NEWS AND EVENTS - Saturday, August 11, 2018
COLLEGE STUDENT RETREAT - AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!
By the grace of God and the protection of His Most-Holy Mother and with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Longin and the efforts of the Youth Department of the Diocese of New Gracanica and Midwestern America, as well as the constant support of the KSS, the second annual college student retreat was a tremendous success.
The following are some of the things participants mentioned in our wrap-up session:
“It helped me reestablish myself in faith."
"It brought me closer to orthodoxy."
"I am again proud of being Serbian.”
“It feels so good to be around people my age who are like-minded."
"I learned so much about my faith and life in general."
"I now see marriage in a new light."
"The food and care was amazing."
"I now understand why Kosovo is so important to us."
> "Praying here with everyone was something I really needed."
"It was an absolute pleasure to be here. It really helped me get prepared spiritually and emotionally for medical school."
We were so blessed to have dedicated clergy and laity working together in creating an almost perfect atmosphere for such a retreat.
Generally speaking we are so blessed to have in a radius of a few miles, the oldest and the newest Serbian Monasteries, which possess all the holiness, as well as spiritual, physical and emotional comfort one could ask for.
At the St. Sava Monastery, we were able to venerate the relics of Saint Mardarije; at New Gracanica Monastery, we were able to receive a blessing from the replica of the Three-Handed Icon of the Mother of God - Trojerucica.
At both places, we experienced a great comfort in nature and the best picnic grounds.
The program was such, that time passed by quickly but you had a feeling like you were there for a couple of weeks. It was intense with many presentations which were most of all discussions with all the participants engaged. We are very grateful to our guest speaker, Abbot Gerasim, but also to our own Fr. Serafim, Fr. Mile Subotic, Fr. Nikola Radovancevic, Fr. Nikolaj Kostur and Dragan Arsic.
The book club was also popular and relaxing while at the same time taught us about relationships, true love, pain of life, as well as its great joy. (Please read the book: “Cancer, my Love.”)
We were visited by and had an amazing discussion with Abbess Makrina of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God Monastery, New Carlisle, Indiana. The nuns also brought many unfinished icons they needed help with, and in return taught us how to make prayer ropes, icons and decorative candles, all of which was taken back to the Monastery to help and support their bookstore.
We also had an unexpected guest speaker from one of the Monasteries in Kosovo, who talked to us about our holy land and the suffering of our people, as well as what we can do about it here and now. It was so important to hear, and especially to hear it from Fr. Andrej of Decani, who experiences this daily. Following the presentation, all the students joined in and collected over $600 to send back with him to help those in need.
The most amazing time we ended up spending was at the monastery lake after the liturgy on Sunday, where we first had light discussion and physical rest. The kayak relay ended up being a very popular event. Everyone participated in one way or another, and the weather could not have been more perfect.
We all gave thanks to God on the last day and could not but recognize (while we were having the wrap-up session) that even though just a half an hour earlier we were having the most delicious breakfast, our mothers and sisters in the kitchen were already preparing more food for us to delight in….
This was our second annual college student retreat, which is always scheduled for August 3-6. This year we had 30% more Students (32 in number) than last year, but decided to limit the participation so that the close, family-feel is never lost.
All are looking forward to next year.
-Youth Department of the Diocese of New Gracanica and Midwestern America