New England Deanery Hosts High School Advent Retreat
December 1, 2002
DANBURY, CT - The New England Deanery held its first annual Advent Retreat for High School
students from Friday, November 22 to Saturday, November 23. Building on the firm
foundation of the many friendships that have developed between the young adults
of the New England Deanery from their common experience of Camp Nazareth, Fr.
Luke Mihaly and Fr. Peter Paproski held a retreat to further cement the
spiritual friendships of the New England Deanery youth. The retreat was held at
St. Cuthbert's Retreat House in Brewster, New York.
Eleven High School young adults from Holy Trinity Danbury, Connecticut, St.
John's, Mill Hill Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut and St. John's Broadbridge
Avenue Stratford, Connecticut participated. The theme of the Retreat was THE
LIGHT OF CHRIST ILLUMINES ALL. The retreat began on Friday evening with
registration and a pizza dinner followed by a workshop on Plain Chant. During
the Plain Chant workshop, everyone learned to sing the Diocesan Anointing
Service to St. Nectarios.
Fr. Luke Mihaly gave the first talk that discussed lighting the fire of faith
within ones heart. For many of us who grew up in the Orthodox Faith, our meeting
point is the liturgy. Unfortunately, our faith often times doesn't go beyond the
four walls of the church. It is essential that you make you Orthodox Christian
Faith real. If Christ is real to you, you can make Christ real to other people.
What we hope to do in less than 24 hours, is light the fire of ardent love for
Jesus Christ in your hearts so that you will be able to carry that flame of
Jesus Christ into your homes, your families, your parishes indeed into your
schools and where ever you go. But the only way we can light that flame of
Christ in us is if we voluntarily enter the flame of faith and love of Jesus
Christ. Just as we cannot light a candle unless we place the wick directly in
the flame, so too we cannot become Christians aflame with the love of Christ
unless we enter into the flame of prayer and spiritual life that Jesus asks us
to do." Following Fr. Luke's talk the Small Compline service was held at the
small chapel. Again building on the success of Camp Nazareth, a clergy Rap
session was held and a lengthy discussion followed regarding our spiritual life.
Lights went out at 11:20 PM.
Saturday morning everyone was in Chapel by 8 AM for morning prayers which was
followed by breakfast. Soon after breakfast the group was separated into two for
a biblical scavenger hunt. Each group was given passages from the Old and New
Testament that had references to fire and flame. After this the two groups were
brought back together to see how these biblical passages referred to the theme
of the retreat. The talks were intensive and the depth of spiritual maturity was
evident. The morning discussion culminated by watching a videotape on the
missionary work that being done in Calcutta, India. The video tape, produced by
the Orthodox Christian Mission center, helped the young adults of the New
England Deanery to see that their faith can and should have an impact on the
lives of those around them. A discussion ensued afterwards as to what the New
England Deanery Youth can do to put their faith to work. Such ideas as helping
the St. Nicholas Orphanage in Slovakia, working in local soup kitchens and
collecting food and clothing throughout the year instead of only at Thanksgiving
were some of the ideas that came from this vibrant and enthusiastic group of
The Youth decided to further investigate the possibility - through the office
of the Metropolitan - of sending a Youth group to spend time working at St.
Nicholas Orphanage in Slovakia and also the possibility of sponsoring some of
the orphans to spend a camping Sessions at our own Camp Nazareth.
The whole retreat ended Saturday with the Diocesan St. Nectarios Society
service of anointing. All who attended sang the responses with much joy and
enthusiasm and all came forward to be anointed with oil from St. Nectarios. The
Youth also decided to meet together for a "Lock-in" at St. John's church in
Bridgeport and a day of Duckpin bowling in Stratford. By all accounts the
overnight retreat was a success and everyone was very much moved by the whole
Many thanks to Christina Adzima who helped to chaperone the event, and to
Subdeacons Robert Hubiak and Gregory Justiniano.