2019 was a banner year for this decades-old program known as Jordanville’s "summer boys." Last year, an all-time record of 21 boys attended the program, and this year saw another tremendous increase of almost 50% – to 31 participants.
The program was run under the guidance and oversight of Priest Ephraim Willmarth, Director of Admissions and Registrar of Holy Trinity Seminary. Fr Ephraim was assisted by Priest Daniel Franzen (who this fall is entering his final year of the M.Div. program), and Professor Edward Novis (the seminary's Philosophy and English Instructor).
The Summer Youth Program at Holy Trinity Monastery was established to expose young men to the rich spiritual heritage and legacy of the Russian Church Abroad. Its objectives are to nurture the development of the young men in the areas of spiritual discipline, steadfastness, and sobriety through a structured program of participation in the monastic community.
Participants "unplugged" from computer, smart phone, and Internet use, including any and all electronic devices. When a film or video is featured in the program, it is for all participants to watch together.
Participants are 15 to 18 years old. During this three-week period, the young men attended and participated in the daily cycle of services and partook of the Mysteries of Holy Confession and Communion once a week. While attending meals in the monastery refectory, they listened to the daily readings from the Lives of the Saints. There was spiritual instruction in the Faith and teachings of the Orthodox Church on a daily basis, with various clergymen and guest speakers presenting on a variety of topics relevant to young men who are preparing for college or careers. Included among these speakers was five-time Emmy award-winning actor, author, and musician Jonathan Jackson, who visited the monastery and seminary for the first time with his wife and youngest child. Jackson spoke to the boys from the heart about how one can work for many years in Hollywood, and yet remain firmly grounded as an Orthodox Christian.
The young men worked alongside the monastics in their various daily obediences, tending the monastery’s cemetery by assisting with landscaping and gravedigging, working in the vegetable garden, cooking for the brotherhood and program participants, helping with various construction and repair projects, working in the candle factory, incense factory, apiary, and learning the art of bell ringing. They also had the opportunity to enjoy summer recreational activities such as sports, swimming, hiking, fishing, campfires, and field trips.