First ever Pan-orthodox clergy retreat in the West
In April of 2007, His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH invited His Eminence, Metropolitan GERASIMOS, His Grace, Bishop MAXIM and His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN for the First Ever Meeting of the Canonical Hierarchs on the West Coast. During that meeting, the Hierarchs had a vision of gathering the clergy from the different jurisdictions in a retreat to get to know each other and work toward bringing unity among the Orthodox Christians in the West.
During the week of December 1-3, 2009, that vision was realized when more than 100 priests and deacons from various jurisdictions gathered together with the Canonical Bishops in the West for the First Ever Pan-Orthodox Clergy Retreat in West at St. Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap, California.
The theme for the week was "The Parish Priest as a Spiritual Father," and the Hierarchs and Clergy listened to three excellent sessions by the Retreat Master, His Grace, Bishop ILIA of the Albanian Diocese of America. Having once been a married priest, His Grace shared with the clergy a unique perspective of one who has done the ministry both as a married priest and then as a celibate priest and bishop. His talks provided the clergy with many topics to discuss in their small groups which were each led by one of the hierarchs.
The clergy attended and served the services at the Holy Monastery of the Theotokos, Life-Giving Spring, just a short walk from the Ranch. On Tuesday evening, His Eminence, Metropolitan GERASIMOS presided over Vespers which was celebrated by a priest of the Greek Archdiocese and sung by the nuns of the Monastery. On Wednesday morning, His Grace, Bishop MAXIM, assisted by the Southern California Cathedral Deans, celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the hierarchs all celebrated a Trisagion Service for His Holiness, Patriarch PAVLE of thrice-blessed memory, who fell asleep in the Lord on November 15, 2009. On Wednesday evening, His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH presided over Vespers which was celebrated by a priest and sung by clergy from the Antiochian Archdiocese. On Thursday morning, His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN presided over Orthros which was celebrated by a priest and sung by clergy from the Orthodox Church in America.
During the closing remarks, many of the clergy expressed their appreciation to the hierarchs for their vision, leadership and for making this retreat possible. The clergy expressed their desire that this retreat not be a historical event because it happened only once, but that it be historic in that it will be the first of many such retreats!
Source: Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles and the West