The precious role of the orthodox youth as the present and the future of the church and its spiritual progress, was highlighted by Archbishop Anastasios since the beginning of the rebuilding of the church in Albania.
He expressed the main purpose of the youth, which is the union and the participation in the body of Christ through four aspects: Growth in Christ, friendship, testimony and Service. Archbishop Anastasios, has consistently supported financially the youth.
In 1993 was created the first youth group of Tirana, and in 1994 this group created its first youth centre, which began to organize various activities. Meanwhile, also in other major cities the groups that were taking catechism began to be organized in youth groups in conjunction with missionaries and local clergy.
The preparation for the cadres from the Hieratic-Theological Seminary, later the Theological Academy, created better conditions for further development of organization the youth and catechism work.
So in 1999 was established the Central Youth Office, and the youth offices in every diocese, whose purpose was to organize and coordinate activities in the republic and diocesan level. The Youth Offices collaborates closely with the clergy, with the Catechism Office, with the Children’s Office, with the Student Center, with the Women’s Office and with the Theological Academy, supporting each in their work in creating joint programs. Across the country are set up and operate many youth groups, which have different spiritual and cultural activities.
Spiritual Meetings and Catechism with Youth
Coming of many young people to know closely and to experience the Orthodox Christian faith and the Christian life in community, the spiritual guidance during their personal experience and in community of Christian life, are the main objectives of the youth groups.
These objectives are realized mainly through meetings usually performed after the Divine Liturgy on Sundays or even in other days of the week, in collaboration with catechists and clergy. They consist of speeches, talks and lessons, where young people receive answers to issues of social and spiritual themes that they are interested, as well as problems that concern them. In addition to these meetings they also perform devotional services.
The Contribution in the Choirs of the Church
In every parish, the Orthodox youth have contributed in a special way in the psaltery. Some of them have attended teaching courses of the Byzantine Music, while in the main cities of the dioceses were formed youth choirs. Their goal was the participation in the Divine Liturgy every Sunday as well as to be active in the concerts of the Diocese.
In Tirana, in addition to these activities, is also created the choir of the Radio "Resurrection-Ngjallja", composed by the Orthodox youth of the capital, who in addition to musical contribution to this radio, gives also concerts in various institutions such as orphanages, asylums, in various national holidays and in church’s feasts, reinforcing the message of love and hope. This choir in collaboration with Youth Orchestra of Radio “Ngjallja–Resurrection” has put in tapes and CDs their interpretations.
Meetings and Conferences
Meetings, or said differently Youth Conferences have attracted the interest of youth since the begging. The purpose of these conferences is to help young people to know more closely the Christian life, and to raise awareness to them to help people in need, with a living testimony of their lives. Meetings are held several times per year.
The program of each meeting is focuses on a particular theme, around which are held even meetings in smaller groups. Part of the program of these meetings are also the entertainment activities, which help young people to get more familiar with each other and create new friendships. Participants had the opportunity to gain a wonderful experience and share it with others.
One of the most important events of the year and one of the most popular activities of the youth are summer camps for boys and girls. The first camp for girls was held in Skrofotina of Vlora, in 1995, while the first camp for boys was organized, in the same year, at the Monastery of St. Cosmas in Kolkondas, Fier. Although the Archbishop had little funds to organize these camps, he was able to provide the main facilities for the camps. He provided the reconstruction of two monasteries. When the work in these monasteries had ended, the camps were transferred to their new places, in which they continue to be performed until now. Boy’s camp settled at the Monastery "Dormition of the Theotokos" in Zvërneci of Vlora, and the girls' camp at the Monastery of Saint John Vladimir in Elbasan.
The main goal of these camps is to organize educational, spiritual and entertainment activities, offering hope and encouragement to young people, in order to create their own personal relationship with God. In addition, in parallel with these camps were developed even other local camps in the Holy Monastery of St. George in Çuka of Saranda, in Glikomil of Gjirokastra, at the Holy Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Voskopoja, Korça etc. So every year are organized 10 camps for boys and girls, in which approximately 1500 people attend. During the winter season, our church also organizes two camps for boys and girls.
