Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma Held an Annual Lenten Youth Lock-In Retreat
On March 11-12, 2023, Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, Ohio of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma hosted an annual Lenten Lock-In Retreat for youth. This year’s theme of the spiritual renewal was “Our Lord’s Gift to Us: His Very Self” taken from “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” as found in John 15:13 (NRSVCE).
Over 40 youth, young adults, youth leaders, chaperones, and clergy gathered for the annual youth Lock-In Retreat of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma under the leadership of its eparch, Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo at the Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH. The theme, based on the Gospel of John 15:13 (NRSVCE), was focused on “Our Lord’s Gift to Us: His Very Self.” The retreat, planned by the Eparchial Youth Committee (EYC) under the direction of Fr. Lubomir Zhybak, Director of the EYC and pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH and St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH and coordinated by Deacon Myron Spak from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie, PA provided an opportunity for the youth to pray, reflect, meet others, and take time to focus on their Lenten spiritual journey to Pascha. This year’s retreat was held for the first time at the Pokrova Parish in Parma – the new place for the annual retreat – after it was moved from St. Anne Parish in Austintown, OH where it was previously held for many years.
The retreat began with a service project. Under the supervision of Deacon Andriy Harmatiy from St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH who is also an EYC member, the youth prepared a warm breakfast (sausages, pancakes, waffles) and a full lunch (chicken, rice, and garden salad) in the Pokrova Church hall kitchen. The lunches were packaged and delivered to the West Side Catholic Center (Cleveland, OH) to be distributed among the poor of the inner city.
The keynote presentation (divided into 2 sessions) was delivered by Mr. Sean McLaughlin, Safe Environment Coordinator and Development Director at the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. The theme of the presentations, “Our Lord’s Gift to Us: His Very Self”, resonated with the youth, especially in the context of the world in which the sovereignty of Ukraine – a native land of some of the attending retreatants that is currently threatened by the Russian aggression; those present at the retreat were asked to keep especially in their prayers all those suffering in Ukraine. Some of the questions that Mr. McLaughlin reflected over with the retreatants during his presentation were: “What is love?” “What does it mean to love someone?” “What does Jesus’ gift of Himself make possible?” “How does God ask us to respond to His love?” “Where do we see God’s love at work in the world?”
In between the two sessions of the keynote presentation, the retreatants participated in a fun and engaging game called “Escape Room,” supervised and coordinated by the youth leaders and chaperones. Following the 2nd session of the presentation, the youth participated in a Vespers service, presided over by Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo and assisted by Deacon Biagio Oriti from St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH. The responses, led by Mr. Michael Spak, an EYC member and a parishioner of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, PA, were sung by the youth.
The youth also had an opportunity to participate in the Mystery of Repentance. Mr. Sean McLaughlin assisted the retreatants in focusing and preparing their hearts for confession with an examination of conscience in which he focused on replacing vices with virtues.
After confessions, a clergy “Question and Answer” session was provided. Fr. Lubomir Zhybak, Deacon Myron Spak, Deacon Andriy Harmatiy, and Mr. Sean McLaughlin tackled some questions submitted by the youth and the discussion was met with humor, candor, and catechetical lessons. The session provided an educational, fun, and engaging opportunity for the youth to ask questions to deepen the understating and knowledge of their faith.
Many helped to make the youth retreat a wonderful, joyful, and uplifting experience. Besides Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo who led the retreat, special thanks go to Fr. Lubomir Zhybak, Deacon Myron Spak who coordinated the retreat as well as his wife Barbara, Fr. Mykhaylo Drozdovskyy, pastor of the Pokrova Church, and his parishioners, Deacon Andriy Harmatiy, Mr. Sean McLaughlin for being the main speaker, Mr. Michael Levy, an EYC member and a parishioner St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH, Mr. Joseph Levy, an EYC member and a parishioner of St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH, Ms. Olena Korendii, an EYC member and a parishioner of the Pokrova Church, Deacon Biagio Oriti and his wife Anna from St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH, Mr. Michael Spak and his fiancée Ms. Belinda Flores, parishioners of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, PA, and Mr. Zarek Headrick who currently attends St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Parma, OH for all of their help with the retreat.
The 2023 youth Lock-In Retreat was a wonderful, prayerful, and engaging event whereby everyone present experienced the love of the Lord and were able to share this Christian love with one another. The next eparchial youth Lock-In Retreat is planned for March 2-3, 2024 at the Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH.
Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma