UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX LEAGUE
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
UOL Retreat – “The Way of a Pilgrim…”
Submitted by Oleh Bilynsky
On April 20, 2013 UOL members and friends of the UOL gathered in Mt. Pocono to reflect on the text “The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way.” For ten years the UOL has been coordinating retreats along the east coast, typically in the Lehigh Valley. This year the retreat moved a little north to the Villa of Our Lady Retreat House in Mt. Pocono, PA.
The morning started early with the Akathist to the Birth-Giver of God served by Fr. Bazyl Zawierucha. Retreat participants enjoyed a quick breakfast and then the retreat speakers started for the day. Co-Chairperson for the retreat, Natalie Bilynsky, shared her personal pilgrimage with the pilgrim. Next Fr. Bazyl spoke about the Jesus Prayer and prayer of the heart. In his review of the journey of the pilgrim he also focused on the importance of having a spiritual father as a guide.
The group had some time to interact and was challenged with our traditional retreat games. This year the Hucul sisters were victorious and were able to identify who of the Holy Fathers said various quotes.
At the beginning of lunch candles that were lit from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were lit and the Holy Fire was passed to members of the retreat. Retreat participants enjoyed a lovely lunch.
In the afternoon, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony spoke about theosis and how the pilgrim in his pilgrimage became more “godlike.” He eloquently spoke about the teachings of Gregory Palamas and how we are all called to journey to become more “godlike.” He encouraged everyone to use these last weeks of lent to prepare for Pascha.
The afternoon was scheduled with a presentation about the UOC of USA trip to the Holy Land. As part of the presentation Fr. Bazyl explained each day of the pilgrimage explaining the amazing journey and outlining each of the sites seen. With over 200 slides the retreat participants were able to see the amazing churches throughout the holy land.
Following the slide presentation all joined for Vespers served by Fr. Vasyl Dovhan and Deacon Philip Harendza. The day closed with a Lenten dinner and time to enjoy fellowship between all of the retreat participants. This year over 60 people registered for the retreat and we had multiple chapters and parishes represented including: Allentown, Carteret, Johnson City, Maplewood, Monessen, Northampton, Philadelphia, Silver Spring, South Bound Brook, and Yardville. Plans are underway for Retreat 2014, be sure to join us next year for the retreat.