FAIR LAWN, N.J. — The members of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) Juniors gathered over Columbus Day weekend at St. Leon Armenian Church of Fair Lawn for their annual Sports Weekend. The parish hosted 285 participants from 17 parishes across the Diocese under the theme of “Rise Hye, Live, Thrive.”
The Rev. Diran Bohajian, pastor of St. Leon, and event co-chairs Serda Belekdanian and Diane Zoraian worked alongside dedicated community members to ensure the success of the weekend. Events were held at the church’s Charles and Grace Pinajian Youth Center, and participants were housed with local families.
Kathryn Ashbahian, of the Diocesan Youth and Young Adult Ministries department, was present throughout the weekend and offered an encouraging message during morning service before the kids broke off to play their Saturday games. Once the sports concluded for the day, participants headed home for dinner with their host family before heading to a Hollywood-inspired social and dance.
As part of a service project for the weekend, participants came loaded with items to donate for those who have experienced the devastation of the recent hurricane season. The ACYOA Juniors were asked to collect baby wipes, diapers, flashlights and batteries to donate to the “Empire State Relief Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico.” JetBlue Airlines will fly the items to Puerto Rico for distribution to those who need it most.
On Sunday, Fr. Bohajian celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and the church pews were happily packed with the weekend’s participants and parishioners. After finishing their final sports and games competitions, participants gathered at St. Leon Church for an awards ceremony and Hawaiian-themed banquet, where they danced to Armenian and American music. On Monday morning, everyone gathered for a farewell breakfast before heading back home.