One of the greatest joys in my priesthood thus far (all 601 days of it as of today) has been how as a parish St. Alban’s supports and appreciates our children and youth.  I remember last year around this time being pleasantly surprised at the feelings of love and support that you all give to our youth.  Over the course of a six week period every year our children and youth are involved in making happen the Christmas Eve Pageant, the Rite 13 Celebration, the J2A Super Bowl Chili Sale and Rite 13 Mardi Gras Pancake Supper.  Yes, it is a lot of activity and planning and DOING.   None of this is done without the many helping hands of the parents, adult leaders, and mentors.  I am so thankful for the many, many hours they invest in our Children’s Ministries and Youth Programs–in fact pray for the J2A parents, leaders and youth as today we start the two days of cooking the J2A Super Bowl Chili.

J2A Super Bowl Chili makings ready to go for this weekend.

J2A Super Bowl Chili makings ready to go for this weekend.

But the larger story is that at every turn there is wonderful support and enthusiasm for these events from our congregation.  But, more importantly there exists in this place a genuine desire to know and love and nurture the children and youth of this parish.   And, while one would expect or hope it is that way at every parish, the truth is that while it might be to some extent in other places, St. Alban’s takes the cake when it comes to embracing our children and youth as special, important, vital and loved.  In doing so, we as a congregation are more fully living into our baptismal covenant.  Many of the youth in our three youth programs were baptized here at St. Alban’s and the promises that were made at their baptisms are being kept.

“After all have been presented, the Celebrant addresses the congregation, 
Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?

People      We will.”

An example of that came in the form of some feedback I received this week after the Rite 13 Celebration where our, “Celebrities” constructed–as they do every year–posters which depict who they are as people (using pictures, words or phrases clipped from magazines, fishing lures, and this year even one that used different colors of duct tape).  Following the 9:15 a.m. service the posters were displayed at a special reception where the “Celebrities” explained their posters to those who came by.  After the reception the posters were carefully taken down and put in the Rite 13 room in the rectory.  Almost a dozen of the people who attended the 11:15 a.m. service have come and sought me out saying how disappointed they were that they didn’t get a chance to see the posters, “It is one of my favorite things, getting to see those posters and learn about our young people…I just love it” one person said. *

All of this is to say:  Thank you, St. Alban’s for all of the myriad ways that you support, nurture, encourage, and love our youth.  Thank you for asking them to tell you about themselves, for coming to special receptions and forums, for buying gallons of chili that support our J2A Pilgrimages–this year to Wales, for involving the youth in our liturgies and our vestry meetings….and for all of the other ways you show them that they are precious and valuable and important.

With a truly thankful heart, I remain your brother in Christ,


* At the suggestion of The Rev. Jim Quigley, and the consent of our rector, I will be exploring ways that we can display the posters our youth make for their Rite 13 Celebrations in a semi-permanent fashion going forward.  Details and wonderful posters to follow…

About matthewhanisian

Associate Rector at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.
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