The past several weekends, Antiochian Village has been a beehive of activity. From March 11-14, over 160 participants from several states traveled to the Village for the Homeschooling Conference. Attendees enjoyed workshops, crafts and creative activities for the kids, corporate worship, and visits by His Grace Bishop Thomas with both the youth and adults. Thanks to the hard work of the Teen SOYO Chapters of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Johnstown, PA, and St. Michael Orthodox Church in Greensburg, PA, children attending the conference participated in a lively carnival complete with activities such as a hula hoop contest, a butterfly hunt, and most memorable of all, visits with "The Bible Guy."
The following weekend, March 19-21, four Christian groups used the conference center; one of these groups was the Antiochian Women of the East, who came for their annual Lenten retreat and Spring delegates meeting. Mother Alexandra of St. Thekla Convent, presented a retreat entitled, "Are You Ready For the Resurrection?" in two parts: first, she described an inventory of the Lenten toolbox and the Christian's struggle with spiritual warfare, and secondly, Mother presented a reflection on the Paschal Canon.
In one particularly meaningful event during the retreat, Father Don Shadid, the Spiritual Advisor for the AWE and Pastor of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, blessed the new icon of the Holy Myrrhbearing Women written by Kh. Erin Kimmett in memory of Kh. Joanne Abdalah. After the icon was blessed, there was a procession and installation of the icon in the hall that leads to the Antiochian Heritage Library. In her many years of service to our Lord, Kh. Joanne had offered her time and talents as the first librarian at the Antiochian Village, as President of the Antiochian Women of the East, and as President of the North American Board of Antiochian Women from 1997-1999. She fell asleep in the Lord in May of 2008.