ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
"Keeping our College Students Connected to the Church"
University of Connecticut OCF Graduating Seniors Honored at Local Orthodox Parish
May 8, 2011 -- WILLIMANTIC, CT - Eight University of Connecticut seniors, the backbone of the school's Orthodox Christian Fellowship, were honored Sunday, May 1, 2011, by the parishioners at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Willimantic, CT, where the group was extraordinarily faithful since their arrival on the Storrs campus in September, 2007.
During their four years the students attended Divine Liturgy nearly every Sunday during the academic year. They served in the altar, sang in the choir, chanted, read the Epistle, cleaned the church, served during the bishop's archpastoral visits, hosted Coffee Hours, assembled health kits, held babies and communion cloths ... The community came to schedule every major event, including baptisms and Pre-Sanctified Liturgies, around their school schedules.
As the students entered in to the church one final time, each had a corsage pinned on their lapel. Then, they took their places in the choir and altar, only to be surrounded by their parents who had been invited unknowingly to the students themselves. At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, a program was held in the church's nave. All UConn students were prayed for as they began Finals Week, then Mary Ellen Junda, from UConn's School of Fine Arts who is also the Holy Trinity Choir director, spoke about the commitment the students had made to the building up of their spiritual lives during the college years. "College students have many choices," Dr Junda pointed out, "but it was obvious the choice they made was to be one with each other in Christian fellowship, and to be a part of this parish family. We are humbled by your choices."
A plaque honoring the students was prepared and now hangs at Holy Trinity, listing each student's name; a check was presented to the UConn OCF on behalf of Holy Trinity in order to advance the work of future OCF students. Several OCF seniors spoke to the community about their experiences in the OCF and at Holy Trinity. Beautiful wood frames were given to each student, and a group photo was taken which will be mailed to them as a keepsake.
A commemorative booklet was prepared where each of the students' biographical information was given, along with a letter from V. Rev. Michael Nasser, the North American OCF Chaplain. Also included in the booklet were updates on many UConn OCF alumni. As a final farewell gift to the students, the entire Holy Trinity Church community sang, "A New Commandment ..."
A wonderful luncheon prepared by Holy Trinity parishioners was held downstairs afterwards.
The graduating students included Christopher Adams, Michael Andrzejewski, Zachary Goulet, Rachel and William Kopcha, Samantha Rovers, Dave Wanik, and Nick Calibey. Also mentioned was junior Eddie Ryan who has been with the OCF and Holy Trinity his first three years.
"I have attended many graduation ceremonies -- those for myself, for family members, and annually, for 23 years, at the college where I taught," offered Holy Trinity parishioner, Dr Barbara Lacey, a retired professor from St Joseph College in West Hartford, CT. "The experience has almost always been one of simply knowing I fulfilled my obligations, with very little other emotional response on these occasions.
"It was so different (in our church) today. Everything done was so well planned.
"So much planning and work resulted in an event that unfolded beautifully for everyone. For me, it was the most thoughtful and moving graduation event I have ever attended. I am grateful for our parish, and especially for the concern it gives to our young people."
All of us at Holy Trinity are more devout Christians because of the example Mike, Sam, Chris, Dave, Nick, Eddie, Rachel, Will, and Zach presented to us each week. At every service we saw the joy of a humble Christian soul. We will forever remain grateful for their example and presence in our community.
May 10, 2011 12:38 AM