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DIOCESE OF CHICAGO AND DETROIT: November 30, 2006
A Youth Conference is Held at St Sergius of Radonezh Cathedral on the Feast Day of St John Chrysostom

In connection with the upcoming 1600th anniversary of the repose of St John Chrysostom, with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, the Diocese of Chicago and Detroit hosted a Youth Retreat during the weekend of St John's feast. This was an excellent way for the youth of the Diocese (and even other dioceses, as several participants from the East Coast came as well) to gather for fellowship. It was also a prime opportunity to prepare for this momentous approaching anniversary, important for the entire Universal Orthodox Church.

Friday evening, after the registration at St Sergius Cathedral in Parma, OH, a moleben was served by Fr Ilia Marzev, Dean of the Cathedral, and Fr Gregory Joyce, pastor of St Vladimir's in Ann Arbor, MI. A film about the life of St John was then viewed, followed by dinner, and plenty of time to relax and socialize in the hotel.

Bright and early the next morning, all assembled at the Cathedral for morning prayers. After a delicious blini breakfast, an address by the Administrator of the Chicago and Detroit Diocese, Bishop Peter of Cleveland to the participants was read:

Dear in the Lord Participants in the Conference!

I am happy to greet you.

St John Chrysostom is one of the greatest teachers of the Universal Church and emulator of God. He is the compiler of the Liturgy which is celebrated throughout the entire Orthodox world. As you all know, there is nothing in the world higher and holier than the Divine Liturgy. This is the sacrament of sacraments.

St John left 25 volumes of his writing and sermons which are incomparable due to the beauty of his speech. Those that desire to learn to preach in the Church should read and read again St. John.

The Holy Chrysostom was Archbishop of Constantinople. In this large and busy city there were other God-pleasers, but there were also many worldly temptations. To the righteous, to the lowly, and to the poor, Chrysostom was a true father. To those that lived for their own comfort he was a fearless critic of their misdeeds. For his boldness he was persecuted by the powerful of this world. The holy hierarch reposed in the Lord in exile with the words “Glory be to God for All Things.”

Next year is the 1600th anniversary of the blessed repose of this great hierarch. The goal of this retreat is to begin to prepare our flock for an appropriate celebration of this anniversary. May God help you! I wish you a fruitful and successful retreat!

+ Peter
Bishop of Cleveland
Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Detroit

Fr Gregory then began the lectures with a more in-depth look at the life of St John and how we can all benefit from his examples of Christian virtues. Fr Michael Carney, pastor of St Herman of Alaska Church in Lake Odessa, MI, spoke about the Liturgy of St John and the profound meanings it has for all of us. Fr Ilia lectured on the teachings of St John on marriage and the married life, always an interesting youth topic. The floor was then open to a round-table discussion, and a lively discussion ensued on timely issues our youth now face. All then gathered in church to listen to the prayer rule for Holy Communion, and had an opportunity to make their confession to several priests. A festive all-night vigil with a litia followed, with the choir of conference participants under the direction of reader AP Petrovsky singing in both English and Slavonic. After a light supper, all retired to the hotel once more.

At the Divine Liturgy the following morning, several of the participants took an active part in the service by reading and singing, and many more took part by receiving Holy Communion, which St John preached to partake of often. Following a banquet (which was in effect a second “Thanksgiving dinner!”), all gathered together once more in the Cathedral to give thanks to God for such a spiritually fruitful conference, which ended with the words of St John Chrysostom – “Glory be to God for all things.”

Reader Paul Drozdovsky

www.saintsergius.org