Last Saturday, the AYC in Punchbowl hosted a transformative day retreat titled “Fear Not… You are Mine.” St. Mary’s Mays Hill parish organised the retreat to empower youth leaders and active volunteers through a focused exploration of fear and personal development. With an intimate group of approximately 25 attendees, the retreat provided an advanced approach to leadership development.

The day began with a hearty breakfast, setting the stage for an enriching experience. Deacon Jason kicked off the day as the first speaker, sharing insightful thoughts on the concept of fear within the context of the Church. His ideas encouraged participants to embrace a healthy approach to fear.

The guest of honour, Metropolitan Basilios, delivered a captivating keynote speech, teaching attendees how to discern false prophets and prophecies. His address served as a guiding light, inspiring attendees to remain steadfast and unafraid amidst the uncertainties of life. Following the morning sessions, attendees enjoyed a scrumptious lunch, providing camaraderie and fellowship opportunities. Energised and motivated, the attendees then delved into engaging workshops designed to deepen their understanding of the lives of saints and prophets. One activity that stood out was a creative challenge, where the youth were tasked with crafting a Troparion – a hymn of praise – for a lesser-known saint or prophet. The resulting troparia were then joyfully chanted, showcasing the talent and devotion of the retreat participants.

As the day progressed, Fr. John Daher took the stage to deliver an impactful talk on the prophets of the Old Testament. Drawing from their wisdom, he guided attendees in applying these timeless lessons to their day-to-day lives. The retreat’s well-rounded program comprehensively explored fear, personal growth, and leadership. The retreat took place on a beautiful day, and outdoor activities and meals added a delightful touch to the overall experience. The serene surroundings and pleasant atmosphere enhanced the participants’ engagement and enjoyment. The retreat culminated in a sense of fulfilment and spiritual rejuvenation. Some youth even opted to extend their stay and attend vespers at St. Nicholas Punchbowl, further deepening their connection to their faith and the retreat’s teachings.

Overall, the “Fear Not… You are Mine” day retreat is a testament to St. Mary’s Mays Hill parish’s commitment to the holistic development of its youth. The retreat fostered personal growth, leadership skills, and a healthy perspective on fear through thoughtful discussions, inspiring speakers, interactive workshops, and a nurturing environment. It was a truly transformative and empowering experience for all who attended.