UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
UOL Retreat 2016 a Great Success!
On April 2, 2016 we were blessed that over seventy faithful gathered in Bethlehem, PA at the St. Francis Center for Renewal. For over a decade the Ukrainian Orthodox League has been sponsoring a Lenten Retreat in the Bethlehem area. This was one of the highest attended retreats with every seat full in our room.
This year the retreat was entitled “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1 The retreat focused on the challenges we all face throughout life, looking at the psychological stages of life. The retreat was divided into three life stages, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, and middle and late adulthood. Natalie Bilynsky, a licensed psychologist, provided an overview of the life stages and challenges faced within each stage. Father Anthony Perkins looked at each stage from an Orthodox perspective.
The day started with morning prayers and breakfast. Following breakfast the first life stage was reviewed and Natalie reviewed the importance of attachment in early life. Fr. Perkins eloquently spoke about the ways that children are connected to the Church.
The next stage reviewed by Natalie was adolescence and young adulthood. Natalie focused on identity development and the stages involved in defining identity. Fr. Perkins focused on the role of the Church and provided sobering statistics about the number of youth that fall away from the Church during this stage.
The questions raised during the discussions were clearly thought provoking because during lunch there was continued focus on these very relevant topics.
Following lunch, the group united for the review of the next phase of life, middle and late adulthood. Natalie reviewed the importance of having a life of generativity where one is giving to others. Father Perkins reviewed the ways that we are called to live as Orthodox Christians.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony joined the retreat participants for the afternoon session.
The highlight of the retreat was that Fr. Mark Leasure of the Taylor, PA parish of ACROD brought the myrrh-streaming Icon of the Kardiotissa for participants to venerate. All of the retreat participants gathered in the chapel at the retreat center. Fr. Mark took the Icon of the Kardiotissa out of the case and walked from pew to pew with drops of myrrh caught lovingly by each participant. It was awe inspiring. Fr. Mark then humbly, but with great passion, shared the history of the icon and the impact that the icon has had on so many lives. Fr. Mark explained that the icon has been streaming myrrh for over 4 years. He also stated that many individuals have gathered to venerate the icon and many have reported healings related to anointing.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony led a Moleben in gratitude to the Theotokos. Following the Moleben every participant venerated the icon and was anointed. The retreat participants walked the Icon of the Kardiotissa to the car and returned to the chapel for Vespers.
This glorious and spiritually uplifting day ended with dinner at the retreat center.