Published - 5 July 2018

The year 2018 has been declared as the Year of the Youth by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, with the intention that the youth become the sole focus of our mission and that we collectively pray for the future generation of servants of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The purpose of our mission is unchanged – to strengthen in the minds and in the hearts of the youth the Armenian Christian identity. The aforementioned will become possible when we live a purposeful life filled with God’s love, inspire our brothers and sisters through the divine messages radiating from the Gospel of Christ, our Lord, transform and become the living parts of the Armenian Church, serve our Motherland and Holy Etchmiadzin, cherish the ancestral Christian Faith of our forefathers and lastly, incorporate the sanctity of the Armenian family as the backbone of our being.

The Pan-ACYO has come a long way since 2001. Beloved youth, we are grateful to you for your love and support throughout the last 17 years despite the challenges and obstacles we have faced collectively. Indeed, with the firm belief in God’s divine love, we have brought this mission to fruition.

We fondly remember the day when His Holiness entrusted us to lead the Youth of the Armenian Church. We organized and held meetings with Armenian youth in four corners of the world. From North and South America, to Europe, Russia and Armenia, hundreds of trips were completed to realize the noble mission of the Pan-ACYO. We started out as a miniscule group and grew rapidly to a reputable organization in our nation’s life.       

During our conferences, regional meetings and workshops we stressed and continually reiterated our expectations of having each youth transform his or her God-given life into a life of service, one that is made wholesome by spiritual advancement and maturity of faith. We explained that the completeness of our national identity is dependent on the essential role of spirituality and the values, which we commonly hold in reverence in our lives. By incorporating spirituality and sacred values into our lives we will avoid being resembled to a blade of grass that breaks from the soil, grows, withers and transforming into dust, vanishes into thin air.

Throughout the four decades of pastoral service, we were humbled to personally connect with generations of young people who inspired us with their vision, abilities, wisdom and faith. You grew and matured under the umbrella of the Armenian Apostolic Church and were nourished from the source of True Orthodox Christian Faith. Having completed your education, you became keen professionals in your chosen respective fields. You became accomplished individuals and members of the collective body of the Pan-Armenian Church Youth Organization. Presently and quite naturally, we expect much more from you. You are expected to transform your God-given lives into miracles with the vision of strengthening our Church and our Motherland. Now is the time for the harvest. You are called to take your independent steps, to establish yourselves, to contribute to the vivacity of this mission intellectually, professionally, spiritually, and financially while remaining in your roles as initiators and leaders.                         

You are called to become the guardians of the Armenian Apostolic Church. However, you must earn your right to be called guardians through your noble endeavors. In other words, if you wish to uphold the sanctity and holiness of our Church, you must first know how to lead sacrificial and loving lives. You must resemble a father who labors tirelessly to provide for his family, and ensure the best possible education for his children. You too must cultivate in your hearts the role of a guardian, provider, and caretaker. Plan your lives in such a manner that you may excel in your educational and professional fields. Succeed in your undertakings. Shine on life’s grandest stage. Most importantly, like steel, be strong. Be well informed and versed in the public, political, and cultural spheres and partake in their advancements. Remain competitive in the broadest sense of the word and never cease to be courageous. Now is the time and your time has come! The future is now.

We our humble exhortation, we urge you to transform your lives and strengthen in you the spiritual, national, and moral values in order that your lives may be set on course to perfection.

What type of challenges do we then face in the “Year of the Youth?”

The greatest challenge of all, not only in Armenia but equally around the world, is the presence of widespread immoral and wicked practices. The ultimate way of combating these issues is accepting, implementing, and promoting the spiritual values, which are dearest to our hearts. The Armenian youth must be driven with the vision of a prosperous Motherland and the unshakable Christian Faith of the Armenian Church.

What are the fundamental steps required to make the “Year of the Youth” meaningful?

My dear youth, this pilgrimage to Armenia and Holy Etchmiadzin has been granted you a superior guide in order that you may lead your lives toward God , toward the sacred land of our ancestors, toward our people and toward our history. During this historic fellowship, I urge you to pray collectively so that you may be strengthened. Fortified with the graces of the Holy Spirit, I rest assured that you will return to your respective communities as architects of the New Church.

Therefore, this pilgrimage, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the victorious Battle of Sardarabad and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia, is a calling for religious and national reawakening. From this day forth, filled with the divine love and wisdom of God, we are called to lead new lives with new visions.

Armenia and Holy Etchmiadzin enlighten and pave the way of our identity. Armenia and Echmiadzin strengthen and revitalize us. Wherever we may be, one thing is certain. We shall always yearn for the sacredness which radiates from our Motherland and Holy Etchmiadzin. Life’s bitter truth dictates that an Armenian away from the Homeland and Holy Etchmiadzin is an orphan. Consequently, let us embrace this pilgrimage and become a unified loving family, with a oneness in vision, service, sacrifice and creativity.

Each of you is graced with these unique gifts. Nourish your souls down to the roots so that you may witness the rise of the miraculous bread.                         

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian