The annual St. Herman’s Youth Conference began on Saturday, December 23, at Holy Dormition “New Divievo” Convent in Nanuet, NY, with a molieben, followed by a greeting from Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada. His Eminence called attention to the two major commemorations in 2017: (1) the tenth anniversary of the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church, and (2) the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia and the subsequent election of St. Tikhon (Bellavin) as the first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia after more than 200 years.
The St. Herman Youth Conference grew from a youth forum and pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville in 1973 blessed by Bishop Laurus of Manhattan. Other parishes in the northeastern United States and Canada, beginning in 1975 with Holy Protection Church in Nyack, NY, then took turns hosting the event during the break from school for the days surrounding the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity according to the “new” calendar. The annual Conference is dedicated to St. Herman of Alaska, whose feast day occurs on the same day as Christmas (N.S.). Attendees typically range in age from 15 to 25.
Four Holy Trinity seminarians attended the Conference last December: Seth Davidenko (4th year), Milos Bozic (3rd year), Njegos Bozic (1st year), and Ivan Gryaznov (1st year).
Here are some highlights of the Conference:
- Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky of the host convent spoke on the first day about the October Revolution in 1917 and its ramifications for the United States, focusing on the history of several revered icons that found their way from Soviet Russia to "Novo-Divievo" Convent here in America as well as the lives of the convent’s founder, Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko), and the founder of Holy Protection Church in Nyack, Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy.
- Participants were able, also on the first day, to select two workshops moderated by clergy a variety of topics including teenage and young adult dating, mass media and Orthodoxy, fasting and salvation, career choices, and preparation for professional life.
- Later that day, everyone travelled to New Divievo’s St. Seraphim’s Cathedral for the Prayer Rule before Holy Communion and All-night Vigil for 300 attendees led by Archbishop Gabriel. Concelebrants included Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, cathedral dean Archpriest Alexander Fedorowski, Archpriest Alexis Duncan (rector of Nativity of the Mother of God Church in Albany, NY), Archpriests George Lagodich, Peter Shashkoff, and Viatscheslav Davidenko of Canada, Archpriest Yaroslav Belikow (convent cleric), Archpriest Dimitri Jakimowicz (diocesan cleric), Priest John Johnson (St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC), Priests Alexey Lysenko of the Diocese of Vologda and Gennady Titov of the Diocese of Tikhvin in Russia, Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis (Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack), Protodeacon Vasily Milonow (Canadian Diocese), and Deacon Michael Pavuk (St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA, and Director of Development at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville, NY.
- Archbishop Gabriel again served the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Seraphim’s Cathedral on Sunday, December 24, accompanied by a 60-voice youth choir composed of Conference attendees.
- On Monday, December 25, Fr. Gennady Titov of the Tikhvin Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church lectured on the process of the glorification of saints in the Orthodox Church, focusing on a modern saint, Blessed Matrona the Barefoot of St. Petersburg. Attendees enjoyed a talent show that evening to conclude the Conference.
Archpriest Alexis Duncan also announced that his parish, Nativity of the Mother of God in Albany, NY, will, God-willing, host the 40th St Herman Youth Conference in December 2018.