(ugcc.org.ua) - From Monday, September 18 through Thursday, September 21, the priests and deacons of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia gathered with Archbishop Stefan Soroka, Bishop John Bura and Bishop Andriy Rabiy at the San Alfonso Retreat House here for their annual spiritual retreat. The retreat director was Rt. Rev. Mitred Msgr. Martin Canavan, a priest incardinated in the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, who presently is spiritual director at St. Basil’s Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut. Msgr. Canavan, a priest vocation from the first Ukrainian Catholic church in the United States, St. Michael’s parish in Shenandoah, Pa., for many years was incardinated in and served the faithful of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

During the retreat, Msgr. Canavan offered reflections for spiritual renewal with inspirational conferences based upon Scriptural passages from the Old and New Testaments, emphasizing the beauty of the entire creation of Almighty God. He stressed how each individual is a unique creation of God.

The clergy participated in daily liturgical services, including matins, vespers and the Divine Liturgy. Bishop John Bura, Bishop Andriy Rabiy and Archbishop Stefan Soroka were the main celebrants during the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Divine Liturgies respectively.

On Thursday, as is tradition, a panakhyda for all the deceased hierarchs and clergy of the Philadelphia Archeparchy was sung following the Divine Liturgy.

After the panakhyda, Father Robert Hitchens, on behalf of the clergy, thanked Msgr. Canavan for serving as the retreat director and the clergy expressed their gratitude to him with the traditional singing of “God Grant Him Many Years.”

Metropolitan Stefan also expressed his gratitude to Msgr. Canavan and also to all the clergy for their wonderful participation throughout the week and particularly to Father Robert Hitchens and Father Wasyl Kharuk, for coordinating the retreat and for their preparation of all the texts for the liturgical services. He also thanked Father Walter Pasicznyk and Father Roman Sverdan, who served as sacristans during the liturgical services.

Often as priests absent themselves from their parishes for this time of spiritual renewal, well-intentioned parishioners may say “Enjoy your vacation” or upon return inquire “How was your vacation?’

However, a retreat is not a vacation, but a necessary and even obligatory requirement for clergy to withdraw from the daily routine of normal parish life for a time of prayer, reflection and spiritual renewal.

This concept of withdrawal for spiritual renewal can be found in the life of Jesus Christ, where the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke relate how Jesus, after his baptism by John, withdrew into the desert and fasted for forty days and nights.

In the 1520’s, St. Ignatius of Loyola developed his Spiritual Exercises. These spiritual exercises greatly influenced the development of retreats, especially for clergy, as a way of deepening their spiritual relationship with God.

Rev. John M. Fields, Director of Communications


Teachings of Christ

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)


Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, * and the revelation of an eternal mystery: * The Son of God becomes the Son of a Virgin, * and Gabriel announces the good news of grace. * Therefore, let us also cry with him to the Mother of God: * "Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (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.

To you, O Mother of God, our leader and defender, * we, your servants, delivered from calamity, offer hymns of victory and thanksgiving. * So you, who have invincible might, * set us free from every peril * that we may cry to you: * "Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!" (Kontakion, Tone 8)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were formed, who we are, and with what nature we came into the world, and how He Who formed and created us brought us into His world from the darkness of a grave, and prepared his benefits for us before we were born. Since, therefore, we have everything from Him, we ought in everything to give Him thanks, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Clement of Rome