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His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH Declairs 2005 as the 'Year of the Youth'

To be Read from the Pulpit and published in the Church Bulletin and Newsletter

December 21, 2004

The Beloved Right Reverend, Very Reverend, and Reverend Fathers; The Esteemed Officers and Members of the Parish Councils; The Officers and Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, the Antiochian Women, the Teen SOYO, and the Order of St. Ignatius; And all the faithful of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West:

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Greetings and Blessings in the Name of our Lord, Jesus! I pray that you had a blessed and Holy Nativity.

In this glorious season in which we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we experience great joy in the expressed love of God, and we carry hope into this troubled world. Truly, our Lord Jesus, “God With Us”, Immanuel, offers to all the only true hope which will save and redeem the world.

Our Lord came to us as a babe and grew and “became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40). Our Lord fully knows what it means to be human; He fully knows what it is to be a child who then “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

It is with this in mind that I have therefore declared that 2005 is to be “The Year of the Youth”. All programs, plans, homilies, and teachings for the year 2005 are to contain an emphasis on the youth. In particular, we must consider how to attract them to the Church; we must also educate them and train them to support the Church and truly “grow them up” in the Church so that they likewise may grow in the only true Wisdom, that is our Lord Jesus Christ, and in favor with God. Try to fit this program into your budget as your finances allow. I need all of you to sacrifice everything for this important program.

When the rich young man approached our Lord, asking how to obtain eternal life, our Lord instructed him to keep the commandments, and also to sell all that he had and give it to the poor (Matthew 19:16-22). We likewise must remember our commitment to the “young ones” of the Church. We must both instruct them in our Lord’s commandments and also give them opportunity to practically live them out with the assistance of the worshipping community of the Church.

I welcome any feedback and suggestions which you may have in undertaking this task. I will willingly consider any thoughts, suggestions, or proposals you may have in relation to this program. Please send in writing any ideas or plans which you would like submit for this theme.

May the celebration of our Lord’s Most Holy Nativity bring you great joy and enliven all of your efforts to His glory in this coming year.

Assuring you of my constant love, prayers, and support, I remain,

Your Father in Christ,

+ JOSEPH
Bishop of Los Angeles and the West
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

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