Flashback to one year ago this spring: I was sitting in my dorm room when I got a call from my Regional Student Leader (RSL) telling me to apply for the OCF Student Leadership Board (SLB) and that I would make a great College Conference Student Leader. I wasn’t fully aware of what the SLB is, but I did know what College Conference was having attended myself in 2019. I had even thought about leading it before, but I was hesitant to apply since I was heading into the infamous junior year as both a music and mechanical engineering double major while also balancing many other extracurricular commitments. Despite my crazy schedule, and to the dismay of my mom who thought I was already overcommitted, I decided to apply anyway, trusting that it would all work out.
Fast forward to this past summer: I’m a counselor at the Antiochian Village (AV), I’m the new College Conference Midwest Student Leader, and I still have no idea how I’m going to balance my schoolwork, extracurriculars, and SLB work come the start of the semester. But, God has a way of helping us figure things out, and it just so happened that our theme as AV staff was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Coincidence? I think not.
Now, we’ve all heard that verse before, but I’m here to remind you of it and let you know that it is 100% true. All of the things you are doing now, you can continue doing along with the SLB because Christ will give you the strength to do it. That is what I have found to be true this past year, and I know it would be true for you too.
So that’s how you can do the SLB, but now the current SLB and I want to tell you why you should. The Student Leadership Board is a group of devout and talented Orthodox Christian college students devoted to serving their peers and responsible for carrying out the work of OCF. From planning events, connecting people, to implementing programming, most everything that OCF does gets touched by the students on the board. Below are quotes from the current SLB which have been sorted into 3 different categories: Life-Giving Relationships, True Service, Spiritual Development – 3 reasons why you should apply!
True Service: Being on the SLB means you will be actively carrying out the ministry of OCF.
“As the regional leader, I advise and support chapter presidents at each university. They’re the ones who run the engine of the day-to-day OCF life – the ones who can foster a nurturing environment for Orthodox Christian college students to grow in their faith. I also really liked being in a position to run the retreats for my region. I saw the potential for regional retreats to be a truly transformational time to encourage Orthodox students to live a life in Christ.” – Nathan Liu, Mid-Atlantic Regional Student Leader
“I love the close connection and mentorship that the OCF staff gives the SLB. I feel much more acquainted with the beginning-to-end process of creating ministry efforts than I did before I began. OCF provides so much support and resources that I feel confident that I am maximizing my contribution to the ministry.” – Evan Roussey, Real Break Student Leader
“I think I’ve been a strong reference point for my community as they reach out to young adults, and I think that my involvement has been able to help me reach out to my Orthodox friends who feel less connected in their college communities.”- Catherine Thompson, Northwest Regional Student Leader
Life Giving Relationships: You’ll build some of the deepest and most life giving relationships with the other SLBers, OCF Staff, and the peers you serve.
