Connecting Youth and Church – Khalil Samara

I feel truly blessed that I had the opportunity to interview Khalil Samara.  He is a husband, father, Subdeacon, the Vice-Chair of the Department of Camping for the Antiochian Archdiocese, and is a talented Iconographer. He has been in Youth Ministry for many years, and continues to share his broad range of talents with our youth.

Through hard work and initiative, he has helped to establish new programs within the Antiochian Village camping ministry.  Some of these programs include Winter, Family, Chanting, and Iconography Camps.  Through these ministries, our youth have the opportunity to grow closer to their faith in such a beautiful way, and are able to learn tangible skills connected to the foundation of our worship.  Likewise they are able to then give back to The Church by using these skills, as well as teaching them to others.

In addition to his wonderful work with the youth, he is a talented Iconographer.

These are just a few of his incredible icons.

Hello my Name is: Khalil Samara

My patron saint is: St. George the Great Martyr and his feast day is April 23.

My favorite children’s music CD is “Celebrate the Feasts” by Gigi Baba Shadid. Gigi and I were friends from when we worked together at the Antiochian Village Summer Camp. The first half of the songs on the CD were written and performed by Gigi, and they are about various feasts of the Church, and the second half of the CD are the actual Apolytikia (Dismissal Hymns) of the Feasts chanted in traditional Byzantine melodies. My favorite song that Gigi wrote is called “Patron Saint George”, which is about the life of my patron saint. It is a great CD for young people of all ages to enjoy.

My job is: taking care of my son Jonah who is 4 months old. In addition to raising Jonah, I work for the Department of Camping of the Antiochian Archdiocese which oversees 8 summer camp programs. I am also studying the sacred art of Iconography and painting icons for personal home use or for churches. You can visit my website at to see some icons that I have completed.

What I love about my job: I enjoy my work with the camp programs because camp gives young people an opportunity to have a living experience of the Orthodox faith in a tight community with their peers. Some pressures from the secular world are removed, and more opportunities are given to our young people at camp to grow closer to Christ. Though I don’t get to be at camp all summer, I know that the administrative work that I do is indirectly helping these young people live in communion with one another and grow in their faith. My work as an Iconographer is very rewarding because I am able to study the lives of the saints and learn more about these holy people that have gone before us. A completed icon is not about the iconographer that painted it, but rather about the saint or feast depicted in it and bringing those that venerate the icon closer to Christ.

If I could tell our youth one thing it would be: God loves you. No matter how many mistakes you make, or how many right things you do, God will always love you and be there for you. Take the time to get to know Him, know His Church, and know His children. If you look at everyone around you, you are looking at God’s children (young and old). Every single person on Earth was created in God’s image, and it is our job to recognize that in ourselves, and in everyone around us. When you see someone look at a newborn child, you will see a look of joy in their eyes. No matter if the baby cries or screams or makes a dirty diaper, we look at the baby with love and adoration. We can’t wait to hold the baby, comfort them, and smile at them. This is how God rejoices when he sees us. No matter what we do, good or bad, God still wants to hold us in His loving arms, comfort us, and smile at us.

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