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Orthodox Young Professionals Conference: Interview with Co-Chair Kyra Pelachik

The second Orthodox Young Professionals Conference is coming up on August 18-21, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. After its great success in San Diego in 2014, the conference, designed especially for career-bound and professional young adults, is expecting even more attendees this summer. Hosted by the newly founded Archdiocese Young Adult Ministry, the conference will offer participants the opportunity to network with other Orthodox Christians from across the country. asked Co-Chair Kyra Pelachik what makes this year different than 2014, and what participants can look forward to in August.

This will be the second conference of its kind.  Why do you think the first one was so successful?

The young professionals who attended the first one were there for all the right and same reasons—to grow spiritually, meet other young professionals from the Archdiocese, and to have some fun together. Paul Karos and Charles Ajalat as speakers were great and really raised the bar high in terms of future speakers. I think that because people knew they were part of something new and fresh it created an atmosphere that people were excited to be a part of.

How will this year be different than 2014?

The biggest difference will be the location—New Orleans! We looked at three different cities as possible locations, and New Orleans turned out to be the best location, offering a hotel with breakfast and light dinner, meeting space for everyone, and a fun destination city! We will have the same schedule as in 2014: A mixer Thursday evening, morning prayers Friday morning followed by our keynote speaker and a Q&A with Metropolitan Joseph. Everyone will be free Friday afternoon to explore the city with Vespers, light dinner, and some fun on Bourbon Street in the evening. Saturday’s schedule will be similar to Friday with morning prayers, the second part of the keynote speaker's talks, followed by our workshop speaker, and then a free afternoon. Saturday night will include Vespers, light dinner at the hotel, and then our closing event at the Grand Oaks Mansion.  Sunday morning we will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Basil Antiochian Orthodox Church in Metairie, Louisiana.   

Tell us more about the speakers.

Archdeacon Saed Rihani is our keynote speaker and hails from St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Palos Heights, Illinois. He came highly recommended from other young professionals who have heard him at young adult retreats and we’re super excited to have him!  He currently oversees the Youth and Fellowship programs at his home parish, and has planned and executed many retreats for teens, young adults, Sunday School staff, and the Antiochian Women. He is dynamic in his presentations and is known for keeping his audience entertained and informed at the same time. 

Our workshop speaker is Jacob Saylor from Scottsdale, Arizona. He is the pastoral assistant/youth director at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and has been working in the youth and young adult ministry since 2007. Jacob has developed and contributed to numerous programs and curriculums across the country, and has been a guest lecturer and speaker at various regional and metropolis retreats and workshops across the country.

What are some of the ingredients to this conference that you think will make it worth the young professional's time and money?

Because this conference only happens every two years, missing this, means you are missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! New Orleans also offers an amazing venue and the twenty committee members and I have worked hard to put this conference together for an incredible four days. We have expended a great deal of effort to secure a solid slate of speakers, and we've worked diligently to craft very focused, very relevant topics of discussion. We also have planned great evening events that give a true flavor of New Orleans with some local jazz music, the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street, and the atmosphere of the bayou.  

What are you looking forward to most at the conference?

I’m excited to see all my friends! I wasn’t able to go to my Parish Life Conference this year so I’m looking forward to ‘praying and playing’ with them. I’m also looking forward to the speakers and of course the evening events. I’m secretly waiting for everyone’s jaw to drop when we arrive for the Saturday night event at the Grand Oaks Mansion!

Register for the Orthodox Young Professionals Conference at  

Kyra Pelachik sits on the Young Adult Ministry Board as the Young Professionals Conference Co-Chair. Previously, she was involved with the Fellowship of St. John the Divine for 11 years, both on the diocese level and on the national level. She also currently serves on her local Parish Council at St. Mark Antiochian Orthodox Church in Irvine, CA. Professionally, Kyra has worked for non profit organizations for over 12 years. In addition to her bachelor's degree, she also holds certificates in professional fundraising and in meeting and event planning. Kyra currently resides in Orange County, California, and is excited for this upcoming conference.