“One of my favorite parts about being on the SLB includes the amazing community. After connecting in Dallas I now have a nation-wide support system of fellow Orthodox Christians. I feel comfortable talking with anyone on the SLB about anything, because they are all amazing people.” – Elyssa Koutrodimos, Great Lakes Regional Student Leader
“I like the connection and closeness of the leadership board and being able to meet new people via my district student leaders and others.”– Kiki Gormanos, Southeast Regional Student Leader
“ Since joining the SLB, I have felt of one spirit with everyone, and has been one of the most life-giving things I have ever experienced. I know that everyone on the SLB and on staff are committed to the same mission, the same God, and that I am one member in a greater effort. Yes, we work together, but we also have become close friends.” – Evan Roussey, Real Break Student Leader
“I love the strong community of friends that I have all over the country. Even though we are hundreds or even thousands of miles away from each other, everyone feels like family. I am extremely grateful this past year to have developed relationships that are fulfilling, both mentally and spiritually. We are all devoted to helping each other become better Orthodox Christians, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to surround myself with.” – Danielle Rallis, Podcast Student Leader
“It has changed my college experience because I have met so many people around the country both from the board and working to create events, and from those I now have a network of Orthodox Christians that I connect with on a very deep level. “-Thomas Retzios, Video Student Leader
“I have always been a very reflective person. I always wanted to have a place to have conversations and open discussions about young adults in the Orthodox Church. I hoped to get, as well as give, more insight about the reality of how Orthodox Christians use their faith, and how we can all grow in our spiritual journey. As podcast student leader, I have been put in a position to think about the faith on a more consistent basis. I hoped this would happen, as now it has become more habitual to not only think about my own spiritual life, but how we are young adults in the church are all trying to learn how to develop a stronger faith.” – Danielle Rallis, Podcast Student Leader
“Being part of the SLB has shown me how to take the gifts I have received from God and begin to put them to use. I integrate what I learn in school into the responsibilities that I have on the SLB; contributing to the SLB and OCF ministries has taught me how to participate more intentionally in the other parts of my life such as music and social life. I feel a sense of contribution and momentum; my efforts in academic, personal, and spiritual spheres all feel related. I thank God for that and know that the SLB was the key to integrating my experiences, equally for the tasks that it asked of me and the people that it gave me to share my life with.” – Evan Roussey, Real Break Student Leader
“It can be easy to feel inadequate, but remember you (especially in a leadership role on the SLB) have the potential to change someone’s life in an instant. If you ever feel deficient in any way, never forget that God has given everyone countless, daily opportunities to share His love with each other and to draw closer to Him together. Every moment has the potential to be transformed into something beautiful – whether it be holding a two hour conversation on the phone with someone you hardly know or a 15 minute, positive interaction you had on a zoom call. I have had many opportunities where someone changed my life in a matter of minutes. When you open your heart to this possibility, approach every relationship and pray, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace…”– Magdalena Hudson, Publications Student Leader
After reading all of this, I’ll assume you’re thoroughly convinced that being on the SLB is a life-changing experience to do Christ’s work, so I cordially invite you to apply. Please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or any of the current SLBers with any and all questions you might have. Descriptions of each position are listed within the applications found below. So apply, just do it.
Elias is a Junior at Valparaiso University studying music and mechanical engineering. He loves to lead his OCF chapter and will be serving as next year’s SLB chairman. When he’s not working on schoolwork, he enjoys playing his trumpet or guitar, beating his friends in ping pong, and laughing unnecessarily hard at marginally funny things. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Have you ever made a seemingly small decision that changed your life? Maybe you sat next to someone new in class who became your best friend or maybe you spontaneously bought a book that influenced your career choice. Looking back, you probably did not give much thought about whether to choose that chair or turn that first page, but it is difficult to imagine your life if you had not done so. An opportunity felt inviting, so you simply stepped forward into it and Christ led the rest of the way.
For me, one of these decisions happened back in December 2019. Before this, I had only heard brief mention of Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). The main event I had heard about was College Conference (CC) from a few camp friends. However, being from Kansas and knowing only a handful of people on the East coast, I was hesitant to attend. Thankfully, a friend who’d attended assured me people were welcoming and open to meeting new friends, so I decided to register my junior year of college.
I stepped foot in the Antiochian Village Conference Center (Where CC East is held) and was overwhelmed in the best way. First, the conference started out with the participants being blessed with myrrh from a miraculous myrrh-streaming icon. Then, the conference continued with workshops on topics like analyzing the Parable of the Good Samaritan and how we “are called to love our neighbor now, not when we are ‘good enough,’” how “there is no greater poverty than the poverty of love,” and how we should be wary of efficiency as this idea comes from viewing the world as a machine. I left each workshop with practical points and new perspectives to incorporate into my life. Additionally, being around hundreds of other Orthodox college students was incredible. I kept meeting amazing people up until the moment I got in the car to leave, and I could’ve talked for hours with each person! The three and a half retreat days went much too quickly, but I was ecstatic to find out there were more ways to get involved with OCF.
