The faithful came in numbers to come pray and play at the 2012 Diocese of Ottawa Parish Life Conference on little Prince Edward Island in the far east of Canada. The comments from the survey say it all – when asked what they liked most about the Parish Life Conference, here is a small sample of what attendees had to say:
From St. Anthony in Halifax: “...the outdoor nature, lobster dinner was awesome and planning and organization were excellent...”
From St. Elias in Ottawa: “The homey feeling and the relaxed schedule....”
From St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Montreal: “The moment one steps onto PEI, everything changes: the air we breathe, the people, and food, less traffic. Even before arriving, the online registration was user friendly. I felt I was staying in a small hotel in Beirut and the close proximity of the church and other events made it all very pleasant and relaxing. As the Bishop said, we were always outside; and of course the pleasure of meeting Fr. Stephen and Kh. Tracey Allen and admiring their hard work and devotion. I doubt that there will be another conference of this kind except in Charlottetown, PEI.”
From St. George in New Hartford, NY (Utica): “It was a casual atmosphere and we spent greater amounts of time outdoors instead of being stuck in a convention center and hotel lobby. I also loved the fact that the hafli was on Friday night instead of Saturday.”
From St. Michael in Geneva, NY: “Everything was wonderful. The liturgies were sublime; the Arabic chanting was beautiful beyond words. The bible studies were well done, if thinly attended. The organisers would have been hard-pressed to have made anything better.”
From St. Nicholas in Montreal: “The best thing about the conference was the informality. I have sat in so many meetings and heard the same things over and over at this point in my "church life" you start to tune out after awhile. Also because it was a smaller conference you really had the chance to talk and connect with a lot of people. The tour was great and the lobster supper was great fun. Having the church services in a real church made it special also. I wish it would be a two minute walk to church all the time.”
The key features that were different at this year's Conference included a separation of hotel, meetings and church services. All church services were held in a real church located beside the hotel for the conference and across the street from the meeting space. There were also several off-site events: lobster supper on Friday evening, a ladies meeting combined with a tour, a teen nature walk/beach trip, and the clergy meal. The weather cooperated making the backyard barbeque by the hotel pool great fun and allowed the kids to play outdoor games on the expansive lawn between the church and hotel. The unique venues and location made for a one-of-a-kind, well attended and successful Parish Life Conference.