Youth and families from three Western Upstate New York Parishes came together on 4 January 2014 for a day of prayer, fun, and fellowship at Palm Island Indoor Water Park in Batavia NY. This was the third youth gathering in the past several months, bringing together the parishes of Saints Peter & Paul, Saint George (Buffalo) and Saint John the Baptist (Rochester). Over 25 children and adults participated thanks to the diligence and coordinating efforts of Sub-Deacon Sean McNulty, a graduate of our Diocesan Diaconal Formation Program.
After hours of splashing around in the swimming pool, playing pool basketball, relaxing in the hot tub, and riding the two water slides in the comfort of indoors, while the weather outside was cold and windy, the youth gathered for a brief prayer and pizza party in a cozy meeting room graciously donated by the water park staff and used as ‘home base’ throughout the day.
It was obvious that the youth and parents from the various parishes were getting to know each other quite well! This fun event led to a discussion of experiences in outreach and evangelism from the home parishes and how to increase the Orthodox “footprint” in Western New York State.
The afternoon culminated with Great Vespers celebrated on-site by Father Jason Vansuch and Deacon Mark Hoeplinger, both of Saint George parish. Readings were chanted by Sub-Deacon Sean of Saint John the Baptist parish.
“It was blessing for us to be able to serve Vespers together, not only as we are brothers and sisters in Christ, but as a true witness to our faith,” said Father Jason. “As friendships were made and renewed,” added Sub-Deacon Sean, “everyone expressed a strong desire for increased fellowship in the future.”
The joy that these three parishes will be blessed by frequent fellowship and cooperation has been actualized thanks to Sub-Deacon Sean working wonderfully with the respective parish priests and parishioners. Plans are in the works for another event with the three parishes in the Spring.