The Antiochian Archdiocese Church School held their first Nativity Retreat on Saturday 10 December at St Mary Dormition parish. There were approximately 120 students in attendance from Kindergarten to Year 12. The purpose of the retreat was to bring children from all parishes together for a day of learning about the Nativity of our Lord and Saint Nicholas.

From the onset of the day, there was a beautiful atmosphere with excitement obvious on the children’s faces. The day commenced with an assembly to welcome all students and to learn the Nativity chant. Soon after students split into groups.

The high school students spent the day researching the life of St Nicholas and prepared a scripted debate about the meaning of Christmas. They presented both to the Primary school students and teachers at the end of the Retreat. These presentations were insightful, full of humour and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience!

The primary school students were divided into seven groups and completed seven different activities in their groups to gain an understanding of the events of the Incarnation of Christ. The activities included reading the Nativity story in the bible, reconstructing the icon of the Nativity, playing a part in a play of the Nativity, jointly painting a mural of the Nativity, making a card for the homeless, ordering the life of St Nicholas and making St Nicholas’ bishop miter hat.

The generous ladies’ committee of St Mary Dormition parish prepared a healthy morning tea and lunch for the children. They served the children with such joy and zeal and made sure the children were kept full all day!

A highlight of the retreat was the opportunity for the students to spend some time with His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios in the church and to ask questions about the traditions of Christmas and the Nativity icon. His Eminence Basilios then toured the activity stations to see what the students were learning about our Lord Jesus’ Incarnation. There were 20 teachers in attendance at the Retreat and they worked tirelessly to ensure the students were safe, happy and engaging. An enormous thank you to the Retreat subcommittee for all their hard work to make this Retreat the best one yet! We look forward to the Nativity Retreat 2023