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From December 24-26, 2014, about thirty youth, clergy, and parents gathered at Saint
Nicholas Convent for the annual Saint Herman’s Day Youth Retreat. Over three days,
they conducted services, participated in organized discussions on spiritual topics, and
enjoyed a fellowship of faith.
On Wednesday, all attended two talks: the first on styles of
Orthodox chants in Eastern and Western rites, by monk Lazarus of
the Elevation of the Cross Monastery in
Welland, Ontario, Canada; the second on
the Sacrament of Confession, by priest
Daniel Meschter from Saint Innocent
parish in Pottstown, PA. Father Lazarus
led his listeners in a rendition of Aramaic
chant, while Father Daniel exhorted them
to apply the lessons of his talk in
Confession after the evening’s service.
After a delicious meal, everyone attended a vigil service to Saint
Herman at which the youth sang melodically.

On Thursday, all participated in the St Herman’s Day liturgy and many communed of the
Divine Gifts.
Then after lunch, the conference attendees listened to a presentation by priest Thomas
Marrretta from Saint Maximos parish in Owego, NY on the practice of the Jesus Prayer.

He impressed on all present the depth of the prayer, along with its relevance to daily
spiritual life; everyone left the talk edified.

Following Fr Thomas’ talk a number of participants joined St Maximos parishioner
Christa Gabriel and began to learn how to make their own prayer rope.

That evening after dinner, priest Nicholas Chernjavsky of Holy Ascension parish in
Rochester, NY engaged the youth around a blazing bonfire,

answering their questions about living an Orthodox life in today’s trying times.
On Friday after breakfast, all came to the last talk of the conference, which comprised a
discussion of Islam and its relation to Christianity. Daniel Meschter (son of Father Daniel)
presented a brief introduction on Islamic religious tradition and led a subsequent
discussion on Muslim sects and extremists.
Afterwards, the conference dispersed and all returned home, giving thanks to God for
another year and another wonderful, spiritual retreat.

(many thanks to Daniel Meschter for this report and Nikolai Vandalov for photos)