from a presentation given at the Gala Ball of the 8th State Youth Conference (September 2003) on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary Reunion (1982 - 2003)By Theo Theodorou; Former President of the CYC
Your Eminence, Your Grace, Reverend Fathers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, beloved youth of the 2nd Archdiocesan District of Victoria and Tasmania.
It is my deepest honour to be here this evening to share in the commemoration of the 20th anniversary since the establishment of the Greek Orthodox Youth Movement.
I stand before you not as a person who has contributed greatly to the youth movement, quite the contrary. I am here as a humble representative of all the past committee members who felt a desire and a need to be a part of the overall Church's role of bringing to the youth the living and undivided Tradition of Christ's Gospel. As a teenager living in the 1970's the Orthodox Church, still in her infancy in Australia, offered very little, apart from the Ecclesiastical services themselves, environment for the youth to discover and explore the mysteries of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In fact, by the end of the 70's there were only 3 youth groups in all of Melbourne.
Well, this was about to change. A decision of the 4th Clergy Laity Congress in 1981 saw the first National Youth Conference take place in 1982 here in Melbourne.
The motto chosen was a passage from Timothy's first epistle: "Let no one despise thy youth". How appropriate a maxim to have for the first of many such Youth Conferences.
It was here where the youth of Australia gathered to listen to eminent individuals speak on the Conference theme "The Greek Orthodox Youth of Australia in the Eighties".
It was here also, where the youth were able to express to the hierarchy of the Church their needs and concerns. And the hierarchy listened.
It was at this Conference where a resolution was passed to establish within each Archdiocesan District, a central body comprising of youth who could oversee the establishment of youth fellowships with a consistent approach to their operation and function.
This came to fruition soon after here in Melbourne and immediately after the Committee was formed it began assisting in creating well structured youth fellowships where our young people could seek out the answers they needed to their questions.
The "Central Youth Committee" as it became to be known, soon expanded its function.
The group has been responsible for organizing:
I believe the fruits of this movement have been to successfully create an Orthodox atmosphere of "Living the Faith".
I for one have now been married for 19½ years and met my wife through this movement. The Godparents of our three children are a result of friendships forged through the youth movement.
This is a typical story repeated many times over throughout this country. Almost one generation later, those early committee members and participant youth have filtered through to other functions of the Orthodox Ecclesiastical environment.
We see them now occupying positions:
It would be remiss of me if I was not to acknowledge His Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis and the role he has played in the successful development of the youth movement.
His Grace has been His Eminence's Assistant Bishop here in Melbourne for the past 19½ years.
To my mind His Grace has expressed exemplary conduct in his absolute obedience to the Church and has inspired the youth to seek perfection in all their endeavours.
I would like to thank him for all the opportunities he has created and provided for us to express our Orthodoxy for all of Melbourne to witness.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I have deliberately left to last but by no means least, speaking about our Primate, our shepherd here in Australia, His Eminence, Archbishop Stylianos.
I do this because I wish to single His Eminence out in acknowledging his tireless efforts in providing his blessing and steering the youth movement on the path to salvation.
I have been blessed to know His Eminence for the past 22 years and have been honoured and humbled on many occasions with the opportunity to express my love and admiration for the position of Archbishop of Australia to the person Archbishop Stylianos.
And tonight the blessing bestowed upon me is to speak on behalf of all the youth, past and present. Foremost of all, His Eminence has provided the type of leadership which can be consistently found throughout the history of the Greek Orthodox Church.
It is unwavered authority steadfastly providing guidance in the understanding of Patristic, Apostolic and Ecclesiastical Tradition.
His Eminence has clearly been successful in handing over to the youth of this blessed land the Doctrine of our Trinitarian God.
I am reminded of an event, which I was blessed to witness in 1995, where His Eminence was answering questions at the first Cultural Forum in Sydney. In responding to a question he had forgotten for a moment, how to say a particular word in English. He turned to one of his priests and asked the following:
Well your Eminence, if you are stubborn its in order to not compromise our Orthodox beliefs and to provide the best possible guidance for our youth during turbulent times.
Your Eminence, please know and accept with all our heart, we announce with one voice that we support you unconditionally and look forward to many more years of inspiration and encouragement.
And what of the future for the youth movement?
We look forward, God willing, to the next 20 years when perhaps we may be sitting amongst you continuing to admire the on-going achievements of the Greek Orthodox Youth Movement.