Chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Department of Youth and Parish Ministries since July 1989, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura has been training adult youth directors since the late 1980s, creating and implementing youth training programs across the United States and Canada. Father Joseph has held numerous appointments over the past 30 years, including: Spiritual Advisor to parish teen groups, Spiritual Advisor of Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations (SOYO) in both the Eastern Region and New England Region, Spiritual Advisor for the North American Council of SOYO from 1985-1991, Campus Ministry Director, Antiochian Village Camp Director, Administrator to the NAC Teen Coaches for the Special Olympics Training Camp, and currently as Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, where he manages a number of ministries for teens across North America, and oversees the North American and Diocesan Youth Directors, Spiritual Advisors, and teen leaders.
Father Joseph began developing future church leaders as founder of the SOYO Leadership Training Program, now in its sixth year. He is also the first and current Facilitator of the Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
Father earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, while living and studying at St. Vladimir's, where he graduated with the Class of 1979. Later, he earned a D.Min. from Pittsburgh Theological School, and his doctoral project was titled "Moral and Ethical Issues Confronting Orthodox Youth across North America." He also holds a Master of Sacred Theology from Yale University School of Divinity, with a concentration in ministering to the bereaved. As an instructor, Fr. Joseph teaches in both the St. Stephen's regular and residency programs in the Antiochian House of Studies, and directs the youth ministry concentration for the St. Stephens Program.
Father's wife, Kathleen (Nackel) Purpura, is a graduate of Holy Cross Theological Seminary, and a leading authority in youth ministry, a founder of the Youth Potential Advisory Group for the Greater Boston area, a substance-prevention specialist, and the Executive Director of the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth. They have four children.
- B.A., Iona College
- M.Div., St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
- S.T.M., Yale University School of Theology
- D.Min., Pittsburgh Theological School
Current Projects and Research Interests
I am the Chair of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA) and I oversee the North American Council of Teen Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations (SOYO), the youth movement of AOCANA. I facilitate the Committee for Youth of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. I teach a class on youth ministry at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. I oversee the Youth Ministry Concentration in the Antiochian House of Studies School of Orthodox Theology St Stephen’s Certificate Program and teach several Youth Ministry classes in that program.
Recent Courses Taught at SVOTS
- Youth Ministry (D.Min. course)
- Moral and Ethical Issues Confronting Orthodox Christian Teens Across North America (AuthorHouse, 2002)
- Regular contributor to The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America website (1995 to present)
- Creator and regular contributor to The North American Council of SOYO website (2012 to present)
- Contributor to the WORD Magazine
- “SOYO Leadership Manual” An annual Leadership manual for Teen Leaders (unpublished worked distributed to Youth Leaders at the Annual SOYO Leadership Conferences, 2007-2010)
- Teen SOYO, Sing Praises. CD. Producer: Joseph F. Purpura (2004)
- Antiochian Village Camp Music. CD. Producer: Joseph F. Purpura (1996)
Recent Conference Presentations and Activities
- Presentation at Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas Symposium, Youth Religious Education: Wisdom from Christian Tradition for the Contemporary Society, New York NY, April 16 2016
- “Living an Orthodox Life on Campus,” Purdue University Orthodox OCF House, West Lafayette IN, February 5 2013
- “What Stands in the Way of Keeping our Teens in the Church,” Orthodox Christian Youth Worker Conference, Austin TX, January 26, 2013
- “Youth Ministry – Keeping our Kids in the Church and What Gets in the Way: Substance Abuse,” Christian Education Conference, Bolivar PA, November 2 2012
- “Issues Confronting Orthodox Christian Youth,” presentation to youth of St James Orthodox Church, Loveland OH, October 19 2012
- “Issues Confronting Orthodox Christian Youth,” presentation to the parents of St. James Orthodox Church, Loveland OH, October 20 2012
- “The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth,” St. George Church, Boston MA, September 2012
- “Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and other Substance Use Amongst Orthodox Teens,” Clergy Symposium, Antiochian Village, Bolivar PA, July 16, 2012
- “Making Good Choices,” presentation to teens and young adults, Halifax Nova Scotia, February 9 2012
- “What Stands in the Way of Keeping Our Children in the Church,” presentation to parents in Halifax Nova Scotia, February 8 2012
- Invocation, 21st National Awards Luncheon for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership Forum (1,600 Federal and Coalition Leaders present)
- “The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth,” St. George Church, Indianapolis IN, November 2010
- “The Healthy Youth Initiative,” Holy Resurrection Church, Tucson AZ, September 2010
- “Substance Abuse Prevention in our Orthodox Teen Communities,” St. George Church, Cicero IL, August 2010
- “Healthy Youth Coalition Building,” St. Michael Church, Louisville KY, August 2010
- “Substance Abuse Prevention,” St. George Church, Cleveland OH, July 2010
- “Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Building,” St. Michael Church, Greenburg PA, July 2010
- “Christian Marriage and Family,” presented at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Waymart PA, November 25 2008