Philoptochos has built OCF. Philoptochos has
given prayers, time, and generous resources to build and sustain the Orthodox
Church's ministry to serve college students from all canonical jurisdictions in
the US and Canada. Thanks to your continued and unwavering support,
college students are engaged in community, liturgy, study, and service from
Georgetown to Case Western, from Stanford University to the University of
This morning, we would like to dovetail on a recent
speech at Hellenic College/Holy Cross given by Aphrodite, your National
President, that inspired every one of us.
She spoke of the incredible women of
Philoptochos, their determination, passion, and incredible contributions to the
Orthodox community and those in need. OCF's young women in college are just as
Aphrodite described the women of Philoptochos - Bold, Strong, and
The young women of OCF are playing a bold, strong,
and decisive role -
We see it in our National Student Advisory
Board where half are women!
We see it in our Chapters of which 80 are
run by women.
We see is most profoundly in our National
Just this past March in our Real Break
77% of our participants were women.
Of the 77%, you may be wondering, how many
were from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese - more than half!
16 of the 18 team members who made the
pilgrimage to Constantinople to be in the presence of His All Holiness
Patriarch Bartholomew - were women.
We would like to take a moment to show you what our
young Orthodox women look like today. This video from our work with IOCC
in New Orleans, was produced by a Greek Orthodox young woman who is a recent
OCF graduate of the University of Texas.
As you can see from this video, our women are
involved, engaged, and developing. This is a result of the nurturing
youth programs that you support at the parish and Archdiocese level. You
provide OCF with Bold, Strong, and Decisive Women who are devoted to their
Faith and eager to be active in the Church and the world around it.
Philoptochos has also given us models to emulate.
A big shout out goes to the Southeast Philoptochos Chapters for being the
first to pilot the gathering of the contact information of incoming college freshmen
to ensure they are reached before and during their first few days of college
life. Thanks to you, we now have a North American Initiative we call "The
First 40 Days." Just this week, all Orthodox parishes are receiving a
letter asking them to forward us the contact information for their graduating
high school students. In the letter, we say explicitly: "Work with your
women's organization to do this!" Ladies, follow up with your parish Priest
and help us collect this information!
As you well know, this is just the first, necessary
step for reaching our students. Once we know who they are, we need to
embrace them. That is where we need your help now. Who is
better equip and more passionate than the Ladies of Philoptochos to lovingly
engage our isolated college students in their chapters?
Every Orthodox student going off to college needs
to know who the local OCF spiritual advisor and student leader are at their
school. We are responsible for making this introduction. However,
after we do so, we encourage you to invite the OCF chapter to your Church for a
coffee hour, luncheon, or small celebration.
But this could be just the start! The local Philoptochos
chapter could -
Assemble a welcome to college care package
to be delivered to the dorm room of every Orthodox student on campus. Let
them know we care! Also, provide students with an emergency contact card
- if they are in trouble, turn to the Church, and we will be there for them.
Surprise goody bags throughout the year, and
during stress provoking times, like exams.
An invitation to a Church potluck supper -
remember, nothing is better at keeping our students connected than a home
Be the home away from home during our most
sacred Church holidays so that no college student is left out of a Christmas or
Get them to Church. Tell the OCF student
leader that every Sunday a parishioner will be available to pick students up
And welcome them. Perhaps your Church
has a college registry. Make sure the cards are available. Encourage
the congregation to introduce themselves. We know it's hard for some
students to commit to teaching Sunday School, but have them serve as substitutes
or guest lecturers, particularly for the older grades. Many of our OCFers
are incredible role models!
Sisters, Philoptochos has helped us to reach our
goal of being in contact with our young people before college, and walking with
them during their time at school. OCF wants to give back to you and help
fulfill one of your goals - to connect young Greek Orthodox women to your
We offer to you our commitment to prepare and
connect our graduating young women back to parishes to serve and lead, back to
Philoptochos Chapters - as members who selflessly give of their time and
talents to further your mission. We want all of our women to graduate, return
to parish life and enter the women's ministries that are waiting for them.
We are so excited and awed about your recent
building purchase. As you prepare it to stand as testament to being the
largest Christian Women's Philanthropic organization in our country, we look
forward to seeing it become of hub for enrichment opportunities for our young
Orthodox women. We would be honored to work with you to put in place
innovative programming, from the lessons and expertise of the best thinkers in
our Churches, to provide exemplary training opportunities. We would like
for our college students to be part of that vision to ensure that they take
those learned-skills and use them in OCF and then in other ministries, such as
Philoptochos, upon graduation.
OCF is incredibly blessed to have your annual
$25,000 contribution. These funds go directly to support the general
operations of OCF, as outlined by you, and we are incredibly grateful for this.
Should you be interested in investing now to
develop your training program of the futures, housed in your beautiful building
in Manhattan, please know that last year, OCF piloted a 4-day leadership
training for our college student leaders. It was hugely successful
and provided both our young men and women with the necessary tools to be
develop their own chapters and support others. We want to go deeper this year
by including some of the best Orthodox professors, many of them women, in the
field of management and leadership. We
can be confident that we are combining our unique Orthodox principles with best
practices in business, management, and leadership to instill skills, knowledge
and the passion to develop our leaders of the future.
Invest now, and reap the benefits later. If
Philoptochos would like to make an investment, we can put in place a
state-of-the-art training program for our college students this summer.
Additionally, we would use your commitment as a match opportunity for
other Orthodox organizations to join in on the efforts of not only train our
next generation of stewards, but expand this programs to our spiritual advisors.
We have over 200 parish Priests who minister to our students and they are
in need of training and support. Our ultimate goal, as you can see, is to
professionalize the field of campus ministry by training both our students and
developing a true chaplaincy program for our priests.
Our students ARE Bold, Strong, and Decisive - and
with the proper training, they will ensure that not only Philoptochos, but the
Orthodox Church at large has strong, dedicated, and faithful servants.
Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos, who fell asleep in the
Lord in 1994, was a monk who is famous for his spiritual teachings. One
particular teaching, we feel is quite fitting defining the work of Philoptochos
and your contributions to OCF.
Elder Paisios says,
"I know from experience
that in this life people are divided in two categories. A third category
does not exist; people either belong to one or the other. The first one
resembles the fly. The main characteristic of the fly is that it is
attracted by dirt. For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of
flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top
of some dirt found on the ground. It will start messing around with it
and feel comfortable with the bad smell. If the fly could talk, and you
asked it show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: "I don't even
know what a rose looks like. I only know where to find garbage, toilets,
and dirt." There are some people who resemble the fly. People
belonging to this category have learned to think negatively, and always look
for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of good.
The other category is like
the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and
nice to sit on. When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a
small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on
top of the sweet. Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is,
it will answer: "I don't know. I can only tell you where to find
flowers, sweets, honey and sugar; it only knows the good things in life and is
ignorant of all evil."
Thank you for being our bees, thank you for your
ongoing support, thank you for keeping our college students connected to the
Christ and His Church.
Please accept this small chocolate bee, and a
magnet reminding all of us that women leaders of the Orthodox Church are BOLD, STRONG,
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak
with you today.
April 6, 2013 - Boston, MA