It was a great joy for the faithful of Saint Basil Orthodox Church in Watervliet NY and their Rector, Archpriest Peter Olsen, to host a Lenten Youth Retreat on Saturday, 14 March 2015. This annual regional event has been hosted for over 20 years and includes participation by local Orthodox parishes; in recent years it has been hosted by Saint Basil Greek Orthodox Church in Troy NY. This year the Lenten tradition returned to Saint Basil’s in Watervliet. Participating laity and clergy represented parishes in Troy, Albany, Ballston Lake and, of course, Watervliet NY.
Age appropriate activities for everyone from Pre-K through High School were prepared and led by area priests and church school teachers. Everyone, including parents, enjoyed a time of learning, fellowship and fun. Father Emmanuel Mantzouris (Rector, St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church, Troy NY) led a wonderful activity on “The Jesus Prayer” as participants strung their own prayer beads. Father Matthew Markewich (Rector, Christ the Savior Church, Ballston Lake NY) taught a lesson about the Liturgy’s service of preparation (Proskomedia). After making a list of those to be commemorated among the living and the departed, the children baked their own Prosphora breads to be offered the following day.
Opportunities for creativity were abundant as the children traveled from one activity to another. Cross sun-catchers and foam eggs were made, icons were mounted on wood, and holy water bottles were decorated. Kim Cuva led the kitchen crew in preparing a delicious Lenten meal for all to enjoy. “Our thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and talents,” said parishioner Marie Giokas, “to provide such an enriching day for all of us!”
The day concluded after Great Vespers for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Precious Cross.