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2018 Eastern Region Lenten Retreat (3/24/18)

The 2018 Diocesan Eastern Regional Lenten Retreat took place on Saturday March 24, 2018 at the St. Francis Center for Renewal in Bethlehem, PA. Once again, the retreat was co-sponsored by the Ukrainian Orthodox League of the USA and the National ACRY. It was truly a Pan-Orthodox Event with nearly 150 people in attendance from the Ukrainian Orthodox Diocese, the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

This year the retreat was entitled Our Call To Become Disciples And To Evangelize. The day started with morning prayers and breakfast. His Grace, Bishop Gregory, as he did at the Central Region retreat spoke on the theme Engage The Call To Be A Disciple.

Following lunch, the group was inspired by the words of Fr. Anthony Perkins as he focused on how we need to pattern our personal lives and our parishes in order to fulfill our calling to bring those outside of the Church in to the household of the faith. Later in the afternoon the participants were able to preview a portion of a new documentary entitled "Truly Human" which explores why young adults are moving away from the Church.

While the adults were in session with Bishop Gregory and Fr. Anthony, Fr. Matthew Stagon and Sub-deacon Andrew Wythe spoke to the youth on the topic of A Day in the Footsteps of Saint Herman. In the morning session Fr. Matthew spoke to the youth about the life journey of Saint Herman on his becoming a monastic, his growth in the faith and his mission to Alaska. This focused on three points: his life of prayer, his love for God, and his service to the Aleut people. The session concluded with an exciting game of Saint Herman-ary which involved drawing and guessing scenes from the holy saints life.

In the afternoon, Sub-deacon Andrew engaged the youth with a fantastic presentation built on the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) which asked the young people to decide whether they were more like the Rich Man who served only himself or Saint Herman who desired to serve others with all his heart, soul, and mind. The afternoon session also included a walk around the property of the Saint Francis Center of Renewal where the young people were asked to view creation through the eyes of Saint Herman who lived peacefully among the creatures and vegetation on Spruce Island as if in Paradise. This gave everyone a good understanding of how far they really are from the peace of soul and mind enjoyed by the holy saint of God.

The session concluded with another round of Saint Herman-ary, and with the youth putting on a number of skits centered on events from the miraculous life of the holy Saint Herman. Everyone present learned something new about the Saint and were able to speak about what they learned and how they can apply their learning to their life as servant of God.

At the end of the day a question and answer session was led by Bishop Gregory and Fr. Anthony. The day concluded with the celebration of Great Vespers which was sung in the Kievan and Carpatho–Russian chant styles. This glorious and spiritually uplifting day ended with dinner at the retreat center.

View Video of Bishop Gregory's Keynote Address: youtu.be/-Sq8zc-hVYM

Posted photos show scenes from the day's events.
Faithful of the Diocese enjoy fellowship during breakfast.
Natalie Bilynsky, the coordinator of the retreat offered words of welcome and a reflection on the retreat theme.
Bishop Gregory offered the keynote address: "Engage The Call To Be A Disciple."
The faithful listened intently to Bishop Gregory.
His Grace reminded those in attendance that salvation must be our number one goal.
Fr. Matthew Stagon and Subdeacon Andrew Wythe led the youth in attendance in an interactive discussion on the theme "A Day in the Life of St. Herman"
During Lunch, Bishop Gregory visited with the youth in attendance.
Bishop Gregory with the youth.
Fr. Anthony Perkins gave an excellent presentation after lunch entitled: "The Pattern of Evangelism: Making Your Heart A Proper Temple and Your Temple A Proper Home.
Fr. Anthony's presentation.
Fr. Anthony described the Church as being a a Spiritual Hospital.
The participants were able to preview a portion of a new documentary entitled "Truly Human" which explores why young adults are moving away from the Church.
The retreat sessions concluded with a question and answer session.
Group photo of retreat participants.
The Bishop with his flock.
Fr. Anthony Perkins was the celebrant of Great Vespers.
Seminarians from St Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary very beautifully sang the responses to the first part of Vespers. The second half was sung congregationally in the Carpatho-Russian Plain Chant style.
Most of the retreat participants took part in the concluding Vespers Service.