During the last days of December, over 120 young people of the Russian Church Abroad gathered in Albany, the capital of New York State, at the parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God for the annual St. Herman Youth Conference. The conference has been held annually since the 1970s, and is arguably the most important youth activity of the Church Abroad. Each year sees its own remarkable highlights, and this year was no less successful.
Our parish here in Montreal supported six of our youth who all came back with warm, wonderful memories and a desire to attend next year’s conference. For this opportunity we thank all of our parishioner’s for their generous support.
Two speakers enlivened the conference with interesting talks followed by lively discussions. Priest John Whiteford delivered a lecture entitled "Answering Atheists," which outlined many of the arguments and points of debate often encountered by young people in educational institutions. Dr. Nadezhda Sexton spoke about how our psychological needs are met in various addictive misdirections in life. Her talk was entitled "Grant Me a Pure Vision."
The divine services were incredibly beautiful and led by His Eminence Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal & Canada, Director of the St. Herman Executive Committee, and His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan. Serving were sixteen priests from America, Canada, and Russia, six protodeacons, and many altar servers. The youth choir added to the beauty of the services under the direction of Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky, assisted by youth representatives.
On the first day of the conference, all of the participants traveled on a pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY where they are greeted by Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), abbot of the monastery. After a day of lectures, workshops, and tours, the youth joined in a bonfire beyond the chapel of Ven. John of Rila near the monastery ponds.
After the spiritually rewarding observance of the feast of Ven. Herman of Alaska, the patron saint of all the Americas, the clergy, parishioners, and conference participants attended a banquet in the church hall. After the festivities, there was laser tag for everyone on the church property. In the evening, after a Chinese Buffet, the annual talent show was well received and a joy for everyone. All of the participants enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the evening and departed for their homes on Saturday morning.
It was announced that the 2017 St. Herman’s Conference will be hosted by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, DC. We look forward to another wonderful year of preparation and anticipate a tremendous attendance in the nation’s capital in a year’s time.