Picture Recap from Summer Camp held at Urshlem Aramana
This year the Diocese of South-West America hosted its first ever summer camp for young men (high school upperclassmen to undergraduate college students) at the diocesan chancery, Urshlem Indian Orthodox Christian Center, from Sunday, July 12, 2015 to Sunday, July 19, 2015. The theme for the camp was “Men of the Kingdom” based on Genesis 1:26. The main speakers for the camp were Fr. Christopher Mathew (St. James, Dallas) and Dn. Gabriel Pike (St. Gregorios, Spokane). Along with them, sessions were lead by Fr. Mammen Mathew (St. Thomas, Houston), Fr. Joel Mathew (St. Thomas, Houston), Fr. Jake Kurian (St. Stephen’s, Houston), and Seminarian George Ninan (Vancouver). His Grace Alexios Mor Eusebius, the diocesan metropolitan, was also present throughout the entire camp.
The camp began and ended with the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Fr. Joel Mathew on Sunday, July 12 and Mor Eusebius, the metropolitan, on Sunday, July 19. The topics discussed throughout the week were focused on what it means to be a man, husband, father, son, brother, friend, and leader. Additional topics included training on serving at the Holy Altar, preparing bread for the Divine Liturgy, morals & ethics, West Syriac liturgical music, addictions, and contemporary issues. At the conclusion of the evening prayers, His Grace gave lessons daily on various Bible passages.
Monday through Wednesday the high school students were given orientations for college and career guidance by local professionals working in the fields of law, medicine, business, and engineering. These sessions were led by Mr. Jaison John, Dr. Toby Thomas, Mr. Lloyd Daniel, Mr. Cyril Rajan, and Mr. Stephen James.
On Friday evening, there was a bonfire in which everyone enjoyed fellowship while singing Christian music and sharing testimonies and their experiences from the camp. “Last year I attended California Leadership Camp and I wanted something that would keep that spirituality going,” said Mathew Thomas, a participant from the Atlanta region. “Attending this camp not only made me more spiritually mature, but through the fellowship and disciplined prayer routine, it made me appreciate our Orthodox faith even more.”
The following night, in preparation for the Holy Qurbono the next morning, everyone spent time meditiating over the Jesus prayer and counseling with Dn. Gabriel and Seminarian George.
After the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, His Grace presented each of the camp participants an icon of the Holy Twelve Apostles. The boys at camp were specially blessed with the opportunity to participate in all seven hours of prayer of the Church for the entire week in complete English. Beginning with midnight prayers at 6 AM and ending the day at 11 PM with compline prayers. The youth who participated in this camp are slowly making changes in their spiritual and daily lives to be better sons, brothers, friends, leaders, future husbands, and fathers, but most importantly men of the Kingdom.