As I was getting ready to make a decision about where I wanted to attend college, a priest whom I love and respect told me to make sure I was only considering schools with an Orthodox Church nearby, and a strong OCF on campus. As I do more than I care to admit, I did not take the advice of the priest.
OCF played no role in my decision to come to the University of Michigan. It was the only school I wanted to go to, and once I was admitted, I accepted immediately. With so many other things to consider when choosing a college, OCF landed nowhere even near my radar.
I got lucky.
The University of Michigan has one of the most active OCF chapters in the country, and a thriving Orthodox community that makes a special effort to tend to the needs of college students. A community without which I would have absolutely lost my mind by now.
In some ways, college is a very difficult time to keep our minds centered around the joy and the victory of Christ. We are surrounded by so great a cloud of anxiety and sorrow; so much fear of the unknown future. What am I going to study? Which internship can I get this summer? Am I going to have a job when I graduate?
On top of that, we have so many people proclaiming their own “good news” that we’re told that the only sure-fire way to alleviate all of this is to drink until you forget it exists.
I wanted to start writing for the OCF blog NOT because I have a spiritual life worthy of sharing, nor because I have perfectly adapted the spirituality of the Orthodox Church to a life in college.
I wanted to start writing for the OCF blog precisely because I battle with the same things that every other Orthodox college student does. I want to be “the voice of one crying out [from] the [college campus]” challenging myself publicly, and others, to take a harder look at the way we live out our faith while we are in school.
Around us is chaos. Walk around the average college campus on Saturday night, merely hours before we partake in the Eucharist, and see for yourself. St. Gregory the Great reminds us in his commentary on the book of Job that “amid the tumult of outward cares, inwardly a great peace and calm is reigning, in love.”
To that place of interior peace and calm, we must go.
College is plentiful in excuses for not doing what we should be doing. For most of us, our camp experiences come to a close during our college years, Sunday School is over, and many of us do not have anyone that will drag us to church on Sunday or make sure that we pray before meals.
We need to start trimming the fat and seeing that there is work appointed for us.
I will be writing more in the coming days. I hope you look for my next posts.
Mark Ghannam is a Junior at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor pursing a degree in economics, and serves as the Vice-President and Head of Clergy Relations for his OCF chapter. In his free time, Mark enjoys reading, rock climbing, and long walks on the beach while discussing Liturgical theology.