Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East

ByzanTEENS in the Desert:

Las Vegas Parish hosts ByzanTeens from Arizona and New Mexico

By Diane Rabiej

Las Vegas -- (BCW 7/11/1999) -- Southwest ByzanTEENS found an oasis of prayer, fun and friends in the desert as they gathered for Memorial Day Weekend. St. Gabriel the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church, Las Vegas, Nevada hosted this event. The weekend included several events. They prayed with the Las Vegas Parish. The 'TEENS traveled to Holy Resurrection Monastery, Newberry Springs, CA., to spend the day in prayer and reflection. A fun afternoon at the MGM Grand Theme Park rounded the weekend's activities.

ByzanTeens in the Desert

On Saturday, the 35 ByzanTEEN pilgrims and the chaperones traveled into the Mohave Desert to witness and become part of the life of prayer with the monks of Holy Resurrection Monastery. They were welcomed by Father Nicholas Zachariadis, the Superior, and the monks. Brother Maximos welcomed the youth to this "Factory of Prayer,' and encouraged each one to "take home.., some of the factory's materials." A Moleben for Vocations and Procession followed. Brother Maximos then told something of the humble beginnings and growth of the Monastery which is under the Protection of the Blessed Mother of God, "Searcher for the Lost." Father Nicholas pointed out main vocational choices available to the youth. He reminded them of the choice each would soon make. "Monasticism," he emphasized, "is a life of prayer. This becomes easier in the desert where there are fewer distractions."

Specific "quiet time" was later allowed for personal reflection and the Sacramental Mystery of Penance was made available. The day concluded with Vespers. For many of the 'TEENS, this was a first experience being part of a monastic community. Dinner on the terrace at Holy Resurrection capped the day.

Father John Bernardi joined Father Robert Pipta, Pastor, the ByzanTEENS, chaperones and the entire St.Gabriel parish family at St. Gabriel’s Church for Divine Liturgy on Sunday. Father Pipta spoke of the very real energy of youth and questioned the focus of this energy. He commended the ‘TEENS for their desert trip "where they could more easily experience the goodness of God and one another." this message represented a power affirmation for our 'TEENS!

In the afternoon, the entire group and most of the young parish family of St. Gabriel the Archangel assembled at MGM Grand Theme Park for an afternoon filled with thrilling rides, stunt shows, and shared community camaraderie. Some ByzinTEENS (and chaperones, too) were lef: a bit "wet" from the water rides; but soon dried by the hot desert sun and dry air!

A Parastas service was intoned on Monday, Memorial Day morning. The ByzanTEENS and departing chaperones received a special traveler's blessing from Father Robert before their departure from church. The ByzanTEENS also received prayer ropes (chotki) as a special present from the Byzantine Churches of Las Vegas.

Participants included youth and chaperones traveling from St. Stephen ProCathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (Very Rev. Stephen G. Washko, Rector); St. Thomas the Apostle, Gilbert, Arizona (Rev. Philip Acquaro, CSB, Pastor); and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Rev. Chris Zugger, Pastor). Local participating parishes were: Our Lady of Wisdom Italo-Greek Mission (Right Reverend Archimandrite Francis M. Vivona, Pastor) and the hosting parish, St. Gabriel the Archangel. All accommodations for the ByzanTEENS and chaperones were provided by the parish family of St. Gabriel the Archangel.

It was evident that the weekend event was a tremendous success. One Phoenix ByzanTEEN stated this sentiment clearly: "It was so much fun! It was great getting to know 'TEENS from different parishes and getting to know those from your own parish better."


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Last Modified on 08/12/1999.