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National Fall Retreat

The ACYOA Seniors National Fall Retreat was introduced in Fall 2018 as a new program for young adults across the Eastern Diocese to connect and grow in their faith together. Participants are encouraged to attend this faith-filled retreat for a weekend of reflection and an escape from daily hectic life.

2023 National Fall Retreat Recap: Witnessing Our Faith

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The 2023 ACYOA Seniors National Fall Retreat was held November 10-12 at the scenic St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, WI. Close to forty young adults from nineteen parishes across the Eastern Diocese gathered for a weekend filled with prayer, meaningful discussions, reflections and friendship, focusing on the theme of Be a Witness. The weekend began with an opening dinner, icebreakers and Vespers service with a message offered by Fr. Avedis Kalayjian. Our participants were overjoyed to have our Primate of the Eastern Diocese, Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan, with us Friday evening into Saturday, as they spent time hanging out and learning from him.


Saturday morning opened with Matins service and a message offered by Fr. Yeprem Kelegian. Bishop Mesrop led the first session of the day, focusing on "Witnessing Christ To Others." Bishop Mesrop spoke on his life journey to the priesthood, dissected Romans 12:2 and its application to how Armenian youth can be witnesses for Christ through our actions in daily life, and fielded questions from the group. The remaining sessions throughout the day and evening were a balance of small and whole group discussions led by the ACYOA Central Council members, including a special presentation by Sarah Stites from Ayo!. Sarah shared ways in which the group can be witnesses by supporting and advocating for ongoing Ayo! projects, including the current #ForArtsakhtsis relief campaign. During the day, participants enjoyed free time outdoors visiting the center's barn animals, exploring nature trails, playing music and more. The evening concluded with Vespers service and fellowship around a campfire.


Sunday morning, Fr. Sahak Kashian, who served as the chaplain for the weekend, celebrated Divine Liturgy and offered an inspiring sermon on the Gospel reading and its connection to the weekend's theme. After brunch, participants gathered one more time for the closing session before saying their goodbyes.


The ACYOA is blessed and appreciative of the clergy that spent valuable time with the group throughout the weekend: Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan, Fr. Yeprem Kelegian, Fr. Sahak Kashian, Fr. Tavit Boyajian, Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, Fr. Avedis Kalayjian, Fr. Guregh Hambardzumyan, as well as St. Nersess Seminarians, Arin Parsanian and Karo Boyadzhyan. Special appreciation to Yn. Lucine Sabounjian and Mardig Klachian, the Ministries and Outreach Coordinators of the ACYOA Central Council, for coordinating the weekend's retreat along with Jennifer Morris, Diocesan Staff member.

Highlights from Previous National Fall Retreats 

The 2022 ACYOA Seniors National Fall Retreat was held November 11-13 at Camp Washington in Lakeside, Connecticut. Centered around the theme of "Seeking Purpose," ACYOA Seniors from over 15 parishes across the Eastern Diocese came together for a fruitful weekend of reflection, faith formation and friendship! 

Joining the ACYOA Central Council to lead the weekend's various sessions and activities were the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Rev. Fr. Haroutiun Sabounjian (Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection, New Britain, CT), Rev. Fr. Voski Galstyan (St. George, Hartford, CT), Rev. Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian (St. Peter, Watervliet, NY), Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian (St. Mark, Springfield, MA) and Dn. Yervant Kutchukian (St. Peter, Watervliet, NY).

The 2021 ACYOA Seniors National Fall Retreat took the form of three regional, in-person retreats hosted by the ACYOA Central Council - as well as an abbreviated virtual retreat on November 7 for those unable to attend in-person. The in-person retreats were held at the following locations:

  • Mid-Atlantic (Saturday, October 16th): St. Leon Armenian Church, Fair Lawn, NJ

  • New England (Saturday, November 6): Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Cambridge, MA

  • Midwest (Saturday, November 6): St. James Armenian Church, Evanston, IL

Over 60 young adults from across the Eastern Diocese participated in a series of engaging workshops and discussions, including a scripture study and an interpretation of the word “liturgy” and what that means for our parish communities. 

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