Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Ukrainian Orthodox League Sponsors Their Annual Fall Retreat
On Saturday, November 14, Parishioners from Churches in Wilmington, DE, Dover, DE and Trenton, NJ gathered together at Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Wilmington, DE to participate in our UOL sponsored Fall Retreat. Thirty-five people came in anticipation of hearing our Spiritual Father and Shepherd, His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony, deliver the opening address.
At 10:00 AM, An Akathist for our Youth was celebrated by Metropolitan Antony and con-celebrated by Protopresbyter Emmanuel Pratsinakis, retired Greek Orthodox Patsor of St. Thomas Parish in Cherry Hill, NJ, Father James Dougherty, attached to St. Herman of Alaska Parish in Gradyville, PA, and Father Stephen Hutnick, Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul. Responses were led by Nancy Hlywiak, Choir Director and all the faithful. After the Akathist, His Eminence admonished the people present to continue to pray the Akathist Hymns, especially to the Holy Mother of God in this time of need throughout the world.
A “welcome” was given by our UOL President, Jean Roeth. She commended everyone for giving up a beautiful Saturday to spend time at the retreat. Father Stephen introduced the clergy present and we began.
The theme, “Enter to Worship – Exit to Serve” was chosen by His Eminence. He began by talking about his experiences as a young priest in Hammond, Indiana and how he saw a church with these same signs at the entrance and exit respectively to the parking lot. It was a theme that has inspired his priesthood and Episcopacy throughout his life.
Taking the topic: “Enter to Worship”, His Eminence discussed the proper attitude one needs to have in his/her relationship with our Creator. He spoke of sin and the fall and our redemption through Jesus Christ. All of this everyone understood – but the problem that continues is: what is our response towards salvation?
Our Metropolitan talked about our empty Parishes during the week. How many times there are services other than on Sundays and no one comes to pray. He spoke about our listening to God’s Word by reading the Holy Scriptures daily. And yet our Bibles are probably the greatest dust catchers in our homes as they are great for decoration but are rarely, if ever, opened to be read.
Metropolitan Antony spoke of the importance of properly preparing for the Divine Liturgy. We must be ready to receive the greatest gift that God has given us, His own Son. We must be ready to “approach with the fear of God and with faith” as we are called to the Mystical Banquet of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
His Eminence challenged the faithful to begin reading more and more books on the faith. There is so much out in print today that there is no excuse for any Orthodox Christian to be ignorant of their faith. One of the books he highly recommended was An Introduction to God: Encountering the Divine in Orthodox Christianity by Father Andrew Stephen Damick, who gave our Priest Retreat this past October.
Unfortunately, our second speaker, His Grace, Bishop Daniel, could not be with us for the retreat. With the critical illness of his grandfather, Volodymyr, he was called to Ukraine. We all remembered his grandfather in our prayers.
As has been the tradition of this retreat over the past ten years, after lunch a robust round of “Stump the Priests” was begun. This year it had to be modified to “Stump the Metropolitan and Priests”. Many questions were asked about the faith and our current affairs. On the panel were His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony, Father James Dougherty and Father Joel, Pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Upper Darby, PA.
After lunch and filling in for His Grace, Bishop Daniel, Father Stephen Hutnick, Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish gave the second topic “Exit to Serve”. He spoke of the importance of the “Liturgy after the Liturgy” of our calling as Christians to not only know our faith, but to practice it. Jesus told us that we must “love one another” and that by this, the world would know that we are His disciples. He spoke of the “Care Packages” that were made manifest during World War II and the fact that Christ had commissioned each and every one of us to be “care packages” to all those around us.
After a brief question and answer period, His Eminence celebrated the Travelers’ Blessing. All those who came forwarded were blessed and anointed for a safe journey home.
Special thanks are expressed to our Parish Ukrainian Orthodox League for sponsoring a day of spiritual learning and fellowship. There was plenty of food, a breakfast and lunch plus snacks for all who attended. Also special thanks for the speakers and all who attended the day. God willing, we shall all be together again next October for the Fall Retreat.