After an unpredictable and uncertain 2020, the Antiochian Christian Orthodox Youth (ACOY) committee, were extremely excited to hold the highly anticipated youth retreat, for 2021, with the theme of “Too Blessed, to be Stressed.”

The weekend allowed our faithful to discuss and learn about the spiritual and orthodox view and understanding of mental health and mental disorders, with the intention of providing the faithful with remedies and tools to combat such issues as anxiety and depression, in a chaotic world.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Basilios, our keynote speaker, provided the first talk, where he discussed the Patristic teachings of the Church Fathers and their assistance with managing mental health. His Eminence also delved into the origin of thoughts and how not every thought that crosses one’s mind is one that should grow into action or habit. His Eminence drew a comparison to what the church fathers prescribed as a remedy for anxiety and depression, such as mourning of our sins, remembrance of death, and how this can contrast to what modern day psychology teaches us today, in centralising the man and ego.

The second speaker for the weekend was George Daher, a long-standing ACOY member, currently studying Theology and mastering in pastoral care. George showed how our purpose for living changed following the fall and how suffering and worldly struggles became more prevalent as a result of this. George then went on to discuss how the sufferings form part of our temperance and journey towards the kingdom of heaven and that one can use them to attain salvation. As a group, the youth discussed various spiritual tools to combat negative thoughts and feelings such as the Jesus prayer, confession, and guidance of a spiritual father.

The retreat was incredibly enriching and empowered our youth members with the knowledge of mental wellbeing in the Church and the skills to be able to handle stress and anxiety from a spiritual perspective.

The weekend culminated with an uplifting Sunday hierarchical Liturgy presided by His Eminence, Metropolitan Basilios who gave the youth a strong message about the importance of humility in our Christian Life.

We pray that this retreat served as an opportunity for our youth to come closer to God and renew their spirits to go out and conquer the world, despite the many obstacles we may face +