Kenilworth, NJ.- His Eminence Metropolitan EVANGELOS of New Jersey recently convened the 2006 Clergy Retreat of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey. The spiritually rejuvenating retreat was held on February 6-8, 2006, at the Grand Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey, and was attended by Clergy from throughout the Holy Metropolis.
This year’s Clergy Retreat was especially exciting as the 2006 Clergy Retreat Master was the Very Reverend Dr. George Tsetsis, Grand Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. A top graduate of Halki Theological School and a first rate Chanter, Fr. Tsetsis is one of the world’s foremost Liturgists. Fr. Tsetsis occupied several executive posts at the Geneva Headquarters of the World Council of Churches from 1965-1984 before being appointed in November 1984, by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Permanent Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a position he held until his retirement in 1999. In 1971, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in recognition of his dedicated service to the Church, bestowed upon him the Offikion of Grand Protopresbyter of the Great and Holy Church of Christ.
Fr. Tsetsis presented three key areas that affect our Clergy and Church today: “Mixed Marriages: A crucial pastoral and ecumenical challenge”, “Promoting Peace: A central pastoral concern of the Church” and “The Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Movement: A complicated one century old relationship.” Each informative lecture was followed by discussion groups, which vigorously engaged and debated the issues at hand. Fr. Tsetsis’ wide and profound experience in these areas proved most stimulating for the Retreat participants as well as provided for an exceptional resource of knowledge in these vital dimensions of pastoral concern.
Throughout the 3-day retreat, divine services were held which offered all of the Clergy present the opportunity to pray together and to partake of the Sacred Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during the same Divine Liturgy. Breaks during the program afforded the Clergy the chance to mingle with those Clergy whom they normally would not have the chance on account of distances to share fellowship with.
Another highlight of the Retreat was a visit to Richard Stockton College and a dinner reception and slide show hosted by the “Friends of Hellenic Studies.” The Founder of the group, the Rev. Protopresbyter Demetrios Constantelos, assisted by the Faculty Representative, Dr. Thomas Papademetriou and the “Friends” President, Mr. George Christy, thoroughly informed the Clergy of the ongoing efforts to promote Greek Language and Culture at the University Level, noting that over 600 students had registered for a course in one of the 5 areas of Greek Studies. His Eminence presented an icon of St. John Chrysostom to the President of Richard Stockton College, Dr. Herman Saatkamp, as a gift and expression of gratitude for his support of the Greek Studies Program.
All look forward to next year’s Clergy Retreat that will be held on February 5-7, 2007, in Annapolis, Maryland and will include a tour of the famed US Naval Academy.