On Saturday, February 19, teens gathered for our Diocesan Teen Social at two parishes across the Diocese - Holy Trinity in East Meadow, NY, and Saints Peter and Paul in Herkimer, NY. This is the second event in the series of Quarterly Teen Socials being held throughout the Diocese in the hopes of reconnecting our youth to our churches and to each other.

The goal for these events is that once per quarter, host parishes across the Diocese will hold a Teen Social on the same day. The events held in person at the host parishes integrate service, worship and fellowship. Each Social also includes a casual Zoom chat between the parishes, so that the teens can socialize and make new friends, and they can also learn about their faith during a “Q&A” session with His Eminence, Archbishop Michael.

During the first Social held on December 11, 2021, teens gathered together at three parishes: one parish from each deanery (Christ the Saviour in Paramus, Holy Trinity in East Meadow, and Holy Trinity in Elmira Heights). The teens in Elmira Heights and East Meadow baked Christmas cookies for ministries that provide meals to those in need: St. Michael’s Community Meal in Binghamton, NY, and “Feeding Long Island”. Teens in Paramus decorated pictures for “Color a Smile”, a nonprofit that distributes cheerful drawings to senior citizens, troops overseas and anyone in need of a smile.

For the February Social, the teens in Herkimer helped to make pierogies, in preparation for the parish’s Spring Sale. The proceeds from the sale go to the parish sisterhood, Saint Anna's Altar Society, who, in addition to other worthy causes, uses the funds to sponsor youth from the parish to attend Saint Andrew's Camp in Jewell, NY.

Archbishop Michael spent the afternoon with the teens in East Meadow. His Eminence, along with Fr Martin and the teens, made prosphora (Greek for “offering”), the bread prepared for use in the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Martin took the opportunity to not only explain how prosphora is made, but also included a discussion on Proskimede (the Service of Preparation of the bread for the Eucharist), expanding on why we use leavened rather than unleavened bread. He talked about how bread, when properly made, can sustain us, but that Christ is the One Who truly sustains us and is the Bread of Life. Father explained that until recent times, the process for making flour would have included the hand harvesting of wheat after sowing and tending to it for months beforehand. After harvest, the wheat would have been hand milled using a mortar and pestle or ground in a mill using a grindstone. The teens got to grind some wheat kernels using a mortar and pestle to experience what work and time are involved, as well as how this would have been done in a community, as one person could not have done all that work alone. He then explained that a natural leaven which captures yeast from the environment (most know this as sourdough) was used. This leaven was also tended to daily, as the yeast needs to be kept alive for it to raise the dough. In addition, water would need to be drawn from a well or retrieved from a spring, since there was no indoor plumbing. Father emphasized that bread made this way would have truly been an offering of love, as it took much time to prepare. He encouraged the teens to take time in their lives to pray and to be with each other.

The Zoom Q&A session included the teens from the two host parishes, along with other teens who joined in from other churches. Archbishop Michael answered numerous questions from the teens, including, “How do I know God loves me?”, “How are saints canonized?”, and, “Why should I go to church?” He answered the teens’ questions, not only from a theological perspective, but also by sharing his personal stories and experiences, helping the teens to understand and relate.

The next Teen Social is scheduled for May 22, 2022. We will have additional Host Parishes throughout the Diocese. Details will follow. If you would like to be notified of future events, please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/7USg1WZQEo8VrSk39

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