Youth gathered at St. John’s Skete in Hiram, Ohio from Friday, March 20 through Sunday, March 22 for the annual Great-Lenten Retreat. Held with the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Peter, the keynote speaker for the retreat was Hieromonk Nektarios, superior of the Skete. His talk, entitled “A Life of Blessedness: The Joys of Monastic Life,” recounted his personal spiritual journey from a Protestant missionary to far flung places in the Third World, to superior of a small monastic community near Cleveland, Ohio. He shared the joys of his current life, while noting ways in which laity can share similar experiences.
Young adults took time from college study or young careers to seek spiritual nourishment during the great fast. The retreat also included several opportunities for discussions, as well as volunteer work at the Skete and a walk around the monastery grounds. The fathers gave everyone a tour of the monastery, including their Church goods store which has recently started a new website: www.stjohnskete.com. Fr. Daniel Marshall and Fr. Leontiy Naidzions, both members of the Diocesan Youth Committee, joined the retreat as well.
“It was a wonderful retreat, very spiritually reinforcing,” noted one participant. “I really liked all its parts: services, discussions, walk exploring the grounds, work activity. Services in a monastery are especially powerful. I learned a lot from our discussions… The story of Fr. Nektarius was very interesting and impressive. It was so great that the retreat was in monastery, it was very quiet and peaceful.”
The Diocesan Youth Committee is particularly grateful to Fr. Nektarios and the other members of the Skete for hosting the retreat. Andrea Lasichak deserves special thanks for driving down from Ann Arbor to prepare wonderful meals through the course of the entire retreat.