The Seventh National Archon Lenten Retreat was led by the Rev. Fr. Mark Arey, Director of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Fr. Mark presented an in-depth history of the title 'Archon' and the specific Archon responsibilities associated with the various offikia making reference to the Ancient Greek, Byzantine and Christian roots of the title. The Forty Archons, their spouses, family members and guests who attended the retreat learned the etiology of their specific offikion, its ancient responsibilities in the Imperial or Patriarchal Court and its modern day application in service to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Fr. Mark inspired and captivated the individual Archons present with his frequent scholarly and lively references to Ancient Greece, the Old and New Testament, the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Imperial Court and the Ecumenical Patriarchate post 1453.
Archon James D. Speros, Spirituality Committee Chairman, organized the retreat. Archons John Halecky, Jr. and James C. Fountas coordinated the event with the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. In gratitude to Fr. Arey's lessons, Archon Halecky said, "Each year, we have gathered together to deepen our understanding of our rich and beautiful Orthodox faith and retreat from the world around us to strengthen our commitment to Christ. This year's retreat provided all in attendance with a deeper understanding of the historical significance of what it means to be an Archon and the importance of the Offikia we have been given. Fr. Arey did a marvelous job as our retreat master."
The day and a half retreat was recently held at the Consistory (headquarters) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in South Bound Brook, New Jersey. His Eminence Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey attended portions of the Retreat where they addressed the participants.
During the day-and-a-half period, participants attended services at the St. Andrew the First-Called Memorial Church where Archbishop Antony conducted the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy on Friday evening. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Saturday morning by Fr. Taras Chubenko. Throughout the retreat, the participants were offered the hospitality of the Ukrainian Center.