in the church to participate in the Divine Liturgy. Following the Liturgy the parish sisterhood offered a rather bountiful meal to all the parishioners, as well as the PVYA participants. A bit of work polishing Saturday’s podcasting efforts was undertaken, and then all returned to their homes in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Fr. Andrei was presented with the gift of an icon of St. Mardarije of Libertyville, who reposed at the beginning of the 20th Century in Ann Arbor, and who is the patron saint of the Ann Arbor Orthodox Classical Academy. In return, Fr. Andrei gave a copy of his recently published book to the parish library, and also to Fr. Gregory Joyce, Rector of the parish.
Thank God for His mercy in allowing the young people to gather. This first effort of the PVYAMI was successful, but much work is still to be done. May the Lord also bless the forthcoming efforts!