August 20-23, 2008
By Paul Abernathy
For many Orthodox seminarians, preparing for another year of seminary is a time of great joy and nervousness. We look forward to concentrating intensely on Christ, yet recognize the spiritual struggle this growth entails. For seminarians of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, the time immediately preceding seminary is also a time we spend together in fellowship and learning.
With the blessing of our father, Metropolitan PHILIP, who has shown himself to care for his seminarians as his own sons, all Antiochian seminarians gathered together for a three day retreat at the Antiochian Village. The theme this year, missions, reminded us that Christ commanded us to go out and make disciples of “all nations.” We received words of wisdom and experience from His Grace Bishop THOMAS, our facilitators, Fr. John Abdalah and Fr. Fred Pfeil, and other session leaders, Fr. Ted Pulcini and Fr. Jason DelVitto.
Our retreat began Wednesday night with Vespers and a welcoming, reassuring message from His Grace Bishop THOMAS. That night, Fr. John and Fr. Fred facilitated an introduction period that provided each of us with the opportunity to see the remarkable men that God has called and the extraordinary circumstances that led each of them there. As each seminarian introduced himself, it was astounding to hear the incredible life experiences that led each one to Christ. Perhaps even more astonishing was the witness many gave of the cross they bore for Christ’s sake, only to receive the tremendous blessings that came along with it. That night, the work of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Orthodox Church here in this land could be clearly seen.