2011 Leadership Conference helps participants "Let Love In"
More than 70 young adults representing 23 parishes attended the 2011 Leadership Conference held at the Don Bosco Retreat Center in Stony Point, New York from November 4-6. Themed “Let Love In,” participants examined how Christ calls his followers to serve through love and discussed their roles in answering the call as leaders in the ACYOA and the church. Also joining the ACYOA members were representatives from the Coptic and Indian Orthodox Churches.
Fr. Krikor Sabounjian, pastor of Holy Translators Armenian Church in Framingham, Mass., spoke about divine love and human love. He stressed that divine love is unconditional while human love is often tinged with expectations. He encouraged the young people to think about the way in which they love others, and how they might work to strengthen their relationships.
"The leadership skills they worked on were not designed to teach them how to run a meeting or create a program," said Fr. Sabounjian. "They were designed to teach them how to be true servant leaders through the way they live their lives and make their decisions based on Christian love."
Dn. Ryan Tellalian spoke about Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders, explaining the similar emphasis on love and service found in both sacraments. He also underlined the importance of sacrifice as it applies to both marriage and the priesthood.
Dn. Benjamin Rith-Najarian led a Bible study on 1 Corinthians 13 ("Love is patient, love is kind, love envies not.") Participants reflected on the adjectives used to describe love in the well-known passage, and shared which of those characteristics they saw in themselves.
Yn. Arpi Kouzouian, youth director of Holy Trinity Church of Cambridge, Mass., and Maria Derderian, youth minister at St. James Church of Watertown, Mass., gave a presentation on "Service and Witness." They spoke about the importance of sharing one's gifts with others, living and sharing one's faith, and gave practical tips on identifying and addressing areas of need in one's community.
"This weekend really started from scratch by teaching us to lead by the example of loving all. This is the first step in being a leader," said Melissa Mardoian of Sts. Joachim and Anne Church of Palos Heights, Ill. "We can now go and show our love by starting good service projects in our parishes."