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2009 FSJD Fall Retreat

Friday-Sunday, November 6-8, 2009

No one left Chicago without first imagining the weekend in their mind full of great possibilities; yet, all left the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania with unexpected memories. Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine at St. George Church in Cicero, IL, travelled by Coach Bus, leaving early Friday morning for what would be an unforgettable time with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, only to return on Sunday night, at the end of their time together, feeling melancholic, as they all parted ways to their own homes.

Thirty-seven people gathered for a Spiritual Retreat, led by Very Reverend Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, Professor of Biblical Studies and Languages at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. The Retreat topic was “Growth in Christ: Scripture in our daily lives.” Throughout the weekend, participants followed this theme by planting a Cedar Tree in honor of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP, planted their own seeds by hand, and, of course, having seeds (the Word of God) planted in them. In order to grow, the seeds are to be strongly rooted. That root is Christ.

The green hills of Pennsylvania brought a sense of serenity and surrender to a timeless weekend, held now in their memory…

Participant Memories:

Sheeraz Almukhaimer: "The guest speaker was the highlight of this Retreat; I wish we had longer sessions. Also, the planting of the Tree and the seeds; I love the chosen parable from the Gospel of Luke and the way Fr. Saba related it to planting the tree that was one of the many messages that will always reside in my heart.”

Niveen Awwad: “Being a part of a faithful family and friends, it strengthened my knowledge and my faith in Christ.”

Rawan Awwad: “I gained a lot of knowledge and got to make new, great friends that made me feel part of a big family.”

Azzam Barhoumeh: “Love the way everyone got together in a non-traditional environment and discussed religion, Saints, Orthodox ethics.”

George Barhoumeh: “The best part about the trip was enjoying it on Saturday, team building, playing games and having fun with everyone.”

Hiba Barhoumeh: “It was nice getting to know people from our community.”

Amanda Burgoyne: “I have so many heartfelt and fun memories from this weekend. I’m really happy, humbled and grateful to FSJD for welcoming me with open arms. Fr. Tarazi’s message about faith, love, and hope also moved me and gave me perspective: that the most important thing is faith because that is what gives you stamina and your hope has to be precisely in God’s love for you.”

Michael Dahdal: “Team building - Boys win.”

Nicole Dahdal: “Watching most people experience the Antiochian Village for the first time was an exciting feeling and it brought us closer to each other.”

Liana Fakhouri: “The best part of the trip was team building, because we were using our minds. It was fun.”

Nadir Hinnawi: “My favorite memory was strengthening my bond with fellow Church members as my relationship with God got stronger.”

Joseph Homsy: “Christ, Family, and nature all amount to one word…Bliss. Absolute and complete bliss.”

Mark Imreibe: “My favorite memory was the team building. It had everyone work together.”

Abdo Imseeh: “One spirit, one body, one family is what we experienced for these days.”

Sandra Imseeh: “It was truly an uplifting spiritual experience for me, and my favorite memory was the group activities which brought me closer to my fellow FSJD members.”

Sami F. Imseih: “Father Paul’s message will resonate in my memory forever.”

Ghassan & Nevin Iqal: “The trip was both recreational and spiritual.”

Trevor Lenhart: “It was a chance to reboot my spiritual life.”

Fadi Mraibie: “It was fun.”

Laura Mraibie: “It was a great opportunity to have FSJD come together both spiritual & socially.”

Elian Mseeh: “I remember looking around at everyone during one of the activities, every single one of us had a smile on their face; to me, that was my best part.”

Rola Mseeh: “It was a great learning experience getting to know more about our faith and each other.”

Sami M. Mseih: “Calm, soothing, relaxing. The Village.”

Amanda Nimry: “I loved being able to connect with everyone while doing awesome team building exercises and seeing all of us interacting in a completely new environment.”

Nicole Nimry: “Hearing the lesson we had gone to learn initially felt like being dunked head first into cold water, but the fact we were all hearing, discussing, and, eventually, understanding together made me realize that the Retreat wasn’t just about what our speaker had to say… but about us coming together to accept it.”

Oudeh Rayan: “The Fall Retreat was an amazing experience and helped bring people of the Church together.”

Jimmy Rayan: “Collective communal laughter and shared understanding.”

Michael Rayan: “The Retreat was relaxing and fun!”

Mona Rayan: “Great time with everyone that we all grew up with and meeting more new people.”

Nora Rihani: “This Retreat allowed me to have a new awakening in my faith in Christ.”

Danny Shaheen: “My experience at the Retreat was an enlightening one. I was able to bond with the group and strengthen my spiritual relationship with the Lord.”

Eddy Shaheen: “The late nights hanging out with everybody in one room talking about God.”

Evelyn Shaheen: “My favorite memory is sitting in the chapel in silence; brought a sense of peace to my heart and soul.”

Rammy I. Zanayed: "From team building to the bus ride conversations, I am so glad that this Retreat happened to me at this point in my life because there are so many parts I cherished, and at this age I have learned to appreciate them all."

Fr. Saba: “The seeds planted on November 6-8 were planted by Christ and we pray “God gives the increase” (I Cor. 3:7).