2003: New OCAY Group in South Texas
PHARR: A sparkling, new OCAY group began “letting its light Shine” at St. George Orthodox Church in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas this liturgical new year! Membership consists of both youth and young adults who began holding regular monthly meetings in September 2003 in Pharr. St. George’s is the only Orthodox Christian Church in the “borderlands,” which consists of the vast Rio Grande region where the river winds its way through lower Texas and flows out into the Gulf of Mexico.
At the September OCAY meeting, the attendees elected officers, began discussion for a “local chapter” name and planned their focus for the next few meetings. This year’s officers are: Analucia Perdomo, President; Daniel Adams, Vice-President; Arielle Evans, Treasurer; Michael Schroen, Secretary; and Cristina Perdomo, Artistic Director. The group’s adult sponsors are Lori Elizabeth Thompson and Dr. Marc Simpson, with assistance from Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo. The meeting included an enthusiastically contested game of team “Logos” (an Orthodox word game) and concluded with pizza for all!
The October meeting was to have been a brief business meeting followed by a rousing game of volleyball, but since there was a chilly rain falling, we had to go to “Plan B.” This consisted of meeting at the Perdomo’s home, planning for future activities and eating brownies. After much lively discussion, an OCAY “local name” was at last decided upon. The name which was unanimously approved is: “All American Saints Orthodox Youth” or AASOY. Even though the acronym sounds a bit like a Lenten Chinese dinner, it is meant to “allow room” for new future Saints which, according to the youth, will surely come from All over the Americas! Members are encouraged to submit AASOY “logo” design ideas which will be voted on at their November meeting.
The upcoming November meeting’s primarily focus will be packaging small bags of candy which will then be distributed to children in Mexico during the upcoming Nativity season. The bagged candy will be shared at a “Fiesta” which is hosted by the missionary family of one of our OCAY members. This year will be the “7th Annual Fiesta de la Navidad.” It takes place in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the border town of Reynosa. The Evans are dedicated Christians who staff and facilitate a year-round weekly alternative free health care service. They run the clinic in a shack-and-shanty neighborhood and serve many who live as “squatters” in the nearby Solares colonia, which was a former brick factory and the city dump. Their ministry is the only health care which most of their clients ever receive. Both last and this year, OCAY youth, members and friends of St. George’s will be helping with the “Fiesta.” Other candy bags will be taken to a girl’s orphanage in Reynosa called “Casa Amparo,” which our Parish has helped out during the holiday seasons for many years. OCAY youth and other St. George’s members will also be collecting and delivering food to the Orphanage during the upcoming holiday season.
In December, our local AASOY (OCAY) group will be very busy. Some will be helping at our St. George’s Open House and International Bake Fest on December 6th. Others will be Directing and Producing the Parish’s annual “Children’s Nativity Play.” Members will help with props, costumery and casting the Church’s younger children as they share a performance which remembers the story of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.
Some of our local OCAY members will also be singing at the “Candlelight Posadas” performance to be held in early December in McAllen, Texas. At this event, Parish adults and youth will sing traditional Orthodox hymns and songs of the Nativity season. In addition, our local AASOY group will particpate in a mid-December Christmas Caroling activity in the neighborhood of the Church as well as for several
nearby elderly residential communities. After caroling, a “fasting” pot-luck supper, complete with more singing and hot apple cider, is planned for all at the Perdomo’s home.
Submitted by: Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo,
Member of the SE Deanery Youth Team of the OCA Diocese of the South