An Incredible 2023 for Sydney Youth

As we look back on 2023, we reflect on the events and initiatives hosted by the Assyrian Church of the East in Sydney throughout the year. Our youth community experienced a year of immense growth—both in numbers and in faith. From spiritual retreats to cultural celebrations, each event became a stepping stone for our members to draw closer to one another and deepen their connection with God.

We kicked of the year by attending the 5th Archdiocesan Youth Conference hosted by ACEYA Melbourne. The conference provided us with a unique opportunity to unite with fellow Youth from Melbourne and New Zealand, sharing our faith together as one Church. The Conference theme, “Let Your Minds Be Above,’ served as a guiding light, encouraging us to elevate our thoughts to the Lord and His Kingdom. The memories created and the friendships formed during the Conference will undoubtedly remain etched in our hearts as we continue our journey of faith together.

The Annual Youth Meet gathers our Youth across all parishes to kickstart our ministries for the year. His Eminence Mar Meelis Zaia participates among our Youth to deliver a sermon tailored for our Youth. In 2023, we also announced the parish Youth committees for the 2023-2024 period, setting the stage for a year filled with purpose and dedication to our faith. We hosted many Joint Bible Studies throughout the year, rotating between our three parishes. St Hurmizd’s Youth also dedicated their most recent JBS to the victims of the Baghdidatragedy. Our weekly Bible studies have become a foundation of our spiritual journey, fostering a sense of growth and fellowship within our Youth, allowing us to delve into Scripture by discussing its teachings and strengthening our understanding of the faith. Occasionally, our Tuesdays include fellowship events. From engaging trivia nights to competitive games such as spoons and musical chairs, and even creative competition such as our annual gingerbread house competition, these events not only add a touch of fun to our week but also deepen the bonds of friendship among our Youth members.

As we journeyed on through the year, our Parish Youth Committees hosted events and activities that contribute to our spiritual growth. The St Hurmizd’s Youth Committee hosted a Spiritual Reflection Day to mark the middle of the Great Fast, where our Youth travelled to Berrima and engaged in prayers, reflection, and fellowship. St Hurmizd’s Youth also hosted the annual Night with Christ Prayer Vigil and Sleepover on Thursday of the Passover. Our Youth spent the night before our Lord’s Crucifixion in deep vigil, staying up with Christ and reflecting on His immense love for humanity. The St Mary’s Youth Committee hosted a Prayer Night under the stars, drawing the Youth into an intimate communion of prayer and fellowship. These gatherings provide a unique opportunity for spiritual nourishment, allowing the Youth to find comfort and strength in collective prayer.

In a vibrant celebration of our rich Assyrian heritage, ACEYA Sydney collaborated with the Assyrian-owned clothing brand, Nura Khatha. This exciting partnership allowed for the creation of exclusive jumpers and t-shirts, uniquely designed to commemorate the Assyrian New Year. By wearing these special pieces, we not only adorned ourselves in cultural pride but also amplified our collective sense of identity and connection.

August was a very special month for some of our Youth. Embarking on a journey to our ancestral homeland, Assyria, our Youth participated in the Inaugural International Youth Conference in Erbil. This trip served as a momentous occasion, uniting us with fellow Youth from our beloved Church across the globe. The experience was particularly memorable for those among us who set foot on Assyrian soil for the first time, allowing for the connection to our land to be reignited within us. As we travelled through historical and religious sites, we reconnected with our roots, tracing the footsteps of our ancestors, and deepening our understanding of our rich faith and culture.

We carried on ACEYA tradition by hosting our Annual Walkathon fundraiser for 2023. The Walkathon, hosted by all our parish Youth committees, is a cherished event that unites our community as one Church. It is more than just a physical walk; but a collective spiritual journey where we walk with Christ, following in His footsteps. 2023 saw the largest Walkathon yet, with over 800 walkers joining us and donating to the cause. In the spirit of giving back, we partnered with Mission Australia to conduct a Winter Appeal, where our generous community donated blankets, socks, and sleeping bags to those facing homelessness. Our youth actively embraced the Maidservant of the Lord’s Mission initiative which is run by St. Mary’s Church, demonstrating a compassionate commitment to serving the community. Volunteering their time and efforts, our Youth actively participated in the monthly homeless feedings, extending a helping hand to those in need. ACEYA’s Annual Toy Drive also brought the spirit of giving to life as our community generously came together to donate toys for the kids at Westmead Children’s Hospital. The overwhelming generosity of our community resulted in an impressive donation of 10 trolleys filled with toys, allowing all children to experience joy and warmth during the Christmas season.

ACEYA’S Annual Youth Retreat was a transformative experience for our Youth, as they immersed themselves in a three-day spiritual journey, forging lasting memories and drawing closer to God. Guided by our Retreat theme from Psalm 121, “I Will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills,” the Retreat inspired us to shift our focus towards God’s love and grace.

The much-anticipated ACEYA Apparel official drop during winter saw the release of cozy hoodies that quickly became a seasonal favourite. Now, just in time for summer, we’re excited to unveil our latest addition of new t-shirts. More than just fashion statements, these garments carry a deeper significance as they feature faith-based designs. In wearing our faith, ACEYA Apparel allows us to carry the Gospel with us wherever we go, creating a unique and meaningful way to spread the Word.

Winter brought many activities to ACEYA Sydney as our Youth community hosted a series of events and initiatives. The St Hurmizd’s Youth Committee hosted a memorable Vivid Night, where our Youth travelled to the city, shared a delightful dinner, and walked around viewing the 2023 Vivid light display.

The St Hurmizd’s and St Mary’s Youth Committees further enriched the winter season with enlightening movie nights, featuring the documentary on the revered saint, Mar Yosip Khnanisho. To end off our winter events, the Ss Peter and Paul’s Youth Committee organised a Trivia Night, followed by dinner and a bonfire.

The ACEYA Champions League brought a thrilling burst of energy as our youth showcased their soccer skills against each other in Ultimtate Soccer, making it a day filled with friendly competition and fun. Concurrently, our new Khigga Lessons initiative added a vibrant cultural touch to our Youthactivities. Through this program, our talented Youth took the lead in teaching traditional Assyrian dances to one another, in preparation for our upcoming Annual Youth Dine.

We ended the year off with a bang with the much-anticipated Annual Youth Dine! As our final event for the year, it served as a celebration full of joy, fun, and lots of Khigga! Our Youth came together to celebrate the end of what has been one of the most memorable years in ACEYA history.

2023 was a truly remarkable and transformative journey for Sydney Youth, as we navigated path of spiritual growth and fellowship. Through our many activities and events, we saw our Youth drawing closer to the Lord, fostering a deeper connection with their faith. These events not only strengthened our spiritual foundation but also forged lasting bonds amongst our members. As we reflect on the past year, it becomes evident that 2023 was a year of spiritual enrichment and lasting connections to our community.

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