On the 6th of April, ACOY Victoria held it very first day retreat catering for high school kids. The day was a great success with attendees from all parishes coming together to further their spiritual growth. The retreat was held at the beautiful Greek Orthodox Monastery of Panagia Kamariani in Red Hill. The day was designed to be an introduction into why we fast, how to fast and the importance of fasting, especially during Great Lent, for our spiritual growth. Our guest speaker, Dennis Krinas, made the discussion informative yet entertaining and was well received by all.

The day began early in the morning. A bus was organised to pick up the teens from different parishes and we all made our way to the monastery together. Although it was a two-hour drive for some, lots of food was passed around and games were played which filled up the time pretty quickly. On arrival, we went into the church and heard the story of the icon ‘Panagia Kamariani’, the namesake of the monastery. The icon has had a long history in Australia and has been the source of many miracles and has even been deemed ‘wonder-working’. We were blessed to hear from the very enthusiastic Very Reverend Elefterios Tatsis. The service of the small Paraklesis was then held to start off the day in the right frame of mind.

Next, we began the discussions headed by Dennis Krinas. Within his talk, he explained the four major fasts of the Orthodox Church as well as the weekly fasts on Wednesday and Friday. He also showed the ‘forced’ fasting across the world demonstrating our abundance of food here in Australia. The teens, divided into groups, made a poster containing all the things they knew about fasting and what they had learnt. We also took a brief walk around the monastery grounds and everyone, young and old, had fun on the playground, especially on the swings. The posters were then presented to the group and each one detailed something different.  At the end of the day, a game of ‘Family Feud’ was played that had everyone involved.

Throughout the retreat, many new friendships were made which we hope will be maintained and grow further. The aim of the day was to heighten our teens’ spiritual knowledge and further prepare us all for the Resurrection of our Lord on Pascha.  What a success it was, and we look forward to many more day retreats for our teens in the future.