The 2009 Junior High Girls’ Convention centered around the theme of "Purity". The girls were blessed to have His Grace Bishop Thomas, Bishop of Al-Quossaya and head of the Anaphora Retreat Center as a guest speaker. Also present were His Grace Bishop Serapion and various priests from around the Diocese, including Father Lazarus Yassa, Father Athanasius Ragheb, Father Isaac Androus, Father Isaac Azmy, Father Mina Girgis, Father Boulos Baky, and Father David Elias. We were blessed with over 160 girls and chaperones this year, providing us an opportunity to celebrate two Divine Liturgies, with half the group attending the first morning and the second group attending the following day.
The girls arrived at Big Bear Village excited for a new retreat. After ice breakers and an introduction by His Grace Bishop Serapion, His Grace Bishop Thomas gave the first talk of the retreat. The evening concluded with a Bible study and Midnight Praises. The following day commenced with the Divine Liturgy and prayers, feeding in to a second talk by H.G. Bishop Thomas. An activity and open discussion with the girls and their servants allowed the girls to really express their thoughts on the topic. Their questions were answered in detail later in the evening by H.G. Bishop Serapion, following a third talk by H.G. Bishop Thomas. In the panel discussion with H.G. Bishop Serapion, the girls questions covered a variety of issues, ranging from social to spiritual topics. His Grace answered them all patiently, directing the girls to focus on the heavenly struggle.The girls concluded the evening with a series of skits, demonstrating what they learned throughout the retreat and applying it to various situations. The retreat concluded on the final day with another Liturgy/prayers and a final talk by H.G. Bishop Thomas.
H.G. Bishop Thomas kept the girls intrigued with his unique allegorical stories, relating lessons on purity through various moral stories. Ranging from trees to water to oil, H.G. Bishop Thomas provided visual demonstrations as well as interesting stories in an effort to explain the importance of maintaining purity, spiritually and physically, at such a young age. It was his first time talking to a junior high audience, but his points were clear and easy to follow. His impact on the girls was definitely positive, demonstrated by the wonderful skits they performed the final evening of the retreat.
We thank God for a blessed retreat and continually pray for His blessing in the years to come.