The 6th Diocesan Teen Retreat Concluded

From 19-23 December, 2016, the Diocesan Teen Retreat was held on the Sunshine Coast in southeast Queensland, with the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion.

The organising committee, successively headed by Priest John Weir and Priest Andrew Smith, had selected the Sunshine Coast Recreation Centre as the place for just over 50 teens, travelling from near and far, to draw closer to God and develop connections that will last a lifetime. When planning, the successful balance of spiritual with social was maintained – the mornings had talks and discussions from invited guests, the afternoons had organised outdoor activities, while the evenings had enjoyable indoor activities and free time for socialising.

One of the joys of the Teen Retreat is the opportunity for the youth of our diocese to interact with not only clergy from around the diocese, but also our hierarchs. Metropolitan Jonah was able to travel from Eastern America in order to be with us – arriving at the Teen Retreat after serving for the patronal feastday of St Nicholas Cathedral, Brisbane – while Bishop George was able to be at the Teen Retreat from the second day.

On the first day we made our way to the Centre, reconnecting with old friends from previous retreats, with the opening moleben kicking off the Teen Retreat. Alecia and Kristina continued their excellent work from last year’s Teen Retreat, again running the Icebreakers on Monday, the Trivia Night on Tuesday, and the Talent Quest on the Wednesday.

The talks that were heard at the 2016 Teen Retreat included:

· ‘Foundations of Orthodoxy’ from Priest Andrew Smith (Brisbane), who gave an introduction to Orthodox Christianity in the context of explaining Orthodoxy to curious friends;

· ‘Seize the Day: It is later than you think’ from Archpriest Gabriel Makarov (Brisbane), encouraging the teens to take every opportunity that presents itself in order to serve God;

· ‘Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy’ from Priest Alexander Borodin (Brisbane), who spoke on Orthodox Christianity in comparison and contrast with Catholicism and Protestantism;

· ‘Confession’ from Metropolitan Jonah, encouraging our teens to prepare for Confession – and how to do so – as well as the importance of our purity before God.

· We also had two discussion groups, with one led by Metropolitan Jonah and the other led by Fr Gabriel & Matushka Irene Makarov, speaking on maintaining and excelling one’s purity & chastity, and the importance of this within the Christian life.

Throughout the Teen Retreat, there was a question box, which received many exceptional questions – ethics, theology, social issues, and more. On the fourth day, many of these questions were answered by a panel that included all of the aforementioned clergy, as well as Priest Simon Nekipelov (Sydney) and Protodeacon Alexander Abramoff (Melbourne).

These all built to the pinnacle of our Teen Retreat. On the Thursday night, the prayers before Communion were read, and then Matins was served, with Confession being available during both of these services.

On the final morning, Metropolitan Jonah and Bp George celebrated the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, concelebrated by Fr Alexander, Fr Andrew and Protodeacon Alexander. We were overjoyed to see that over half of the attendees of the Teen Retreat received Communion on this day. The Liturgy was followed by brunch, with the attendees having time to say goodbye before returning home – all over until next year.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make the Teen Retreat so special: the organising committee (including Alecia, Anna, Kristina, Marina, Rita and Vanya), our aforementioned guest speakers & visiting clergy, and – of course – our teens. We look forward to next year!

Priest Andrew Smith