REPORT OF ADVENT RETREAT 2019
The Advent Retreat 2019 was organized by the Indian Orthodox Diaspora (IOD) at St. John’s Orthodox Church, Mayur Vihar Phase-1 on Sunday December 1. About 120 participants from various sister parishes of Delhi Diocese attended the event. This year, the Retreat was led by Brother Steve Rocha of St. Columba’s Community who is a renowned child rights activist and Christian preacher. He took interactive sessions based on the Theme “Kenosis” which means “self-emptying” and refers to the great mystery of God humbling Himself as manifest in the incarnation of Christ, a theme based on Philippians 2:8.
Bro. Steve and his team from NGO Pratyek, comprising Grace, Iris and Vijayan were welcomed by Rev. Fr. Shaji George, Vicar of the host parish – St. Johns Orthodox Church. This was followed by an introduction of the resource team by Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Pathrose, Vice President of IOD.
Bro Steve introduced the theme by splitting the participants into five groups, each symbolizing the scene of the Nativity of Jesus. The groups were called Angels, Shepherds, Kings, Stars, and Holy Family. Each group was asked to sing a Christmas carol that introduced the character of their respective groups. The group members also had to enact the song by re-creating the scene of Nativity with Baby Jesus, Mother Mary and Joseph.
This was followed by the first session on “Jesus in His Times”. To emphasize the situation that existed in the society around Jesus, Bro Steve and his team conducted an activity “What is our Context” to demonstrate the society around us.
Each group was provided with newspapers and chart papers. They cut out relevant news articles that described the society around us. Each group had to present a collage and describe their final presentation. This activity helped draw a distinction between what Jesus stood for as compared to what the world stands for.
Bro. Steve introduced the second session of the Retreat focused on “The Response of Jesus”. The resource team gave each group a Bible verse relevant to the theme. Bro Steve introduced the context of the Bible verses and asked the group to enact a short skit, drama, or song describing the relevance of that verse.
The themes based on the Biblical verses were: Baby, Death, Parents, Human, God, and Obedience.
The participants clicked a group photograph before proceeding for lunch. On their return, each group was asked to perform a small task. A small paper was provided and the groups had to suggest two ways in which they would observe the Advent Fast in a different way. This session prepared the participants in drawing up resolutions for the Advent period. Each group then presented their thoughts on the subject.
Bro. Steve spoke about the virtues of chastity, poverty and obedience, necessary for living as a good human being. The last activity of the day was “Crib and Me”. Each group based on their name was given props and asked to form a scene of Jesus’ crib singing their respective carols. This marked a perfect end to a fun-filled day of intense activity.
The team led by Bro Steve Rocha was felicitated for making the Advent Retreat 2019 a memorable event. Rev. Fr. Shaji George presented a memento to Bro Steve as a token of love and appreciation on behalf of the Indian Orthodox Diaspora. The organizers of the Advent Retreat 2019 thanked each individual member of NGO Pratyek for their invaluable contribution to make the event a success. Before leaving, the team provided the list of 25 resolutions discussed during the session. The Indian Orthodox Diaspora decided to circulate one resolution at a time for every single day of the 25-day Advent Fast. This helped participants to relive the Retreat experience throughout the Advent season.
The Advent Retreat was coordinated by the Conveners Sanjay R Varghese and Abraham Thomas. In the vote of thanks, the IOD Committee recognized the invaluable contribution by the Vicar of the host parish Rev. Fr. Shaji George, Rev. Fr. Ferdinand, VP-IOD, the Church Managing Committee and members of the St Johns Orthodox Church for rendering all support, financially and otherwise, towards the success of the program. The IOD Committee recognized the individual contributions made by the choir members led by Ms. Gabriya & Mr. Syril, the efficient compering of the day’s event led by Mrs Sneha Sharon Mammen, the designing of event poster, backdrop by Mr. Johnsy, and the support of each IOD Core Committee member and IOD office bearers.
May God be praised for a blessed Advent Retreat 2019! As inspired by Br. Steve Rocha and team, may we all carry the message of the humility of God as manifest through His incarnation into our daily lives.