The ACYO-WD Central Council successfully organized and completed their first in-person event, Senior Retreat, since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senior Retreat was held at Hye Camp from September 4 to 6, 2021 under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and led by V. Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian, M. Divinity.
The Senior Retreat Weekend was planned at Hye Camp with the purpose of disconnecting our youth from the world of technology and the physical world to allow the opportunity to grow a deepened connection to their spiritual self. The weekend titled “Spiritual Enlightenment,” was prepared with discussions aimed to allow the participants to reflect upon their own spiritual life. Fr. Oshagan led discussions with the following topics: “What does it mean to be an Armenian Christian in the modern world?,” “In hard times, how are we to be anchored in the faith, hope, and love of Christ?,” and lastly “How do we move from fear to freedom to turn our faith into action and ultimately become the hands of God?”
Senior Retreat 2021 was organized by the ACYO-WD Central Council, chaired by Victoria Amran along with her executive board members Andrew Hagopian, Nerces Der-Aprahamian, Ossanna Amran, Tamar Chavderian, Alen Ashikian and Kevin Kestekyan. The ACYO-WD Central Council made the safety of all participants and attendees their priority by following the guidelines set by the CDC and assuring everyone received a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entry. The weekend was off to a great start with a welcome message by His Eminence Hovnan Derderian, opening remarks by Fr. Oshagan, and announcements by Victoria.
Our Central Council arrived one day prior with our clergy to prepare for the activities of the weekend. Ossanna Amran and Andrew Hagopian competed in a game of Chopped, of which two individuals are given ingredients they aren’t aware of until they are in the kitchen. They had 1 hour and 30 minutes to cook a meal for all of Council and Fr. Oshagan. The ingredients were graciously chosen and taped in a box by our Vice Chairman’s mother, Rosy Hagopian. The rest of Central Council and Hayr Oshagan became the chopped judges. Concluding the Chopped episode with a tie, we all enjoyed a well-prepared dinner with pasta, coconuts, basil, meat, and tomato sauce.
Over 65 youth from our eighteen active parishes attended the Senior Retreat Weekend. Along with the discussions, the participants enjoyed a water fight, a morning hike and service, stargazing, a bonfire, and a dance party. One of the most memorable experiences of the weekend was our Divine Liturgy on Sunday conducted by Hayr Oshagan at night near the lake. Our youth participated in the Divine Liturgy by singing in the choir, serving as deacons, and following along as the congregation. The participants slept in cabins, ate the food our volunteers and central council prepared and enjoyed spending time in nature together. The youth had the opportunity to have an open dialogue with Fr. Oshagan throughout the weekend as a way to re-integrate confessions into the church culture.
The weekend came to an end with a closing discussion, prayer, and blessing by Hayr Oshagan at the lake with a group photo.
On behalf of the ACYO-WD Central Council, we are beyond appreciative of our volunteers and sponsors who made the weekend possible.
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The ACYO-WD Central Council will be posting Senior Retreat pictures and more information about our upcoming events on our website and social media forums. Take a moment to also explore our ACYO-WD app on the app store.