Over 300 youth from around the world gathered in Warsaw, Poland February 10-12, 2023 for the celebration of the World Day of Orthodox Youth.
With the blessing of Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland, the event was organized by the Fellowship of Orthodox Youth in Poland in cooperation with Suprasl: A World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth. Participants came from 15 countries, from as far as Australia and the United States, to celebrate their Orthodox faith and explore the theme, “For where two or three are gathered in my name there I am among them.” Mt 18:20.
The celebration combined worship, fellowship, discussions, and cultural entertainment. On Friday evening the participants enjoyed a cultural evening as they were treated to a theatrical performance titled, “Road to Paradise ” which detailed the history, culture, and life of Belarussians living in Poland and a concert of Belarussian folk music. Taking advantage of the fast-free Friday, the youth enjoyed a traditional Polish bonfire with kielbasa and bigos (a Polish stew of meat, sauerkraut, and shredded fresh cabbage). Impromptu Serbian folk dancing and Georgian folk singing also made the evening an unforgettable night of Orthodox culture and fellowship.
On Saturday the participants began the day with morning prayers before embarking on a day of visits to places of cultural and historic interest in Warsaw including Holy Trinity Chapel in the old town, the oldest Orthodox Chapel in Warsaw founded in 1818.
In the afternoon the youth attended a concert that included folk music by the Rikhi Ensemble from Gori, Georgia, and a memorable performance by Enej, a Polish-Ukrainian Folk-Rock band.
Following the concert, the participants participated in an open question-and-answer session with Bishops, Clergy, and Monastics. Participating in the panel discussion were His Grace Bishop Andrew of Suprasl; His Grace Bishop Varsonufry of Siemiatycze; Mother Catherine, Superior of the Monastery of Saint Catherine the Great in Zaleszany, Poland; Archimandrite Stefan Toma, Holy Ascension Greek Orthodox Church in Berlin; and Priest Timothy Yates from the Orthodox Church in America.
On Sunday the Divine Liturgy at Warsaw’s Hagia Sophia was celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa, His Eminence Archbishop Gregory of Bielsk Podlaski, His Grace Bishop Andrew of Suprasl, and His Grace Bishop Varsonufry of Siemiatycze together with parish dean Mitred Archpriest Adam Siemieniuk and local and visiting clergy. The Divine Liturgy was followed by a festive meal.
The importance of this international celebration of the World Day of Orthodox Youth is best summed up by Gregorz Garbus from Poland who described his experience in this way, “This celebration of the Word Day of Orthodox Youth was an unforgettable time for me. This was my second international event, the first of them was the World Gathering of Orthodox Youth in
Supraśl, Poland last summer. Both then and now, after the event, I was accompanied by the conviction that I finally felt what the Church is. I didn’t understand it, but I felt it. How can you explain that dozens of people who have never met, who speak different languages and represent different cultures, can create such deep friendships and strong bonds in just a few days? I don’t know how it works, but it works! I think this is the power of being in the Church, where we have the opportunity to feel some tiny particle of infinite divine love.”
Suprasl, A World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth is an association that seeks to network and bring together youth from around the world. It was founded in the Summer of 2022 following the success of Suprasl 2022: A World Gathering of Orthodox youth which was held at the Monastery of the Annunciation in Suprasl, Poland.