The Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma Held a Lenten Lock-In Retreat for its Youth

March 3-4, 2018 St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, Ohio of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma hosted an annual Lenten Lock-In Retreat for the eparchial youth. This year’s theme of spiritual renewal was “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong” taken from 1 Corinthians 16:13.


Over 40 youth, young adults, youth leaders, chaperones, clergy and consecrated person from the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma and beyond gathered together under the headship of its shepherd, Bishop Bohdan Danylo, at St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH for the annual “Lock-In” Youth Retreat with the theme “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong” taken from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (16:13). The retreat, planned by the Eparchial Youth Committee under the leadership of Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, pastor of St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH and Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH and coordinated by Deacon Myron Spak from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, PA was an opportunity for the eparchy’s young people to pray, reflect, meet others, and take time to focus on their spiritual journey to Pascha with a particular emphasis this year on apologetics, i.e. defense of the faith.

The retreat began with a service project at a branch of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH.  The society is an international Catholic voluntary organization, founded in 1833 by Blessed Frederic Ozanam in Paris (France) and named after St. Vincent de Paul – XVI-XVII century French Roman Catholic priest renowned for his service to the poor – with the aim of sanctification of its members by individual service to the needy. Ms. Jessica Robinson, the society’s Executive Administrator of Northeast Ohio District, together with Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak and Deacon Myron Spak, helped to coordinate the morning’s service project. The youth and adults ‘rolled up their sleeves’ and assisted the staff to prepare and serve breakfast on that day to the poor as well as to clean up the cafeteria afterwards.  The visit to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul proved to be a great opportunity for the youth to witness faith in action.

The theme of this year’s retreat was focused on apologetics, namely on knowledge, preparedness, and defense of the faith in today’s world. Fr. Bohdan Barytskyi, Administrator of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Parma, OH delivered an inspiring spiritual presentation encouraging the young people not be afraid to live out their faith in today’s days and age with a particular emphasis on the person of Patriarch Yosyf Slipyi, a great XX century Ukrainian Catholic Church’s leader, who for many years endured tremendous sufferings in the Soviet GULAGs before being freed in 1963 through the efforts of St. John XXIII and late U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Fr. Bohdan’s presentation was followed by an insightful and engaging Quiz Bowl, led by one of the Canadian guests to the retreat this year, Michael Hayes, a young layman from London, Ontario, who recently graduated from the Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Ottawa, who travelled to the United States with his wife Alessandra. The Quiz Bowl challenge provided a learning, insightful, fun, and engaging opportunity for the young people to test the knowledge of their faith.  A clergy “Question and Answer” session wrapped Saturday activities that was met with humor, candor, and catechetical lessons.

On Saturday evening – the eve of Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross – the youth participated in a moving Great Vespers, presided over by Bishop Bohdan Danylo and concelebrated by Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak and Deacon Tom Bury from St. Anne Church in Austintown, with the responses sung by the youth and led by Michael Hayes and Michael Spak (Deacon Myron Spak’s son). The youth were also given an opportunity to participate in the Mystery of Repentance. Fr. Tom Hrywna, pastor of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in Windsor, Ontario (Canada), provided a thorough Examination of Conscience, helping the retreatants focus and prepare for their confession.  Several clergymen were present and accessible for the Mystery of Repentance, including Bishop Bohdan Danylo, Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, Fr. Tom Hrywna, Fr. Bryan Eyman, pastor of St. Athanasius Byzantine Catholic Church in Indianapolis, IN, and Fr. David Misbrener, Pastor of St. Peter of the Fields Roman Catholic Church in Rootstown, OH.

A clergy “Question and Answer” session wrapped Saturday activities that was met with humor, candor, and catechetical lessons.

On Sunday morning, before the Divine Liturgy, Fr. Tom Hrywna delivered an inspiring key note talk in accordance with the theme of the retreat after which the youth participated in the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, presided over by Bishop Bohodan Danylo, and concelebrated by Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, Fr. Bryan Eyman, Fr. Tom Hrywna, Deacon Tom Bury, and Deacon Myron Spak. In addition to the retreat participants, the Liturgy was also attended by the parishioners of St. Anne and Holy Trinity Churches. Michael Hayes, Michael Spak, Michael Levy, Christina Hlutkowsky, Nick Hladio, et al. provided the responses. In his homily, Bishop Bohdan underlined the importance of the salvific meaning of being in the shadow of the Cross of Christ. Moreover, the hierarch stated that the entrance to the Paradise that used to be guarded by an angel with a fiery sword after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil has now been replaced by the cross of Christ; hence, it is only through the cross that a man can enter into the dwelling place of the Lord. Bishop Bohdan likewise thanked everyone, who planned, ran, and took part in the youth retreat.

Many helped to make the youth retreat a success. Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, Deacon Tom Bury, and the parishioners of St. Anne Church provided a warm welcome for all of the retreatants and volunteers. Deacon Myron Spak coordinated the event. Mike Senko and Joseph Chance, parishioners of St. Anne Church, helped to organize all of the meals for the retreat’s participants and the accommodations for some of the guests. Nick Spak (another son of Deacon Myron) served the Divine Liturgy together with Joseph and Michael Levy, who also provided audio/visual support during the retreat; moreover, the two brothers, together with Michael Spak and his mother Barbara Spak, also helped with the registrations. Several others provided assistance with event logistics.

The 2018 “Lock-In” Retreat was a wonderful, prayerful, and engaging event for our youth whereby everyone could feel the love of Christ as well as could share this Christian love with others. The next eparchial youth Lock-In Retreat is planned for March 23-24, 2019 at St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH.