From Friday, March 30, through Sunday, April 1, college and graduate students from our parishes gathered at the diocesan retreat center, Vladimirovo. Some drove from as far as Fort Wayne, IN and Ann Arbor, MI, to attend the first Lenten Retreat for young adults in our diocese.
The retreat began on Friday evening with an Akathist to the Holy Virgin. Participating clergy were Fr. Serafim (Baltic), a hieromonk from New Gracanica Serbian Orthodox Monastery, and Fr. Tarasiy Maximtsev from Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Des Plaines. Following the Akathist, the participants became acquainted with each other during a bonfire on the retreat grounds. The students and clergy lodged in the Vladimirovo dacha, a newly-constructed six bedroom building which is available for gatherings and to diocesan/ORPR volunteers.
Early on Saturday, following morning prayers and breakfast, the participants were treated to a captivating lecture on the nature of conscience by the keynote speaker, Fr. Serafim. Several students later stated that Fr. Serafim's heartfelt devotion to the Orthodox faith, when coupled with his charismatic and approachable manner, were deeply inspiring.
After the lecture, Frs. Serafim and Tarasiy answered questions about living in the contemporary world as Orthodox Christians. The fathers gave valuable and stern advice about not allowing the warfare of this world to shake a faithful soul.
Lunch and dinner on Saturday were provided by Mrs. Vera Ignatiev, longtime member and leader of the diocesan youth camping organization ORPR, which gathers at Vladimirovo annually during the month of July.
In the afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to hike, tour the grounds and even join Fr. Tarasiy in fishing at Lost Lake. Discussions with the clergy continued in the afternoon, followed by Confession and preparation for Holy Communion. All-night Vigil was served by Frs. Serafim and Tarasiy in St. Vladimir's Church, located centrally on the grounds of Vladimirovo. Fellowship continued after the service during the evening meal.
On Sunday morning, the participants met for Divine Liturgy at the church. Fr. Tarasiy concelebrated with Fr. John Sykaluk, rector of St. Vladimir's parish, while the students sang the sacred music for the service. A festive meal was provided by the sisterhood of St. Vladimir's, and all of the participants were touched by the care and love that the small congregation has for its parish. The Lenten Retreat formally concluded after the festive meal.
The DCMA Youth Committee would like to thank everyone who contributed to making the Lenten Retreat a spiritually edifying success! We look forward to hosting more events for our youth and young adults at scenic Vladimirovo.