About Joseph Purpura
Joseph Purpura has worked as an Orthodox priest for forty years. After graduating high school, Father Purpura enrolled in St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. While attending St. Vladimir’s, Father Purpura also earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York in 1976. After earning his Master of Divinity from St. Vladimir’s, Father Purpura was assigned to work in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Soon after moving to Connecticut, Father Purpura enrolled at Yale University and earned his Master of Sacred Theology in 1982. His thesis was entitled “Ministering to the Bereaved.” In 1980 Father Purpura began to serve as the Spiritual Advisor of the Society of Orthodox Youth Organizations (SOYO), in both the Eastern Region and the New England Region. He held this position for ten years.
At the moment Joseph Purpura holds three positions. Since 1990 he has worked as the Administrator to the NAC Teen Coaches for the Special Olympics Training Camp. He is the Co-Founder and Manager of the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth, Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Youth (a position he has held since 2008). Finally, since 2010 he has served as the Facilitator of the Committee for Youth for the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
One of the best aspects of Joseph Purpura’s work is getting to work with young people. Both Father Purpura and his wife get the opportunity to teach young people about leadership skills so that they can achieve success throughout their lives. Because he enjoys the work so much there are rarely any challenges associated with it. Even children who are labeled “bad” are a joy to work with. Father Purpura’s experience has taught him that “bad” kids are often acting out because they are suffering in some way. Father Purpura says “Our job as youth workers is to help heal that pain and bring back what’s good in them so that the young person can flourish.” When a young person makes a mistake, it doesn’t mean that he or she is “bad.” While their behavior may be bad, the person is not a bad. Father Purpura enjoys helping young people find themselves and form a strong identity that will help them throughout their lives.
In addition to teaching youth, Joseph Purpura has also traveled across North America to teach clergy, adult youth workers, and others community members how to work with youth. Ultimately, Father Purpura’s goal with teaching youth is to train strong Orthodox Christian leaders that will contribute to their communities and eventually lead and teach others.