Youth Retreat – Winter 2011


The Youth of St. Behnam and St. Mark Syriac Orthodox Churches united again in their 2nd joint youth retreat to explore and talk about “Forgiveness”, based on the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ when He taught us to pray “….. and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This was the main theme of the retreat.

The retreat took place from Saturday the 19th to Monday the 21st of February, 2011 at the monastery of the Valley of the Mother of God of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Over 50 youth members from both Churches came together in Christ to attend this wonderful spiritual gathering, led by Father Jack Yakoub of St. Behnam and Father John Issak of St. Mark.


The retreat events started on the first day with ice breakers that made the youth mingle and get to know one another. Then the participants were split into groups in preparation for the workshop. In the workshop, each group were given a passage from the bible related to forgiveness and were asked to discuss it amongst themselves and then make a presentation in front of the rest of the youth. Fr. Jack and Fr. John used each presentation to teach the Youth a lesson about forgiveness. These lessons flowed into the first discussion, led by Father John, about the need and necessity of forgiving others, especially in light of the many tragedies that encounter Christians throughout the World, but particularly, in the Middle East. The discussion was followed by evening prayer.

After dinner that evening, the Youth settled down to watch a movie together, entitled “The Ultimate Gift”. The movie imparted a very positive message about what the most important things in life are.
The second day started with a celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the beautiful monastery church. The congregations of St. Behnam and St. Mark joined the Youth, Fr. Jack and Fr. John at the monastery in celebrating the Liturgy. Afterwards, the staff of the monastery prepared a wonderful Luncheon for all who attended the Holy Qurbono.

The second discussion about the theme of forgiveness took place that afternoon and was led by Fr. Jack. The discussion focused on the meaning of forgiveness as it is given by the Bible, the relationship between repentance and forgiveness and how to forgive others. The discussion was followed by evening prayer.

After dinner, the Youth groups competed against one another in a game of Bible Bingo based on the fist five chapters of the Gospel of Luke. The game was a great hit and a perfect close for the events of that evening.

During the three days of this spiritual event, activities included giving praise to the Lord and singing of hymns, playing games based on the Bible as well as social activities and free time that allowed the Youth to bond with one another. Though the weather did not permit any outdoor activities, this by no means detracted from the enjoyment and enthusiasm of the Youth. New friendships were forged and old ones augmented.

The last day of the retreat started with morning prayers at the monastery Church followed by a leisurely breakfast after which everyone packed up in preparation for departure. The Youth left with a better understanding of forgiveness, enriched by their positive experience during the retreat, and with great anticipation for the next retreat, which is planned to take place in the Fall.

We would like to thank, first and foremost, Fr. Jack and Fr. John for their tireless efforts and their love and zeal for their young flock, without which, this event couldn’t have been the smashing success that it was.  A big thank you to all who worked diligently from planning to execution in making this retreat a special and holy experience for all. Last but not least, we would like to thank all the participating Youth, for their enthusiasm and their exemplary behavior and hope that the event has managed to bring home to them the fact that we all belong to this beautiful extended family; our Church family, and we all work together to glorify the name of the Lord, follow His example and bear the fruits of our faith in Him.

God Bless.