After Graduation

After the Graduation Party

As a little tangent from our Lenten reflections, I'd like to pass along an idea that was shared with me recently (thanks to Kay Nicolakis of Peabody, MA for this one! She posed the question and we thought about it together over coffee).

Over the next month or so, seniors will be graduating from high school. By now, many have already selected their next steps: college, a year off to do community service, training into a trade, the military, or other options. They may already know if they are staying home or moving away. All of these transitions can cause excitement and anxiety. What can they expect there? What will living away from home be like? What will all this independence mean for me?  Also, young people will begin serious reflections on the directions that their lives may take, far more serious than at younger ages. Issues of career and vocation; lifestyles, dating, courtship, and marriage and sex; what is my future place in society? and how can I live out my faith away from home, away from parental influence, and become an "Adult Orthodox Christian"?

Might the Church have something to offer at this moment to share?

Gather up the high school graduates. Meet for three or four times as a group. Equip them for the transition.
Discuss the questions.  Put a few books and resources into their hands - a Bible, an intro to Orthodox Christianity, links to good sources, apps and the like.
Provide the names of local OCFs, local parishes, military chaplains, all with contact information easily obtained online. 
Put this information into the hands of someone on the other side, to the local OCFs and parishes, saying "Jim X will be moving to your area to attend Y College." Please have someone look him up.

Let these young people know that even though they may be away from home, moving into new roles, they are still part of the Church and the Church still cares about them.

Other than a few instances, we are probably talking about no more than half a dozen young people per parish. Shouldn't be too hard or too costly.

Then.... while they are away....  Plan for their return. At Thanksgiving. At Christmas. Most are home, wanting to reconnect with friends. Create an event.   Network these young people into and through the parish for summer jobs and summer internships. 

Don't just send them off, hoping for their continued involvement or return.

George Tsongranis
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