Clergy Retreat, 2012, for the Eastern Archdiocese
The Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Eastern United States held its Annual Clergy Retreat on March 4-8, 2012, in St. Mary’s Villa Convent, Sloatsburg, New York. His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim presided over the Retreat, which was attended by the clergy from all the parishes of the Archdiocese. The theme of this year’s retreat was: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:1-2).
According to the retreat schedule, prepared beforehand by the Archdiocese, the clergy met with His Eminence at the Archdiocesan Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, on Monday evening, on March 4. The retreat was opened with the evening prayers, where His Eminence prayed for those priests who could not make it, and for the peace and tranquility of the Church. After a short message by the Archbishop, a Lenten dinner was prepared for the attendees, after which they all left for the convent, happy and singing praises to the Lord.
In addition to daily morning, noon and evening prayers, several bible studies were conducted by members of the clergy around the theme of the retreat taken from chapter four of the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. They also studied together this year’s Patriarchal Encyclical for lent qand listened to the final testimony and will of Mor Aphrem the Syriac. Very Rev.Raban Saliba Alkassis presented a paper on the Bima in the Syriac Church and Rev. Fr. Mattias Alan Shaltan talked about miracles in the Bible.
During the retreat the clergy received reports on several projects and programs of the Archdiocese. Sandy Ghattas, Sara Candan and Matthew Hadodo gave a detailed account of the progress concerning the new Sunday School Curriculum. Shamosho Gabriel Aydin gave a preview of the book he’s preparing about writing the musical notes for church liturgical hymns. Biniamin Malki and Julie Jabaly gave a brief account of the newly-established (International Christian Outreach) organization, which is a broader project of the Suryoyo Relief Fund. Deacon Dr. George Kiraz talked about the Clergy Continuing Education Program, and encouraged all the priests to join it. Also, he talked about the progress in printing the church services books of Baptism, Matrimony and Burial of the dead, in Syriac and English.
On Wednesday night a joint meeting of the Archdiocesan Clergy Council (ACC) and the Archdiocesan Executive Council (AEC) was held. Following the opening prayers and introduction by the Archbishop, Dr. Yamo Deniz, president of the AEC conducted the meeting which proved to be a valuable venue for interaction between members of both councils. Extensive time was spent on discussing plan and progress of the New Archdiocesan Center in Paramus, NJ.
Following the noon prayers on Thursday, the retreat was concluded with final words from His Eminence who asked members of the clergy to convey his prayers, blessings and best wishes to members of their parishes. He asked the Lord God to bless our Church throughout the world and to keep His Holiness, our Patriarch, Mor Zakka I Iwas, in His Divine care. He also asked God to bless the priests and their families, in order to continue serving their parishes with fervor and love.
In return, the clergy thanked His Eminence for his great fatherly care and love, and for his humble spirit and immediate concerns towards his children’s needs, and asked the Lord to keep him healthy for many years to come.