: Syezd Youth Conference 2022

Praying, Learning, Growing Together: 2022 Syezd Youth ConferenceAn annual Diocesan event, 2022 saw our Syezd Youth Conference hosted in Brisbane.  Months of preparation had produced a schedule that equally prioritised praying together, learning together, and growing together.  We were especially overjoyed to welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ from three other states of Australia, who were able to join us in person; we were likewise delighted to welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ from New Zealand, along with others from other parts of Queensland and Australia, who joined us over Zoom for lectures and panel discussions.


Much like the Gospels, the first three days followed a similar structure: first, coffee and breakfast, then prayers; two talks, interspersed with morning tea and followed by lunch; an activity for the afternoon, closing with a panel discussion and concluding with Vespers.  Each of the services was conducted by one of the delegates, Mrs Sams, who also serves as choirmistress for her home parish, while any singing, reading, service in the altar, and any other liturgical tasks were fulfilled by Syezd attendees.Fr Gabriel Makarov, Fr Vladimir Boikov, Fr Andrew Smith and Dcn Matthew White served the Moleben for the Beginning of a Good Work, customarily served to open our Syezd Youth Conference.  At the end of the service, attendees were officially welcomed to the Cathedral by Fr Gabriel (as Rector and as Dean of Queensland), and blessed with holy water; after leading attendees to Cathedral Hall, Fr Andrew added his welcome as chair of the Organising Committee, and explaining this year’s theme of the Syezd Youth Conference: ‘Putting on the Whole Armour of God’.The first session was the opening Clergy Q&A, with questions received prior to the beginning of the Syezd Youth Conference being fielded, and briskly answered, by the clergy who were present.  This was followed by a talk, ‘Abide, These Three‘, by Mother Christina of Bungarby, speaking on Faith, Hope and Love as crucial elements in the Armour of God.  Fr Andrew helped to lead a group discussion on some of the questions that arose from her talk.  The afternoon activity focused on booklets, with stimulus material around the ‘Whole Armour of God’, which provided the context for attendees to get to know each other.  The Monday panel was ‘Dealing with Life’s Tough Situations‘, which included some delegates & laity being asked difficult questions on applying Orthodox Christian teachings, and sharing the fruits of their experience.On the Tuesday, the first talk was ‘The Elements of Armour‘, given by Fr Stephen David, explaining each feature of the Whole Armour of God that St Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6.  The second talk, ‘From the Two, One‘, was delivered by Fr Miloš Raketić, speaking on the Sacrament of Marriage.  The afternoon held a creative activity, focusing on clay sculpting for censers and crosses alike.  The Tuesday panel was really two separate panels – male attendees went to a panel on ‘the Orthodox Christian Man‘, with questions on growing into faith answered by Fr Miloš and other church-going men, while female attendees heard a panel on ‘the Orthodox Christian Woman‘, with questions on growing into faith being answered by Mother Christina and other church-going women.On the Wednesday, the first talk was ‘A Repair Manual for the Armour of God‘, given by Fr Gabriel Makarov, explaining how weaknesses can appear over time and how we can continue to grow and develop in our struggle towards Christ.  The second talk, ‘The Breaking of Icons‘, given by Fr Alexander Paramonov, focused on attacks on icons (both historical and contemporary), and why it is that iconography is vital for our lives as Orthodox Christians today.  The afternoon activity began our focus on the culmination of our Youth Conference, with Fr Vladimir Boikov leading participants through an activity on making prosphora.  All were invited to pray the Pre-Communion Prayers, before returning for the final clergy panel Q&A, and then finishing the day by praying Matins together.The final day’s schedule, like the final Gospel, was radically different.  First, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Fr Gabriel Makarov, Fr Andrew Smith, Fr Alexander Paramonov, Fr Stephen David, and Dcn Matthew White.  Fr Andrew delivered the sermon on the Epistle Reading, Hebrews 7:1-6, on the offerings that we are able to make to the Lord.  After a brunch, participants embarked on the ‘Holy Spine of Brisbane Tour‘ – walking to the five Orthodox parishes within the suburb of Woolloongabba.  Fr Gabriel Makarov began with a tour of St Nicholas Cathedral, which is to celebrate its centennial in 2023.  After a short walk, Alex Kasatchenko led a tour of St Seraphim’s Russian Orthodox Church.  Then, Fr Miloš again welcomed attendees to St Nikola Serbian Orthodox Church, where Dušanka Ilić spoke on the history of the parish which spanned two church buildings (both still on site today).  Attendees enjoyed the hospitality of St Nikola’s people, and an impromptu quartet responded with songs of joy and gratitude.  After another walk, Fr Andrew welcomed attendees to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church, where he led a tour and spoke on its history as an English-language parish.  Finally, a longer walk took attendees to St Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, on the boundaries of Woolloongabba, and Fr Andrew again spoke on the church’s history, architecture, and place as a home for the Antiochian Orthodox in Brisbane.Reconvening at St Nicholas Cathedral, Fr Andrew led a discussion forum on service, which included many ideas that attendees had for their reinvigoration and future service within parishes of our Diocese.  Thanksgiving Prayers were held to conclude the Syezd Youth Conference for another year.Just as we look forward to the next Syezd Youth Conference: we look forward to the contributions of our young adults in parishes across our Diocese!

Photo Album available here

Priest Andrew Smith,for the Organising Committeeof the 2022 Syezd Youth Conference, Brisbane.