On Tuesday, March 25, the Southern Lenten Retreat commenced at Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, WV. Forty clergymen and matushkas attended the pastoral conference, organized by the Eastern American Diocese. The retreat began with the normal monastic morning services and a litiya for the departed. Praying alongside the monastery brethren were His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, and the monastery’s abbot: His Grace George, Bishop of Mayfield. The clergy served a moleben "Before the Beginning of Any Good Work."
Metropolitan Hilarion greeted those gathered with words of welcome. "It is a blessing and joy for us to gather all together here, in this place sanctified by the prayers and spiritual labors of the monastics," he said. "Great Lent is a time of repentance and spiritual renewal, and it is just as important for the clergy to confess, reconcile with God, and receive spiritual healing. Such meetings and interaction between brother clergy are particularly precious and vital for clerics from far-off and isolated parishes." Metropolitan Hilarion thanked Bishop George for providing the opportunity to gather for a pastoral conference within the monastery’s walls.
Bishop George spoke to participants about developments at the monastery and shared the brotherhood’s plans for the future, illustrating his talk with remarkable photographs.
The retreat’s guest speaker, Archimandrite Demetrios (Carellas; cleric of Nativity of the Mother of God Greek Convent in Saxonburg, PA), presented a thoughtful lecture on the theme of "Orthodox Spirituality: The Pharmacy of Healing for Wounded Souls." Fr. Demetrios called his audience’s attention to the widespread vices and spiritual illnesses infecting modern society, indicating the path of healing for those souls overtaken by such vices ‒ confession, repentance, following Christ, being in His Holy Church. In the lively discussion following his lecture, Archimandrite Demetrios answered many pointed questions: about bringing children into the Church, the role of the matushka in parish life, and same-sex marriage, all things faced by more and more Orthodox priests in the U.S. Particular attention was paid to the issue of preparation for Holy Communion, an issue recently being widely discussed in nations where Orthodoxy traditionally has a large following.
Eastern American Diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov spoke about life in the Diocese today, touching on its 98 parishes and monasteries, and on preparations for the 80th anniversary of the Diocese and the formation of the new Diocesan Center. In the second half of the day, Fr. Serge led a liturgics seminar for priests and deacons, while Matushka Lubov Lukianov led a master class for matushkas. Eight American matushkas learned how to bake lenten piroshki and pastries, which they served at dinner, and which received accolades from the Hierarchs and retreat participants.
The first day of the Lenten Retreat concluded with divine services in the monastery church.
Wayne, WV: Southern Lenten Retreat commences at Holy Cross Monastery - 03/25/14