The first of its kind, a weekend-long retreat tailored for the benefit and enjoyment of families and children, was held from Saturday, June 11 to Monday, June 13 and was a great success at the Antiochian Village, Goulburn NSW.
It did not take long before a room filled with the vibe of the unfamiliar, new parents and their children who were casually trying to shy away from one another, turned into a buzzing of deep and meaningful conversations, genuinely relatable humour and comforting realisations all founded on the basis of having like-minded people with shared experiences, shared values and shared faith.
Even the children were quick to find a friend despite differences in age – even an 8-month-old was reciprocally entertained by his new 3-year-old buddy as they were both in curious awe of each other for the entire weekend.
From the heart and tummy-warming home-cooked meals made with the true love of a grandmother to the hand kneading and baking of Prosphora (holy bread) to being filled by its blessing at Liturgy of Pentecost the very next day.
From the child-free focus on presentations by His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios and Father John that always struck a chord, to the deep discussions that followed after between mothers and fathers finding comfort and friendship in their exchanges.
From children equally learning about their spirituality together, roasting marshmallows at the bonfire and watching a movie passed their bedtimes, to asking to visit one another’s home because their friends will be missed after the last day comes to an end.
The thrice opportunity of quiet prayerful moments in the humble church in the morning, noon and night and the challenge of ringing the church bell was such a privilege.
It truly did feel like a village and it truly did feel like the Holy Spirit was at work the entire weekend at the Family Retreat!
It was definitely a special, great way to make close-knit and possibly life-long friendships.