How can I make a difference here at home?
In June 2013, St. Raphael church is hosting a hands-on missionary retreat to take on that very question. Held at the St. Andrew Center in Detroit, the retreat will focus on the church's mission and ministry to those in need right here in our own back yard.
For high school, college, and adult Orthodox Christians and catechumens.
The faithful will stay in the historic St. Andrew Center in Detroit, Michigan, and pray and worship together, share meals, and fellowship. We will receive practical instruction in the Church’s mission and ministries for those in need, and work together on some projects in the neighborhood.
Many of our youth and adults hunger to experience missionary work firsthand, but only a small portion are able to go abroad. While there is important work to be done here as well as overseas, our suburban parishes find little direct exposure to our urban and rural poor and to the homeless. Located in Detroit, the annual St. Raphael of Brooklyn URBAN MISSION week provides an opportunity to not only learn about missions in an Orthodox Christian context but to participate in outreach here in our own back yard.
In addition to neighborhood projects, missionaries will attend presentations and discussion forums at the St. Andrew center. Guest presenters currently include:
Paul Abernathy is a graduate of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He is a sub-deacon in the Orthodox Church and holds a Master's of Divinity with a graduate thesis entitled: "The Prayer of a Broken Heart: an Orthodox Dialogue with African-American Spirituality." He also has a Master's of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and has previously served as the Coordinator for Community Research and Project Development at Wheeling Jesuit University.He has also served as a non-commissioned officer in the Iraq war.
Currently, Paul is the director of FOCUS (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve) Pittsburgh, an Orthodox Christian urban outreach ministry and branch of FOCUS North America.
Kathryn Saclarides Bocanegra is Director of Violence Prevention for Enlace in Chicago. She coordinates six different community initiatives directed at violence prevention, street-level intervention, and organizing/advocacy efforts for criminal justice systems reform. These efforts are concentrated within Little Village (South Lawndale), one of the largest Latino neighborhoods on the West Side of Chicago, which struggles with high shooting/homicide rates. Due to the comprehensive approach to violence prevention, her department was recognized by the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards for having "The Most Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year."
Kathryn is a licensed clinical social worker who especially enjoys working with parents. She co-facilitates a support group for parents who lost children to violence and organizes parent patrols, encouraging families to take ownership over the safety of their neighborhood. After working with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) in Albania and the International Christian Charities (OCC) in Ethiopia, Kathryn finds her current work as the most challenging and yet the most rewarding. She is encouraged to connect with other Orthodox Christians who find their mission calling "locally" in responding to the needs of the suffering within their own back yards. Kathryn attends Christ the Savior Orthodox church in Chicago.