October 20, 2008
Youth Retreat 2008
With a backdrop of ancient towering
redwoods, Mt Cross youth camp in Felton is a living example of the
Creator's handiwork - a most appropriate site for the 2008 Northern
California Youth Retreat. The retreat was held on October 11th and
12th and with 80 young Assyrian and Chaldean youth in attendance,
the event was a blessing to all.
Young people from St Mary's combined parish in San Jose, St Thomas
in Turlock, St Matthew in Ceres and even Mother of Perpetual Help
mission in Sacramento attended the retreat. But the long distance
award goes to a few devout attendees from far away Phoenix Arizona!
The retreat took as its theme, "Essence and Illumination - Being
Salt and Light." Attendees were treated to an inspirational lecture
by Father Andrew Younan from San Diego. Fr Andy, as he is fondly
known, spoke on the practical implications of being salt in this
world as Jesus described his followers would be. He later took
questions that led to a discussion of the sacraments as a means for
strengthening the believer for the work of being salt in the world.
Questions included some about confession and absolution, with the
added blessing of Fr Andy making time after the lectures to hear
confessions and the youth responded overwhelmingly, with many making
their first confessions at this retreat.
Father Dimitri Grekoff from St Barnabas Parish in Sacramento
followed Fr Andy speaking on being Light to this darkened world. Fr
Dimitri encouraged the youth to be "Light" in areas such as
promoting the dignity of the person, fostering respect for life and
witnessing against abortion, upholding marriage and family life and
the evangelization of the world around them, such as their families,
school and work - wherever they find themselves. Quoting loosely
from Pope John Paul he said, "a particular place falls to the lay
faithful" to carry out this work of being salt and light. He used
many examples and also fielded questions.
On Sunday morning the Holy Offering was celebrated by Fr Dimitri
with the aid of Shamasha Ninev Nissan and sub-deacon Anthony Garia.
His homily focused on the Gospel reading for the day and he
reflected on the contrast of the hemorrhaging woman who was healed
by touching Jesus' hem secretly and our open witness to the world of
Christ's transforming power. The inspiring vocals of Arbella Rasho
singing in both English and Assyrian blessed all present.
Commendations and thanks for a well organized retreat go to Arbella
Rasho from St Matthew Parish and Mel Barota from St Mary Parish. All
the "behind the scenes" planning, location selection, equipment
gathering and scheduling were their responsibility and they
performed their jobs well. Not to be overlooked is the "glue" that
held it all together in the person of Anthony Garia. No wonder the
youth were energized and enthusiastic as they voiced their desire
for another retreat. God willing, there'll be many more!