Very Rev. Raban Jack Yakoub, Director of the Patriarchal Youth Department, thanked His Holiness for taking care of the Suryoyo youth as their spiritual father and beloved friend. He greeted all the youth groups coming from more than 15 different countries wishing them a successful SYGG 2018.
Then, a play was presented illustrating the theme of this year’s gathering: “All things are lawful for me but not all things are helpful” (1 Cor 10:23).
His Eminence Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of Eastern United States, recalled the past SYGGs underlining the aims of these gatherings. He then presented His Holiness and welcomed him in New Jersey – “His Holiness’s home”.
In his opening speech, His Holiness asked the youth to remain fixed to their identity, especially in a great place like America where one might be challenged in preserving one’s identity and caring for his or her spiritual life and also cultural life. He underlined the negative effect of secularism on people, recalling the question of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel: “when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8); “that question” His Holiness added “is very profound because we see the number and percentage of believing people on the decrease.” His Holiness showed his concern about that “because our people are not immune against that; our young people can easily drift away from their family life, community life, and from their religion”. He added: “We are concerned not because we want numbers, but because we want the salvation of souls”. He said that all of us are responsible for each other: “we are a family and we are here because of that”. He noted the importance of this gathering which is an opportunity for all youth to benefit.
He then spoke about the theme of this gathering, emphasizing its importance in our world where lust and greed have no end; “yes we can do everything” he said “but, should we do everything?” he stressed that we should make the right decisions and trust the Lord, and not giving up our faith. His Holiness added “we go through many situations on a daily basis, and we kneel down and we pray, but how many of us believe in the power of that prayer?”
At the end, His Holiness hoped that the coming four days will be an opportunity for all to learn something new concerning our relationship with God and with each other as brothers and sisters.
Their Eminences: Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of Eastern United States, Mor Justinos Boulos Safar, Patriarchal Vicar in Zahla and Bekaa, and Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan, attended the opening ceremony.
SYGG 2018 will be attended by more than 220 youth coming from 15 different countries all over the world. The gathering is taking place at Crystal Springs Resort in New Jersey – USA.