Saints—our extended family in Christ—are a great blessing in so many ways: their lives and examples, their intercessions, their miraculous interventions. Some saints have a particular “resonance” with people, such as St. Nektarios of Pentapolis, who was rightly called “The Saint for our Century,” because so many people have been drawn to the story of his life (even more so after the recent film) and through that to a closer relationship with him.
Another saint who resonates with our modern condition is the newly-revealed St. Ephraim of Nea Makri. His life bears little resemblance to ours, being a monastic and martyr under the oppression of the Ottoman Turks, who horrifically murdered him without provocation in the early 15th Century at a monastery near Athens. For centuries he was unknown to anyone except to God. More than 500 years later in 1945, by God’s grace, St. Ephraim revealed his holy relics and the story of his life to a pious nun.
Though his life is so very different from ours, he has been brought close to us in another way: God has revealed him to be a fervent intercessor and miracle worker for the faithful in these past decades, especially for the youth, for drug addicts, and those struggling with depression and psychological ailments. (A short collection of St. Ephraim’s miracles can be found here. Much more can be found in the book about him, available at Logos Bookstore.)
We live in an age where depression, addiction, and psychological maladies are rampant—especially among our youth. Correspondingly, God in His great love and foreknowledge, gave us a saint who battles on behalf of the embattled, protects those who are vulnerable, and heals those who are sick. Many parents have become close to St. Ephraim through their fervent prayers for their struggling children. Likewise those who are plagued with depression or addiction have also found solace in praying the Akathist or the Paraklesis to St. Ephraim.
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri is commemorated on May 5, the day of his martyrdom, which he shares with the Great Martyr Irene. (He is also commemorated on January 3, the day that his relics were revealed.) At St. John we will have Orthros and Divine Liturgy to celebrate both St. Ephraim and St. Irene: Thursday, May 5, starting at 7:30 am.
* * *
In addition to the fervent intercession of St. Ephraim, our youth also need more support within our parish. The parish council has voted to hire a Director of Youth & Family Ministries, so that our youth ministries can address the urgent needs of the youngest generation—those who have been the hardest hit, socially and psychologically, by the COVID era.
This new position—which needs further discussion within the parish and ultimately a vote at general assembly—would also be broader than just a youth director. The person would work full-time for the parish, managing all youth ministries, as well as organizing retreats for families and parents, coordinating with the other ministries, and assisting in parish life in other ways.
It is very important to get everyone’s input on this major decision. Please attend the upcoming town hall on Saturday, May 7 at 6:00 pm, where the proposed position will be discussed. Also be sure to attend the spring general assembly two weeks later.
* * *
Lastly, beginning this month we will have another way to pray for the youth: Every Thursday at 9:00 am, we will read the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children in the church. All are welcome to join in prayer!