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Participating priests with Archbishop Demetrios at the 2011 National Clergy Retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The theme for the event was “Refresh. Renew. Recharge.” This was in fulfillment of the mission of the APC, which is to “support, enhance and promote the mission and brotherhood of our priests on all levels of their ministry and diakonia, spiritual growth and educational development, as well as their personal needs.”
Presentations on the retreat theme were offered by Archbishop Demetrios and Fr. Christopher Metropulos of St. Demetrios Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a special focus was also placed on health and wellness of the clergy.
The event started with the Archbishop’s welcome reception, during which every participant had an opportunity to personally meet and receive the blessings of His Eminence.
A southwest dinner followed, at which APC President Fr. Nicholas Anctil welcomed the brother clergy from around the country to the largest ever APC National Clergy Retreat, announcing that there were over 135 in attendance. On Wednesday morning His Eminence served Divine Liturgy at the newly consecrated Assumption Church in Scottsdale, then addressed the group at the Archbishop’s Forum, during which he answered question related to the pastoral ministries and personal and spiritual wellbeing of the clergy.
Fr. Christopher Metropulos then offered the presentations on the “Refresh” and “Renew” portions of the theme, sharing from his pastoral wisdom and personal experiences as a priest, husband and father. Workshop discussion groups allowed all the participants the opportunity to reflect, share and discuss their own experiences in an open and honest forum with their co-workers in Christ. Many retreat attendees expressed a great appreciation for the opportunity to do so and noted that those discussions were a highlight of the retreat.
In keeping with the health and wellness theme, professional fitness trainers conducted sessions to teach the participants exercises and fitness techniques based on their level of activity. Meal selections were also based on healthy food choices throughout the event. Representatives from the Orthodox Health Plan offered health and wellness information, and the trainers also conducted personal fitness consultations to all who desired them.
In keeping with the “retreat” model to vary the schedule and offer an alternative to just meetings and presentations, an afternoon of “adventures” was provided on Thursday, including options to travel to St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, hike nearby Camelback Mountain, golf or simply enjoy personal refreshment time. The group ended their final night with a visit to a local landmark, Pinnacle Peak Patio Steak House, where they enjoyed the genuine tastes and sounds of the west.
As reflected in the comments of one participant, “This retreat was a milestone for me personally. I am hoping it marks a new beginning in some areas that have been compressed and dormant for quite a few years. This retreat, as well as what it took to get me there, has begun a renewal process that I am feeling in multiple areas - physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual.” His Eminence, in expressing his thanks and support for these types of events, has challenged the APC to double its participation for the next event in two years.
Thanks go to the communities of the Archdiocese who supported the attendance of their clergy, the Metropolitans who encouraged them to go and Leadership 100, which provided a grant to assist in the overall funding of the retreat.
(Story also published in the December 2011 edition of the Orthodox Observer)