Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
for the Opening of the YAL Conference
July 2, 2022
Precious participants of the Young Adult League Conference,
It is a source of inspiration and instruction for our entire Church in the United States of America that your conference is being held in the same venue, at the same time as, but also in conjunction with, the Clergy-Laity Congress and the National Philoptochos Convention.
But how could it be otherwise? How could the ministers and members of your Archdiocese – its Hierarchs and delegates, its clergy and laity, men and women, administrators and pastors – possibly convene without at least remembering, if not consciously recognizing, that the aspiration, promotion and continuation of their sacred work lie in the hands and in the hearts of the young men and women, who are already shaping both the present and future of our Church? Indeed, as the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church properly highlighted, “The young people are not simply the “future” of the Church, but also the active expression of her God-loving and human-loving life in the present” (Encyclical, § 8).
This sense of tradition, on the one hand, and transmission, on the other hand, is part and parcel of what it means to be a living Church. This feeling of reciprocity and continuity is the quintessence of what it means to be the Body of Christ, where each of us constitutes an invaluable, indispensable, and irreplaceable member.
However, your involvement in this year’s Young Adult Convention is, above all, an expression and celebration of joy. By assembling as brothers and sisters in the name of Christ, you will discover that you are able to rise above the dilemmas and difficulties of our modern world in order to discuss and discern ways of addressing and resolving the many challenging and critical problems of our age.
When the Apostle says: “Let no one despise your youth” (1 Timothy 4:12), he is neither preaching to you nor patronizing you. On the contrary, he is reassuring you that your youth and drive actually provide the source and stimulus for you to rise above the conflicts and divisions that we constantly witness around us. Your optimism and enthusiasm will, in fact, offer the solution for dealing with global challenges, such as the eruption of violence, the refugee crisis and the climate change that we increasingly face across the planet.
And this, my beloved children, is precisely what should give you the grace and joy to be in fellowship with one another during these memorable days of your convention. Because these connections and associations among you are what will ultimately sustain and strengthen you when – as we say at the end of the Divine Liturgy – you “depart in peace” in order to reflect the image of Christ in your respective parishes and communities.
May God bless and keep you during these days and all the days of your life.