The day started off with registration and pitch-in luncheon. Following lunch there were three short but profound presentations on faith and science. At 5 PM we all went to Vespers at the St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville to be blessed by our first Bishop on this continent - St. Mardarije, who’s incorrupt relics are at the monastery. Surrounded by one of the oldest cemeteries in United States, we realized it needed some TLC, so we went around collecting 30 bags of trash. We were then invited for a pizza dinner at our bishop’s home across the street. We had the most amazing time with Bishop Longin, who spent over an hour answering questions after which he offered a great message to the young people, asking them never to forget who they are, where they come from and where they are going, while always making an effort to keep both their body and their soul clean and pure. After arriving back to the New Gracanica Monastery, we sat down in a circle playing guitar, singing songs, and recited poetry. The night continued on with a discussion of several controversial topics.
On Sunday morning some came to Matins and Confession. Others slept a little longer and were there for the Divine Liturgy. After the Divine liturgy we ate lunch at the hall by the lake and shortly after we were on our way to the Stokovic mansion for a presentation by our host, Mrs. Debby Stokovic, with a pool party afterwards. She talked about coming from a poor family, being blessed much now, and making an effort to use what God gave her to share with others. She also shared a personal story of encountering an unusual angel - something she first of all shared with her priest for his interpretation and confirmation. We went back to our base only to partake of a most delicious meal prepared by one of the participants, using ancient Serbian cookware. We ate dinner outside by the lake.
The day was crowned by two short but great presentations. One was on ministries of the church (KSS, Choir, Executive Board, Church School, Clergy...), and the other was about the "Operation Storm" (Oluja) which the suffering Serbian people endured many years ago on this very day. The night continued by continuing on our discussion of several controversial topics.
Monday morning the day started with morning prayers in the camp chapel, and continued on with a lesson on monasticism and married life. Following a delicious lunch, we had the now very famous and popular kayak race. Much fellowship and fun followed.
The final presentation was on the Divine Liturgy, and unanswered questions. The retreat was crowned by an Akathist service: "Glory to God for All Things", after which a short sermon/message was offered to all present by the Diocesan Youth Director and the Abbot of the Monastery.
Some came there for fun, others for emotional preparation before school begins, some to learn more about and be confirmed in their faith, and others to meet and/or be with people.
We believe, pray, and hope everyone received that which they came there for. Glory to God for all things, and thanks be to His most holy mother for her protection.
Diocese Youth Department