Winter Teen Retreat 2012 - 02/02/12

Thou Art The God Who Does Wonders: Miracles and Orthodoxy

On the weekend of February 2-5, 2012, 35 Orthodox teens gathered together from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio for the annual Winter Teen Retreat at the Fatima Renewal Center in Dalton, PA.

Squeals of joy echoed down the halls of the retreat center as the students arrived one by one, greeting each other with smiles and hugs. Many of them already knew each other from Saint Tikhon’s Summer Camp’s Teen Program. (But despite all of the previously-established friendships, newcomers never stay “new” for very long, and everyone settled in comfortably.)

Fr. Timothy Hojnicki of Mechanicsburg, PA, led the group in Evening Prayers. Then, they gathered for a small workshop during which Fr. Hojnicki introduced the theme of the weekend – “Miracles and Orthodoxy”

Later that evening, everyone enjoyed spending free time in each other’s company. Most of the students sat around on big, comfy couches in the lounge area, listening to music and catching up with each other. A few gathered around a piano in a different room, while others took the opportunity to draw pictures at a table covered in arts and crafts supplies. Someone started a lively round of “Apples to Apples”, a card game that has become a tradition at the Winter Retreat over the years.

After a (mostly) restful night, everyone gathered for breakfast and Morning Prayers. At morning workshop, Fr. Hojnicki discussed with the teens how miracles are powerful confirmations of our faith that can strengthen our belief in Christ and the Church.

Lunch was eaten quickly in order for the teens to have enough time to enjoy a hike through the woods or a quick afternoon nap before the afternoon workshop and a special visit from His Grace, Bishop Tikhon. He spoke to the group about learning to recognize “everyday miracles” that may go unnoticed, such as the birth of a child, or the stars in the sky.

After Vespers and dinner, everyone enjoyed one more evening of free time before settling in to bed. They woke up early the next morning for Divine Liturgy, served by Bishop Tikhon and Fr. Hojnicki. Everyone sang their hearts out during the service, directed by Mr. Andrew Bohush. Afterward, they gathered for one more meal before their parents began to arrive.
There was a lot of hugging going on as the teens said goodbye to each other and shuffled out the door carrying luggage, pillows, and sleeping bags. Shouts of “See you at Summer Camp!” were heard regularly as parents corralled their teens out to the parking lot.
Although nobody was happy to go home, everyone had had a wonderful weekend, and they are all looking forward to returning to the Fatima Renewal Center for next year’s Winter Teen Retreat.
For more information about next year’s Winter Teen Retreat and other programs offered by the Office of Young Adult Activities, please visit