Six boys ages 6-16 from the Western, Eastern and Midwestern Dioceses took part in the retreat.
The kids actively participated in monastery life, keeping as much as possible to a monastery schedule; attending daily services and completing obediences, such as working in the garden, cooking, cleaning, and even painting icons.
Every day they were instructed on the principles of the Orthodox faith by Priests Alexei Pjawka, Boris Henderson, or Victor Boldewskul. Archimandrite Luke, the abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery met and spoke with the group on several occasions.
One of the participants Mark Parfenov agreed to take part in the program only yielding to his mother’s persuasion. He received a mostly atheistic background in his native Russia, and began to attend church regularly in recent years. After the end of the program, however, he said that being in the monastery strengthened his faith.
Two other boys, Timothy Antchoutine and Andrew Mitchell who painted the icons are planning on coming back to the monastery for more instruction and practice.
On the whole, the boys as well as the brethren were happy with the program. Daily worship, companionship with like-minded peers and working at the monastery as a team brought the boys closer together.
According to the coordinator of the program, Ephraim Willmarth, the boys had “the freedom to be open about their faith, to freely express themselves without fear of intimidation or ridicule, to soak up good examples of Christian life, and to water their souls with the grace found in daily worship. We are all hoping that it will expand next year, so that many more young Orthodox boys will take the opportunity to be strengthened in their faith and make good friends.
We plan to keep the cost low so that it will be accessible to all who wish to participate. We especially thank The Fund for Assistance for their generous contribution to our program with which we were able to accomplish our goals.”
The Fund for Assistance is grateful to all who donated to the needs of out youth!