NEW YORK: Metropolitan Mathews Mar Barnabas encouraged young women of the American Diocese to make their lives a living example to their children and to be sincere in their own lives. His Grace urged to use Pope Shenoda of the Coptic Church as an example in their lives. Pope Shenoda has said that he never gives a speech or address and neither volunteers his advice as his motto is “let people follow what I do.” Mar Barnabas was making his presidential address at the Annual Conference of the Young Women Samajam of the American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church which took place on Saturday June 18, 2005 at St. George Orthodox Church, Staten Island. The theme of this year’s conference was “Parent’s involvement in children’s freedom.” Metropolitan added: as a parent, your aim should be to mold your children in the way of Jesus and to bring everyone closer to God. One also has the right to involve in his or her child’s life, even if it is forced involvement. His Grace also noted that while everyone is selfish or self-centered to some extent, parents should teach their children to be self-forgetting through love.
The keynote speaker for this conference Fr. M.K.Kuriakose began his speech with a quote from the introduction of the book “Freedom by Authority,” by Late H.G. Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios, in which Dr. Paulose Gregorios stated that while everyone is in the quest for freedom, no one is willing to obey each other. In Genesis, we read that man is created in the image of God, thus, we must be like God in our lives as we are images of God. He pointed out that while God has the real freedom because He is the Creator of the universe, we are also given the same freedom. The difference is that we abused our freedom in the Garden of Eden, and became unlike God, but, God never misused His freedom. it also stated that the only way to give freedom is to bring the people towards Christ through the Holy Communion.
Fr. Kuriakose used the example of a typical child’s development to convey our search for freedom in our lives. When a baby is born, its initial search for freedom begins with its eyes, as it searches around wildly for familiar objects and faces, and this same baby soon starts to explore its surroundings through its sense of touch and finally begins to turn over and crawl. Soon, this baby starts to take very small steps and until, one day, he or she is walking and running and is unstoppable in its search of freedom to explore everything and anything in its sight. Achen gave another interesting example when he remarked that we wouldn’t have many of the luxuries we have today if certain people didn’t defy their critics and follow through with their own search for their freedom. In the early 1900’s, the Wright Brothers worked very hard and produced the first airplane, and today, millions of people around the world take this luxury for granted, as we all have flown in the jumbo jets of today carrying almost 600 people around the globe. Could we have enjoyed this luxury had it not been for the exploration of their limits of freedom by the Wright Brothers? We all have studied about the first man to climb Everest, or the first man on the moon, etc., but how many of us are willing to allow our children to explore their inner dreams if they convey to us that their dream is to climb the world’s tallest mountain or to fly into space?
Fr. Kuriakose also said that the most important thing is for parents to know their children well. Parents are the ones who know a child best because “one who sleeps with you knows your night fever.” Communication and an open mind are the key methods to knowing your child better. “Parents must understand their children by giving them ample freedom to enhance their personalities,” Parents must impose discipline as well for it says in Proverbs 23:13, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.” Proverbs 10:13 advises parents that “a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.” Parents must surely restrict certain things and explain these restrictions to their children. Fr .Kuriakose also insisted that parents should not sound hateful in their reprimands as children do not hold grudges. A parent shouldn’t stop talking to their child, even if it is for a short time, because of something the child did. Parents must also make an effort to monitor their children and try to meet their friends whom they spend their time with outside of the home.
After the speeches, there was a group discussion session in which the attendees were split into three groups and were asked to discuss the topic further and converse about the problems or hurdles they have faced in their lives concerning the topic at hand. Everyone agreed that parents must take an extra effort to give love, affection, time, and appreciation to the children and be open-minded in their dealing with their children by understanding that the child is not living in the same country or time in which the parent lived. Parents must learn to trust their children, but, also be logical in giving freedom. Limits should be set, as punishment should be enforced when these limits are broken and these punishments are carried out. Prayer life should also be encouraged in their lives through family prayer at home.
Fr. Ninan T. Easo, Fr. Dr. C. C. Mathews, Fr. John Thomas, and Cor Episcopos Paulose Adai also attended the Conference. The meeting was well attended by many young women from the tri-state area. Following registration and breakfast, the Conference began with a prayer song by Dr. Bindhu K. Lalu and Bible Reading by Sherin Mariam Joy. Fr. Philip C. Abraham, the vicar of the host parish, gave a condolence speech in memory of Mr. K.K. Abraham the twin-brother of H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas. A moment of silence was observed in his memory and in remembrance of Miss Soby Mathew of Chicago. The Business Meeting was conducted by Very Rev. Fr. Paulose Adai Cor Episcopa, the Vice President of the Martha Mariam Samajam. Felicitations were given by Fr. Dr. C. C. Mathews, Fr. John Thomas, and Liziamma Kuruvilla. A bible quiz, organized by Tilly Varughese, was conducted and three winners were awarded trophies at the end of the Conference. There was also a raffle drawing in which four lucky attendees were selected to receive prizes. A 50/50 raffle was also conducted to help the unprivileged women of Kerala, by using the money from donations from the attendees towards the purchase of sewing machines. The Conference was blessed with the melodious songs sung by the choir of the host parish.
The welcome speech was given by Mrs. Shyny Raju, the coordinator of the Young Women Samajam at St. George, Staten Island, and the vote of thanks was given by Mrs. Soffy Wilson, the Diocesan coordinator of the Annual Conference of the Young Women Samajam.