- March 18-19, 2017 St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, Ohio (USA) 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 “To die for Christ means to live forever.”

UGCC Parma Retreat 2017

Over 60 youth, young adults, youth leaders, chaperones, clergy and consecrated persons 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 on March 18-19, 2017 for the annual “Lock-In” Youth Retreat with the theme “To die for Christ means to live forever.” 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.

The retreat began with a service project at Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley in Youngstown, OH.  The mission is a faith-based emergency shelter that provides food, counseling, support services, and Christ-centered outreach for disadvantaged men, women and children regardless of background. Jim Echement, the Mission’s Executive Director, welcomed the group, explained mission statement, and provided a tour of the facility.  The youth were able to meet-and-greet many of the residents, learn more about the mission’s adult-education program offerings, and were exposed to a real-life example of ‘diakonia’ – service to one’s neighbor – the overarching theme that the Ukrainian Catholic Church chose for the year 2017. The youth and adults ‘rolled up their sleeves’ and assisted in cleaning the cafeteria and helped the staff prepare lunch on that day for the residents of the mission.  The visit to the Rescue Mission proved to be a great opportunity for the youth to witness faith in action.

The theme of the retreat was focused on martyrdom – specifically the New Martyrs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church beatified by Saint John Paul II in June 2001.  Sister Ann Laszok OSBM, Sister Teodora Kopyn OSBM, and Sister Olha Mykhalyuk, OSBM provided insightful multimedia presentations on the lives of three of the specific Ukrainian martyrs, namely Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky, Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky, and Blessed Theodore Romzha.  Prior to the presentation, the youth processed with the icons of the martyrs and displayed them reverentially in the church.  The youth learned more about the witnesses and sacrifices of these and other martyrs in an engaging discussion led by Subdeacon Bryan Scotton and Seminarian Timothy Fariss from the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, PA.  The youth were encouraged by the seminarians to connect with the individual stories of the martyrs – identifying examples of exceptional faith in the face of persecution. Fr. Vsevelod Shevchuk, pastor of Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church in Akron, OH, eparchy’s Vocation Director and Assistant to the eparchy’s Chief Financial Officer provided personal testimonial of his journey to the priesthood in the context of the martyrs. A clergy “Question and Answer” session was also provided and 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, celebrated by Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak with the responses led by Lisa Hladio, member of the Eparchial Youth Committee. The youth were also given an opportunity to participate in the Mystery of Repentance. Fr. Michael Kulick, a visiting Ukrainian Catholic priest from Parma, OH, provided an Examination of Conscience, helping the retreatants focus and prepare for their confession.  Several priests from various parishes were present and accessible for the Mystery of Repentence, including Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, Fr. Michael Kulick, Fr. Bryan Eyman, pastor of St. Athanasius Byzantine Catholic Church in Indianapolis, IN, and Fr. Dennis Arambasic, OFM from the Shrine of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted in Youngstown, OH.

On Sunday morning, the youth participated in the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, presided over by Bishop Bohodan Danylo, and concelebrated by Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, Fr. Bryan Eyman, Deacon Myron Spak, Deacon Trevor Fernandes from St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church in Rossford, OH, and Deacon Gregory Loya of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Barberton, OH. In addition to the retreat participants, the Liturgy was also attended by the parishioners of St. Anne and Holy Trinity Churches as well as some visitors and staff from the Rescue Mission, who had an informative presentation prior to the Liturgy. Michael Spak, Christina Hlutkowsky, Nick Hladio, and Michael Levy provided the responses.  In his homily, Bishop Bohdan underlined the importance of serving one’s neighbors, especially the less fortunate ones, also accentuating the fact that it was Christ through His cross that saved mankind and not any human wishes. The hierarch likewise thanked all that planned, ran and took part in the youth retreat. Upon the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, everyone was welcomed to partake in the delicious luncheon in the adjacent parish hall that was prepared as an outreach project for the residents and staff of the Rescue Mission as part of the parish’s 50th anniversary celebrations this year.  

Many helped to make the 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, Diane Rogers, a parishioner of St. Anne Church, helped to organize all of the meals for the retreat’s participants, Nick Hladio served as Master of Ceremonies, Alex Lischak documented the event, Joseph and Michael Levy provided audio/visual support and, together with Michael Spak, helped with the registrations. Several others provided assistance with event logistics.

The 2017 “Lock-In” Retreat was a wonderful, prayerful, and engaging event for our youth.  We pray for God’s continual blessings on the youth and the volunteers of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, OH!  The next eparchial youth Lock-In Retreat is planned for March 3-4, 2018 at St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, OH.

Department of Information of the UGCC

Teachings of Christ

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7,8 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

"And the second commandment of the Teaching; 2. Thou shalt not commit murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not commit paederasty, thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not practise magic, thou shalt not practise witchcraft, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten."

Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume VII, Apostolic Teachings and Constitutions, Chapter II. - The Second Commandment: Gross Sin Forbidden.