|His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela led the 2012 Archon Lenten Retreat held at the Ukrainian Consistory in Somerset, NJ.
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His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela led the ninth Archon Lenten Retreat on the theme "Homecoming"–a reflection on the scriptural narrative of the Prodigal Son. The retreat was held on March 30-31 at the Consistory (headquarters) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in Somerset, NJ.
His Grace addressed fifty participants at the two day retreat. Using as resources Rembrandt’s painting, Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen’s book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, and the Orthodox Faith and Tradition, His Grace Bishop Sevastianos elaborated on how the characters of the two sons, the younger and older, can be found in each person, and how we need to become like the Father. His Grace emphasized that what the younger and older sons were running from, was the love of God, and entering into the joy of their Father (the Lord).
It was further discussed that it is harder to accept forgiveness and love than to offer them. That we need to allow God to find us and love us, but also to share in the life of God–to be in communion with Him and sit at His table. Finally, that we need to adhere the Lord’s saying to be compassionate and merciful as our Father in Heaven is merciful, loving and forgiving others unconditionally.
|His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey and National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D., and retreat participants listen as Bishop Sevastianos discusses lessons from the parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son.|
Archon Peter Skeadas, Committee Chairman on Spirituality, was the retreat's organizer. Archons John Halecky, Jr. and James C. Fountas assisted in coordinating the event with the Ukrainian Center. In expressing the participants' thanks to Bishop Sevastianos, National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D. said, "Every year, we are blessed to have a speaker who deepens our understanding of our holy Orthodox Christian faith. His Grace eloquently and effectively referenced important teachings from the Prodigal Son that we should implement with the ultimate goal of becoming more Christ-like in our daily lives. His use of the Rembrandt painting was as innovative as it was captivating."
The weekend opened with a service of thanksgiving and welcoming remarks in the chapel offered by His Eminence Archbishop Antony of Ierapolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America. The following morning, Father Taras Chubenko celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Throughout the weekend, participants were blessed with the generous hospitality of the Ukrainian Center at the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (under the Ecumenical Patriarchate) in New Jersey. His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos graced the participants by His attendance during lunch and the final session of the retreat and also addressed the gathering with spiritual exhortations.