These festivals are artistic and representative activities. Youth groups from the dioceses display their creations and musical religion interpretations, traditional, folk and others. The first festival of the Orthodox Youth took place in 1998, with the participation of 13 youth groups from all over Albania.
Today are organized even local festivals throughout the diocese. Three best groups participate in the National Festival, organized in the Christmas period. These festivals, besides the creativity and the artistic cultivation that bring to young people, help to expand the friendship among people, giving them the opportunity to come together. Also, through these festivals, to youth is given the opportunity to discover and to liven up the early traditions of our country, to learn and to evaluate them.
Seeing that the number of youth groups was growing and not all young people have the opportunity to participate in the activities at the republic level due to the limited number, were organized daily activities.
These youth activities are organized especially for rural areas, because these areas have not much educational and entertainment opportunities. These activities include prayer, spiritual and social activities in small groups. Over a year are organized several meetings.
Helping in the Children’s Camps
Young people of different youth centers, with their own initiative, have helped and volunteered to help in the activities and daily summer camps for children in various dioceses.
Also, since 2002, they have continued the cooperation with the Central Children’s Office to help in the camps that our Church is organizing in Kosovo.
Activities with Young People with Disabilities
One of the objectives of Orthodox Youth is to stay close to people who are in need. For this reason, the Youth Office in collaboration with the foundation "David Leka", for years has organized various activities for youth with disabilities. Among other things, a very important activity is the organization of conferences for these people, attended by about 50 young people. During the days of this conference are organized group discussions and entertainment and sports activities. A special night is the night where young people show their talents, where yang people unfold their creative skills.
Youth groups, seeing the great need of the church for churchly hand crafts, as well as getting the experience from the summer camps, have continued the activity of doing different styles of churchly hand crafts in their youth centers.
The purpose of these hand crafts is that young people to use their free time in a useful way as well as to cooperate for the progress of their youth center. These hand crafts are sold to the believers with a symbolic price.
They do different hand crafts: prayer ropes, icons and icons ornament, Easter and Christmas candles, crosses etc.. With the income received by these, youth groups cover some costs of their activities. The work of these young people has aroused interest not only to the believers, but also to other people outside the Church.
Activities for Environmental Clearance
The purpose of this activity is to raise awareness among young people about the problems associated with the environment and impurity of it nowadays.
This activity for the first time took place in one of Albania's most attractive parks in Llogara, cleaning some parts of this park. Over the years this type of activities are organized in different places around Albania.
Visits to People who Are in Need
The service of youth toward people in need is a priority. Youth groups themselves, but also in collaboration with women's orthodox groups and Orthodox clergy have undertaken visits to various social institutions such as orphanages, hospitals, prisons, asylum, persons with disabilities, etc..
This effort has already become part of the tradition of Orthodox youth, helping people in need, remembering the love and the sacrifice of Christ.
Donating blood is considered as a visible witness of love and an important indicator of the charity.
Another activity, which has moved very young people close to youth centers, has been the organizing of the olympic games (a day filled with games).
These are traditional Albanian folk games developed from generation to generation. For the first time, these activities took place in 2001, where a great help to their organization is provided by professionals in this field, benevolent people of the church as well as youth groups themselves with their contributions.
Since 2002, the youth group of Tirana, and later Central Youth Office publishes the magazine "Këmbanat-Bells". The magazine is very rich with different spiritual, social and cultural materials. Are the young people themselves who undertake the preparation of materials and its publication.
The Youth Central Office at the beginning of each year has published the annual youth calendar, listing all the main activities that take place during a year in the republic level. This office also has published books of prayers, songs, etc.
The Orthodox Youth of Albania is a member of the Connections of International Orthodox Youths such as Syndesmos, BOYA (Balkan Orthodox Youth Association). This office participates every year with its representatives in the activities organized by young Orthodox from different countries of the world.
Meetings and Conferences with the Youth of Other Christian Faiths
This conference is organized once a year, starting from 2006. The purpose of this conference is to strengthen the interfaith harmony and the cooperation with other young Christian communities.
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All this whole activities has given a valuable contribution to the spiritual edification of young people, has increased the educational and cultural level, as well as their integration into society. Also, these activities have impacted on alleviating the social problems that exist in today's society Albanian.