Last Sunday groups of people from most of the 64 communities in the Boston Metropolis converged at Lombardo’s in Randolph, MA, for the annual Metropolis ministry awards dinners.  This is always a big event – there were something like 800 people there.  A hearty Axios to Al Matulaitis, who earned the laity award from our community.  Below are the His Eminence’s remarks from the evening:

“Tonight, as our Metropolis gathers for the 24th time to honor the recipients of the Ministry Award, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Camp Ministry.   Since 1990, over 4500 youngsters from throughout New England, America (and for that matter throughout the world) have attended our Summer and Winter Camp programs  which have been hosted since 1999 at our St. Methodios Faith and Heritage Center in Contoocook, NH.  We hope that many camp alumni will attend our 20th Anniversary Reunion and Open House on Saturday, July 24.

            The camping experience has been one of fun and fellowship which has sought to strengthen the faith of our young people.

            The well organized program affords them the opportunity to engage in discussions with clergy and well trained councilors concerning issues they face in their lives.  They learn how to effectively respond to life’s challenges.  They have the opportunity to discuss their life experiences which are examined under the lens of our faith heritage.  We try to help our young people see clearly which direction they should seek in their lives.  We encourage them to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with confidence.  We encourage them instead of striving for worldly success to strive for lasting significance.

            What has made the Metropolis of Boston Camp so successful is that it is a fun experience.  Campers have the opportunity to participate in a variety of different activities such as volleyball, baseball, basketball, arts and crafts, fishing, dancing, cooking, swimming and numerous other activities.  The fun and fellowship they share provide opportunities to build lifelong friendships amongst not only their peers, but with the dedicated staff members who serve as role models and mentors.

            What we have achieved at our camp is thanks in great part to the Youth Ministers of our Metropolis over these 20 years.  I thank once again our Youth Directors, Father Chris Foustoukos, Father Ted Barbas, and Father Phil Mussis, Mike Sintros and Dino Pappas and the hundreds of staff members and volunteers who have offered such a dynamic ministry.

            It has long been our vision to reach out to offer similar ministries to the adults of our parishes.  Last September, we opened the doors to our new Retreat House on the grounds of the Faith and Heritage Center.  It has fast become a spiritual home away from home where everyone finds joy, peace, healing and salvation.

            It is there where the power, truth and beauty of our Faith may be experienced in a pristine environment.

            We hope that our ministry to adults– to our Parish Councils, Philoptochos, Choir Members, to our educators, senior citizens, etc. — be as effective as has our outreach to our campers who have enjoyed a life changing experience.

            The life of prayer, the study of our theology and the emulation of the lives of the Saints equips all of us—young and old alike–to address the many challenges and opportunities of life.

            It is of vital importance that our Retreat House be a beacon of faith and hope because we seem to have lost sight of what is important and genuine in life.

            The popular mindset today defines  happiness as the ability to acquire the next pleasure as quickly as possible whether that be in the form of a better job, more money, luxury, fashion, etc.

            Living as we do in a culture of entitlement, we have been lured into believing that we deserve everything we have and desire.

            We are experiencing an unparalleled crisis of the human person, of marriage and family, and the Church must respond effectively.

            Sadly, the world around us has come to tolerate, embrace and even champion behaviors and lifestyles that were unacceptable to past generations. The Ten Commandments are nowhere to be found in public places in America.  Our courts have surgically removed every vestige of Christianity from our children’s classrooms.   Traditional Christian values are rejected, ridiculed and demonized.  Sadly, we have become tolerant of all sorts of evil, and of those who promote behavior and beliefs foreign to the eternal truths of the Gospel.  All of us– but especially our young people–are seduced to debauched forms of self expression. Self destructive behavior has been systematically transformed into acceptable—even preferable lifestyles!  Corruption, selfishness and foolishness are packaged today as enlightened, liberated and even spiritually advanced behavior.  Evil has been made to appear as good, and good to appear as evil.  Moral confusion and relativism have permeated our lives.  Their proponents are leading society to abysmal levels of banality never before known to mankind.

            This is why it is so very important that we all be vigilant, that our Retreat House be a beacon of Faith and Hope effectively addressing the needs of the our people.

            With your encouragement we will do our best to meet the challenges of our time.