On April 1, 2017 we were blessed that one hundred and forty eight faithful gathered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 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. We were thrilled that over one hundred faithful from our Ukrainian Orthodox Church participated in the retreat. This was the highest attended retreat with extra seats needed in the chapel to accommodate our group.
This year our retreat was truly a Pan-Orthodox event with members from the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and The Orthodox Church in America. In addition, the UOL worked with ACRY and Fr. William George and Fr. William Bennett, clergy from the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese, led a program for children.
This year the retreat was entitled “Peace be with you all” and it focused on the Divine Liturgy. The day started with morning prayers and breakfast. The morning included direct instruction on the meaning of each element of the Divine Liturgy. We were blessed to have Fr. Anthony Perkins and Fr. Michael Danczak provide instruction about the Divine Liturgy.
Following lunch, the group was inspired by the words of Fr. Perkins as he focused on how we are called to live as Orthodox Christians. Later in the afternoon we had three groups. Fr. Taras Naumenko led the first group where participants learned the Tones from the Ukrainian tradition. Fr. Peter Paproski led the second group where participants learned the Tones from a Carpatho-Russian tradition. Our third group was for the Juniors and our Juniors participated in a Bible scavenger hunt where they looked for clues from the Bible and enjoyed the beautiful grounds at the retreat center to find the items.
We had two question and answer sessions. One was led by Fr. Anthony, Fr. Michael and Fr. Peter. A second question and answer session was held for our Juniors and Fr. Taras led that group. We joined together as one family for Vespers. This glorious and spiritually uplifting day ended with dinner at the retreat center.
Thank you to our speakers, Fr. Anthony Perkins, Fr. Michael Danczak, Fr. Taras Naumenko and Fr. Peter Paproski. Also, thank you to the clergy who led the program for children Fr. William George and Fr. William Bennett.