Saturday, March 23, 2013

Palm Sunday is ACYOA Day



Palm Sunday is synonymous with ACYOA Day. (Armenian Church Youth Organization of America) 

According to the official ACYOA website, its purpose is “to focus attention on the vitality of the organization, its members, its accomplishments, and its role in the local parish community. It is also an opportunity for the ACYOA to promote its programs and honor individuals who have made an impact on youth in the Church. ACYOA Day is primarily celebrated in the local parish.”
ACYOA recollections:
As teenagers, my sister and I – and later my brother - belonged to St. Leon Armenian Church (NJ) ACYOA. As members, we were taught leadership skills; sponsored dinners, dances, you name it - we spent all of our free time together, creating life-long friendships.
When our children were old enough, they became members of their respective church’s ACYOA- following in our footsteps. 

For the five years my daughter belonged to St. David (FL) ACYOA Jrs., I co-sponsored the group alongside a childhood friend of mine. As small as the St. David youth group was, they were an active, integral part of our then relatively new parish. Members participated in various aspects of the church –assisting with Sunday School, serving on the altar, and singing in the choir. In addition, they sponsored successful church-related fundraisers, and even provided babysitting services while parents attended parish events. 

Traditionally, at the conclusion of Palm Sunday church services, ACYOA members host a luncheon and program for family and friends to enjoy. 
My special (food-related) recollection:
Photo from causesoftheheart.com

Our annual Palm Sunday luncheon was highlighted with a very special fundraiser - a cake-lighting ceremony - at the conclusion of the program. We had a huge sheet cake – which ultimately became dessert – set on a beautifully decorated table. Guests were invited to come forward to light a candle, in honor of – or in memory of - a loved one. Each name was announced. The guests made a donation, selected a candle, lit it, then placed it in the cake. It was heart-warming to see the cake completely aglow.

Today, ACYOA chapters flourishes thanks to the Armenian youth who are dedicated to their church community, and their supportive clergy, parents, and parishioners. 

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