Under the patronage of His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios, the youth from Victoria travelled to Grantville Lodge, accompanied by some fellow parishioners and clergymen from NSW and QLD, for their annual ACOY retreat.

Led by the ACOY Victoria Committee under the guidance of Fr. Jean Mawal, the youth gathered for a two-night spiritual get away which resulted in 60+ attendees taking part in a program of religious sessions and fun activities.

The theme for the retreat was “The Earthly Heaven”, encompassing the synergy between the heavenly and earthly realms within our liturgical life and worship. The weekend contained four spiritual workshop sessions, a group discussion in conjunction with team bonding activities and of course church services.

The ACOY Victoria retreat was blessed again to have Fr. Dn. Theophan Nahas to present a talk titled “It is time for the Lord to act”, in relation to a prayer that the Deacon offers before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy. This presentation informed the participants on the role of timing in liturgical worship and explored the different types of time (Kronos vs Kairos), and their place in the Divine Liturgy.

Another session was presented by Dionysi Krinas, a dear friend from St. Panteleimon Church which is under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. This session explained the “Essential Signs, Symbols and Actions of the Divine Liturgy.” This captivating session informed the youth about the symbolic and underlying meanings of the common elements that they experience during a Divine Liturgy.

The last of the informative sessions was led by Fr. Jean Mawal and was titled “Let us love one another.” This session beautifully explored the Church of the Apostles and illustrated the necessity of love and community within our Church in order to serve and take part in the Divine Liturgy worthily.

As always, the youth of Victoria were blessed to have Kh. Rita Mawal to provide them with a chanting lesson. Psalm 94 was the chosen hymn that Kh. Rita patiently taught to all attendees, which was chanted in the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday morning during holy communion.

In addition to the spiritual sessions, ACOY Victoria successfully ran many fun activities throughout the weekend. This included an array of fun ice-breaker games on the first night, as well as an amazing race which required the assigned groups to complete certain challenges around the retreat site. Further to this, the attendees participated in Prosphora making in preparation for the Divine Liturgy. In free time, the youth spent their time socialising, allowing the group to form even stronger bonds as one church family.

With thanks to ACOY Victoria, Fr. Jean, Fr. Dn. Theophan, Fr. Dn. Athanasios, Kh. Rita and Dionysi, we thank God for another enlightening and successful youth retreat.