Young Adults Meet in Online Retreat to Ask, “Heal Us, O Lord”

The ACYOA Central Council hosted its third annual ACYOA Seniors National Fall Retreat for young adults on Saturday, November 14. The daylong virtual program met over the Zoom conference platform—a necessary departure from past practice of gathering at a retreat center, in light of ongoing pandemic restrictions.

Nevertheless, the nearly 80 participants from across the Eastern and Canadian dioceses still enjoyed a sense of camaraderie and fellowship while being linked via their computer screens. Adding a “personal” touch to everyone’s experience was the “care package” every participant received after registering for the retreat, which contained an ACYOA t-shirt and face mask, a prayer card depicting a holy icon, a candle, matchbook, notepad, and pen, among other items.

The retreat theme was “Heal Us, O Lord.”In the morning, Bishop Daniel Findikyan, assisted by Dn. Michael Sabounjian, began the retreat with a morning service and offered a message that caused participants to pause and reflect on the pain and ailments in their own lives that needed healing.

ACYOA Central Council members Alina Grigorian and Melissa Mardoian welcomed the group and helped participants get to know each other. The retreat’s three main sessions reflected the day’s theme: “Our World, Our Witness,” led by Alex Ouzounian; “Our Communities, Our Calling,” led by Dn. Yervant Kutchukian; and “Our Selves, Our Spirit,” led by Maria Derderian.

Each of the sessions incorporated small-group breakout discussions (like the one pictured above), which allowed participants to dive deeper into the topics. The day concluded with a specially created Communal Healing Prayer Service led by Fr. Hratch Sargsyan, pastor of St. Gregory of Narek Church (Richmond Heights, OH).

Click here to view screenshots captured throughout the retreat.

Jennifer Morris and Kathryn Ashbahian of the Eastern Diocese’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries department were present throughout the day and worked with the ACYOA Central Council on the virtual event. Contact them (at, and for support in local parish youth and young adult ministries.

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