On Sunday the 27th of August, the youth committees of parishes in Victoria gathered at Saint George’s Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral for the second annual Youth Committee Conference hosted by ACOY Victoria. Building upon last year’s theme of leadership, this year’s theme was teamwork.

Father Deacon Ignatius Hanna began the afternoon with an insightful talk on teamwork and the different stages of team development. He spoke about how we can learn from Canadian Geese migration, such as how they rotate the lead goose when it begins to tire and how the geese at the back of the flock constantly make noise to help motivate the lead goose. Ultimately, the geese cannot make it through the winter without working as a functional team. Similarly, our youth committees must rely on teamwork to provide positively to our parish communities. We looked at passages from Scripture that signify the importance of unity, and use of our diverse talents and gifts in humility to be effective members of our committees and parishes. Essentially, we should all act more like geese!

Following this discussion, the youth were privileged to be joined by former ACOY representatives and current parish leaders – Jessica Azar, Layal Kyriazis, Elias Salloum and George Daher for a panel discussion. The youth were enlightened by the honesty, personal experience, and tailored advice that the panel provided. Following this, attendees were then split into smaller groups to discuss hypothetical case scenarios around the struggles of poor teamwork and how we can combat this with better communication and trust amongst our committee members. The groups then united to discuss key themes which included improving communication, being more active in church life and improving our empathy skills. With the guidance of Father Deacon Ignatius and our panellists, the group then agreed on key goals to work towards over the next year.

Concluding the afternoon, our youth were blessed to share a beautiful meal, and the opportunity for casual discussions and further strengthen friendships. We were also joined by parish priests who had provided their time to meet with our youth committee presidents to discuss ideas and common concerns for Antiochian youths in Victoria. The actions and themes from this discussion as well as the goals set by our youth at this gathering will aim to help guide our youth committees towards consistent growth and a common purpose.

Glory to God for allowing us the opportunity to have this fruitful evening and to meet and grow as one Church and body of Christ.

We can’t wait for next year!