BURBANK, IL [DOM Communications] – From October 25-27, six Diocesan priests participated in a pilot retreat for Clergy Formation and Development organized by Diocesan Chancellor, Archpriest Paul Jannakos. This is a new initiative of the Diocese developed as part of the strategic plan adopted by the Diocesan Council in 2020.
The retreat took place at Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction, MI and included representatives of the Chicago, Michigan, and Cleveland Deaneries. The goal of the retreat (and those which, God willing, will follow in its wake), was to rejuvenate the clergy through participating in extended communal prayer, forging deeper relationships with their fellow priests, and reflecting thoughtfully together on the task and meaning of the priesthood. This aligns broadly with the Formation and Development goals of encouraging clergy to form mentoring relationships, to grow in their mastery of pastoral skills, and to satisfy the OCA’s requirement for continuing education in a way that they find meaningful and worthwhile.
Participants in the retreat attended the daily services of the monastery, including Vigil and Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Holy Greatmartyr Demetrius. They shared fellowship over meals and freetime discussions, worked together in the monastery garden, and enjoyed an evening excursion to a local winery. They also read and held a seminar discussion on selections from St. John Chrysostom’s book On the Priesthood, which touched on many practical aspects of ministry.
On the final day, His Eminence Archbishop Paul, along with members of the Diocesan Council assigned to the Clergy Formation and Development task force, joined participants via Zoom for a discussion of the merits of the retreat as a model for continuing formation and development of Diocesan clergy. The participants were unanimous in their enthusiasm and gratitude for the retreat and shared ideas both for improving upon the experience and for replicating it in other locations throughout the Diocese.
It was decided that the next step will be to identify two or three other suitable retreat locations in other parts of the Diocese and organize pilots at each with different groups of clergy sometime after Pascha 2022.