Archpastoral Letter For Diocesan Altarboy Retreat 2009

June 4, 2009

To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Diocesan parishes, and beloved altar boys of our God-saved Diocese,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

"And He said to them: ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." Mark 6:31

Every year during the summer, after the long cold winter months, the spiritual experience of the Great Fast, and the glorious celebration of the Lord's Resurrection including the full period of the Pentecostarion, we are sometimes a little frazzled and worn out. And we need a little respite, a period of refreshment, relaxation, and regeneration. At this time, when public and private schools are not in session, families are taking vacations together, the weather is hot and hazy, and the sky is full of sunshine, we also need to pause for some spiritualrefreshment and nourishment.

At one time our Lord sent out the seventy apostles to preach His message, the Gospel, in towns and villages throughout the country. When they returned to Him, He saw that they needed some rest. It was then that He called them apart to a deserted place. But THEY DID NOT GO ALONE; they went WITH HIM. And when we take our time of rest this summer, we all need to remember this. WE DO NOT GO ALONE! WE MUST NOT GO ALONE! We must always be aware that Christ needs to be invited along with us. For this reason, I call upon our altar boys, those who serve throughout the year at the Altar, the Holy Throne of God, also to come away for a rest, but a rest with the Lord. Leave behind the baseball and soccer games, the swimming pools, the amusement parks, the summer reading programs, the hanging out on the street corners, and other similar activities, which are all fine in themselves, to spend some "off" time with the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe it or not, you will still be participating in some of the same activities, but they will be even better, more enjoyable, and fulfilling, because you are doing them in the presence of and with the Master.

You will gather here again in Johnstown, the headquarters of our Diocese, where you will pray and study at our Christ the Saviour Seminary and Cathedral. Once again you will also have the opportunity to play and recreate at various sites in our local area. You will see some of your old friends that you made in years past and probably make some new ones as well. The priests who prepared the program previously, having been working diligently in finalizing this year's schedule of events and they are eagerly anticipating your arrival and participation. I myself look forward to welcoming you and spending some time with you as I
have in the past.

Praying that many more of you will join us this year and that you all will have a safe journey to this "desert place," I remainSincerely yours in Jesus Christ our Lord,

+Metropolitan Nicholas