GROW MInistry Hosts DKNE Camp
G.R.O.W. Ministry of the Northeast American Diocese held an overnight camp, Daughters of the King of the North East (DKNE), at the grounds of the Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center (HTRC) in Dalton, Pennsylvania.. This was G.R.O.W.’s second overnight camp but the first time being held at HTRC. The theme of this year’s camp was “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” taken from Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” Dr. Eugenia Constantinou, a biblical scholar holding several degrees in theology including a Master of Theology from the Harvard Divinity School, was the guest speaker at the camp. The camp was held between August 23rd – 25th, 2019 and hosted women of all ages, 13 and up from various parishes of the Diocese.
Participants traveling from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina arrived at the retreat center on a beautiful Friday afternoon. DKNE kicked off the event with evening prayer followed by opening ceremony. Several committee members enlightened us with an honest, thought provoking prayer conversation with God followed by a poem reading on FEARLESS written by a well-wisher. His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese, shared his enthusiasm for having this camp and the need for women to have their time with each other in the presidential address. A welcome speech was given by Mrs. Pincy Joy, Secretary of G.R.O.W. Ministry where she commented “one woman can make a difference but together we can rock the world.’ Rev. Fr. M.K. Kuriakose, Director of Development of HTRC, welcomed the ladies to HTRC and looks forward to many more events by G.R.O.W. Rev. Fr. Vijay Thomas, Spiritual Advisor for G.R.O.W., asked the ladies to take a respite and focus on their spiritual journey. After dinner, we regrouped outside by the bonfire, indulged in s’mores, entertaining ice breakers and participated in a song session led by Fr. Vijay. The night wrapped up after pajama party for a friendly game of taboo and charades followed by compline prayer in the chapel.
Day two started with morning yoga in the reading room led by Ms. Sarah George. She incorporated mindfulness and mediation along with a series of stretches to get our hearts pumping and blood circulating. This was followed by morning prayer at the chapel, and as a treat we trekked to the outside chapel to conduct third hour prayer. It was a beautiful sight to view the cross against the background of God’s majestic mountains and trees. It was a perfect way to start the morning! After a rejuvenating morning, we were indeed ready to welcome our guest speaker Dr. Constantinou to dive into the theme. Dr. Constantinou focused on the foundation in orthodox theology: what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God and an in depth look at the theme “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Although scientifically speaking we are made up of DNA, God created us with an intent and purpose in his image and likeness. Genesis reveals God’s creation starts with lower forms of life i.e. light and water and proceeds gradually to the highest form of life, the human being, created in the image and likeness of God. In the orthodox liturgy, the priest censors the congregation because he is censing the icon of God in us. We are wonderfully made with qualities of God such as goodness, purity, freedom from passion, alienation of all evil, and free will. We are fearfully made with wisdom and virtue that guides us to acquire the likeness of God which leads to us attain eternal life with God.
After Dr. Constantinou’s enlightening session, participants split into groups to discuss the following questions: “What do I say about myself?”, “What does the world say about me?”, and “How does God see me?” It was interesting to hear everyone’s responses to these questions. Generally, as a group, there were positive responses to the question “How does God see me?” On the contrary, there were negative responses to the first two questions mentioned above. Upon further discussion as a group and much self-reflection, it was clear that ladies were critical of themselves, but it was indeed acknowledged that God accepts us for who we are. Most importantly, the focus is on strategies that involve learning how to identify negative thoughts and replacing these thoughts with more positive ones.
The morning continued with hot topics which explored controversial topics that women face on a day to day basis. This was a very popular session, and women shared their different perspectives on each issue. After this session, we conducted noon prayer, had a photo session, and lunch. In the afternoon, the committee delighted us with an escape room activity. We worked in groups and were tasked to rescue the letters of St. Perpetua. The aim of the game was to hunt for clues hidden around the room (always in the most unexpected of places!) while piecing together puzzles, solving riddles and cracking codes. In this case, it was knowing the right Bible verse to unlock a safe which contained letters of St. Perpetua. The committee did a fabulous job keeping the participants immersed in unlocking clues to escape the room.
The afternoon continued with a second session with Dr. Constantinou. This session was certainly intriguing as we learned about the stories of women saints; namely, St. Sophia, St. Marina, St. Katherine, St. Monica, St. Helen, The Righteous Hannah, St. Nonna, St. Emmelia, and St. Anthousa. It was encouraging to learn that regardless of the trials and tribulations they encountered, they were confident about their faith in God.
To switch things up a bit, the committee organized a banquet dinner. The dining hall was decorated, photo booth was set up with a polaroid camera and props, and by this time everyone had worked up an appetite.
During dinner, we were honored to welcome Mr. Benjamin Samuel, Mrs. Mini George, and Mr. Jonathan Samuel to the DKNE camp. The Samuel Family inaugurated the Ashley Samuel Memorial Scholarship dedicated in memory of their daughter, Ashley Samuel, who holds a special place in our hearts. The scholarship would be awarded to a graduating female high school student entering into an accredited university/college and has made a big impact in the community, as Ashley did. The day concluded with evening prayer, an opportunity to ask Dr. Constantinou questions, a devotional address by Fr. Vijay and a time for meditation, reflection, counseling and confession.
The final day of camp concluded with Holy Qurbana led by our Diocesan Metropolitan. The ladies were given an opportunity to reflect and share their experiences. In essence, the DKNE camp proved to be a unique, special experience, and spiritual rejuvenation for all the ladies. The personal development, creating new memories, new friendships, and (in the words of Mrs. Sheena Mathew) the sisterhood of the traveling pants moments that we shared is a lifelong memory we will always cherish. We are excited and we look forward to future G.R.O.W. events! A huge thank you to every single helping hand who worked hard to make this camp a huge success through their prayers as well as financial contributions. Please remember G.R.O.W. Ministry in your daily prayers.
Click here to view pictures from the event.
Diocese Event, GROW
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