The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 1, 2014

‘Future priests’ gather for spiritual retreat

JOHNSTOWN — Stephen Sudik takes seriously his responsibility as an altar boy in the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA.  

The 18-year-old from northern Virginia sees himself as a vigorous defender of his faith.

“It’s almost like a knightship,” he said. “You have to defend not only yourself but others in the faith against the evils out in the world.”

Sudik was one of 70 altar boys from around the country who gathered at Christ the Saviour, Cathedral, 312 Garfield St., for the 75th annual Altar Boys Retreat.

Altar boys ages 8 to 18 met for three days of fun and spiritual mentoring.

The retreat ends Wednesday.

“These are our future priests,” said the Rev. Robert Buczak.

“It’s three days of comradery, fun and spiritual enlightenment.”

Bishop Gregory of Nyssa led the Divine Liturgy on Tuesday morning.

“Heavenly worship on earth,” the bishop said. “It doesn’t get any better than this for us until we get to paradise.”

About 30 girls attended the service. They were part of a young ladies’ retreat the diocese is hosting for the first time, Buczak said.

The bishop urged the young people to become active in the Orthodox faith.

“You have a voice,” he told them. “You have a say in what happens in the life of the church.”

Sudik has been attending the retreat each year since he was 8.

His determination to defend the Orthodox faith is uplifted by the bright smile of youth.

“I like the fellowship and the friends you meet,” he said. “The memories that you make here will last a lifetime.”

The boys visited Windber on Monday and planned to attend a Pittsburgh Pirates game Tuesday.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on twitter at @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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