On Saturday, 13th April 2024, at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God (Kykkos) over 200 Youth and Young Adults participated in the 1st Annual Christian Orthodox Thyateira Youth Lenten Retreat particularly focused on The Ladder of Divine Ascent. The retreat was entirely subsidized by COTY and was free of charge to the participants.  All in attendance received a welcoming packet containing gifts and souvenirs from the day.

The Retreat began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in English celebrated by Rev. Fr. Stephen Morys Ireland (COTY Trustee). His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas presided during the celebration from the hierarchical throne. In his remarks, the Archbishop encouraged the young participants to attend the Sacrament Holy Confession. Dozens of youthful souls had the opportunity to confess to the V. Rev. Archimandrite Peter, Hegumen of the Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex.

Following the Divine Liturgy, Lenten breakfast was served, and the presentations began.  The V. Rev. Archimandrite Nephon Tsimalis, Protosyncellus and COTY Trustee greeted and welcomed those in attendance on behalf of the COTY Trust Chairman, the Rev. Protopresbyter Christodoulos Christodoulou. His Eminence inaugurated the retreat with a reflection on the Ladder. Hegumen Peter offered his presentation on the Ladder titled “The True Freedom of the Heart in the teaching of St. John of the Ladder.” The final presentation on the Ladder was offered by Rev. Oikonomos Dr. Kristian Akselberg (COTY Trustee) titled, “Rungs of Opportunity: Virtue as Inversion of Our Passions”.

Two workshops: one on iconography and one on making a 33-knot prayer rope were offered.

The Retreat ended with coffee, Lenten treats, and refreshments offered by the Cathedral and fellowship ensued in the beautifully decorated atrium of the Cathedral.

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