News and Events - January 2013

NEWS AND EVENTS - Friday, January 4, 2013

Bringing the Youth of the New Gračanica Midwest Diocese Together

By Diana Dugger


South Bend, IN - Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; thanks be to the protection of Most Holy Theotokos;through the prayers of all the Saints; with theblessing of Bishop Longin, and by the hard work of the Diocesan Youth Department, the second Annual Winter Youth Retreat of the Serbian Orthodox Midwest Diocese was held at the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God (New Carlisle, Indiana)from Wednesday, December 26th through Sunday, December 30th, 2012. The theme of this year’s retreat was “Keeping it Real”. The Winter Retreat allowed youth from several Great Lake states to come together and deepen their understanding of our Orthodox faith while strengthening their relationships with like-minded peers.

The retreat began on Wednesday evening withregistration of and orientation for all participants.Participants then shared their first meal together, at which they were introduced to Abbes Mati Makrina (Zugic). Following this was a brief time of fellowship, which included “ice breakers” and free time. The day ended with retreaters participating in the Midnight office, and, in such a way asking the Mother of God to guide and protect all participants and staff during their time together. Retreaters then went to their rooms to settle in and prepare for the fun filled days ahead.

Over the course of the following days, participants attended a series of lectures and discussions. On Thursday, Fr. Serafim (Baltic) and Fr. Dragan Petrović (Director of Diocesan Youth Department)opened with a lecture regarding the question “Who is Man?” A second lecture, “Who is God?” was led by Dn. Marko Bojović. Friday’s lectures began withDn. Nikolaj Kostur, who spoke on the topic “Who is Christ?” Fr. Marko Matić followed with the topic “What is the Gospel?” In addition to these lectures ofa theological nature, Ms. Gordana Trbuhović(Project Coordinator for the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth or O. C. C. H. Y.) gave a presentation on substance abuse and awareness. Additionally, Ms. Mira Andjelković gave a presentation on the history and activities of theK.S.S. Fr. Sasa Nedić spoke on the theme “Why is it awesome to be Serbian Orthodox/Orthodox Christian?” Finally a series of discussions on confession, communion and Divine Liturgy were led by Fr. Serafim (Baltic) and Fr. Dragan Petrović in order to help prepare retreaters for the Sacrament of Confession that took place during Saturdayevening’s vigil.

Participants took part in a variety of recreational, fellowship and cultural activities during their time together. These activities included organized group activities and games, “Winter Olympics,” singing and chanting lessons, writing letters to teens in Kosovo (*see below), and traditional egg coloring (led by Bosa and Dragan Suljić). The traditional egg coloring activity (which uses a kistka, melted bee’s wax, and dye) was notsolely intended as a cultural experience. Rather, all participants were asked to take their decorated egg home and auction it off. Proceeds from the auctionswill be collected and sent to Kosovo along with the letters that the youth wrote. Following dinner on Friday evening, all participants gathered at one of the guest houses on the monastery grounds for “Poetry Night.” While enjoying hot coco,refreshments, and being warmed by a cozy fire, retreaters shared with one another poetry, expressions, and songs that were meaningful and significant to them. This included traditional and original works of both Serbian and American origin that spanned a whole range of emotions: contemplative, sorrowful, joyous, and humorous.

It would be remiss not to mention the services that participants experienced during their time at the retreat. The fullness of Orthodoxy was present as all retreaters participated by praying, as well as assisting the clergy and cantors. Each day included at least two types of services from our Holy Orthodox Tradition. These services included both morning and evening prayers, the reading of theHours, the Akathist “Glory to God for All Things”, and a vigil. The Saturday evening vigil, which was led bythe sisters of the monastery, was one of breathtaking magnificence that glorified Christ, our True God. Afterwards, many of the retreaters were in awe of the beauty of this service and expressed a desire for the service to continue (even though it was already 3.5 hours long!). Finally, the crown of our services, the Divine Liturgy, was celebrated onSunday morning. Glory be to God, all retreaters who were able partook of the Sacrament of Communion.At the end of Divine Liturgy, retreaters “tied” Mati Makrina and received gifts keeping with the tradition of “Mother’s Day.”

Thus, the second annual Youth Winter Retreat of the Midwest Diocese came to a successful close. The presence of Orthodoxy and fellowship throughout the retreat was not only consistently evident by the relationships and interactions of the youth, but also by the way the participants parted from one another as they made their ways back home to family and friends.

The participants, as well as the Diocesan Youth Department, would like to thank all the clergy,lecturers and volunteers, who shared of their own time and talent; Mother Abbes Makrina and the sisters of the Nativity of the Mother of God, who selflessly opened their home to us; the sisters and mothers (K.S.S) for their presence and support; the awesome counselors and helpers, who organized and led the fellowship activities; and all the staff who worked tirelessly to provide for the participants. Theywould like to thank City Fresh Market for donating all of the food for the retreat. They would also like to thank those who made specific financial donations to the Diocesan Youth Department. These donationswent directly to supporting the retreat. Finally, they would like to thank the parents and families of all participants for allowing the youth to be involved at the second Annual Winter Youth Retreat of the Serbian Orthodox Midwest Diocese.

We hope and pray that all high school aged youth will plan on being with us for the 2013 Winter Retreat from December 26th-30th!

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