Through CC, I was encouraged to attend OCF’s Real Break program (Spring break and summer service and pilgrimage opportunities) and went abroad for the first time to Pro Vita Orphanage in Romania. Pro Vita is a place that embodies Christ’s teachings through welcoming and caring for anyone who needs assistance: orphaned children, people fleeing domestic violence, people with mental illness, and elderly people with nowhere to go. I wanted to connect other students with opportunities such as this, so I applied for OCF’s Student Leadership Board (SLB) as Real Break Student Leader for my final year of college.
With my plans to study abroad getting cancelled, school going online, and traditional Real Break trips being cancelled, this last year of college did not look like I had imagined. I was grateful to be healthy and have a safe place to live, but also, as many people did, I felt isolated. However, through the uncertainty, I knew I could count on OCF. I thrive off of connecting with other people, and OCF still made this possible. This community brightened up some lonely months through bringing me new mentors and friends with virtual programming of small groups, hybrid retreats, and prayer calls.
For example, while navigating the new pandemic situation with Real Break, I gained an invaluable mentor through working closely with Christina Andresen, Director of Ministries for OCF. Even though we don’t have weekly meetings anymore, I continue to be inspired by her faith, guidance, and hospitality. Additionally, I see my friendships from the SLB and other OCF events lasting a lifetime. These relationships are an answer to prayer. We can speak vulnerably about how to address struggles in our lives, share thought-provoking books, such as Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives and Father Arseny: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father, serve together at places like Camp Catanese, and even teach each other different, fun cultural dances.
Even after graduating, OCF continues to add blessings to my life. For instance, I am leading a weekly OCF small group this fall and am grateful to get to know wonderful women from across North America, from Alabama to Canada. Additionally, I am now interviewing for Physician Assistant school and am not sure where I will be living next year. Even with the uncertainty of waiting to hear back, I am confident there will be OCF connections wherever I end up geographically.
Fast forward almost two years from that seemingly small decision I made back in 2019, and I truly cannot imagine my life without the community, mentorship, and growth OCF has given me. My only regret is that I wish I could have discovered it earlier in college! If you are looking to enrich your faith and fellowship life in any way, join OCF! Go to your nearest retreat or conference. If that is not feasible, you are still in luck! Join small groups or call in to one of our zoom discussions. OCF is here to meet you wherever you are as you step forward on your path towards Christ. Make that “small” decision today.
Former Real Break Student Leader
Anna Spencer graduated from Kansas State University in May 2021 with her degree in Nutrition & Health and is currently interviewing for Physician Assistant schools. She loves learning about the world and the people around her through exploring new places, reading good books (she would love to hear your recommendations!), having conversations with strangers, and surprises. She is a Youth Equipped to Serve Leader, former OCF Real Break student leader, and has been a counselor for several different camps throughout the country. She loves new friends and OCF so email her if you want any extra encouragement to get involved at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that time of the year again — Student Leadership Board (SLB) applications are OPEN!
My name is Jeanine Kaileh and I have served as the Southwest Regional Student Leader (RSL) on the SLB for 2 years, and I’ll be serving as SLB Chairwoman for the upcoming academic year!
In April 2019, I was volun-told by two friends of mine to apply for the Southwest RSL position. I did not know much about what I was getting myself into, but I did know that it was for the Church, and that in itself is what drew me to apply. During that summer, I met with a few SLB members to discuss our upcoming year, gaining a better sense of what being on the SLB entailed. It was not until the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) in August 2019, that I fully understood what my responsibilities and expectations were. After two years (and moving onwards with a third year), I can confidently say that applying without fully knowing what was going to happen was one of the greatest, most unexpected blessings of my life.
If you apply for the SLB, here’s what you’ll be getting into:
Whatever your position may be, it’ll be the work of the Lord. That work, along with the work of our project committees, more often than not, is done in companionship with fellow SLBers who will likely become your closest friends while you’re on the board, and lifelong friends thereafter. Along with that, the work that comes into fruition impacts fellow students of the OCF community and allows not only them, but yourself, to spiritually grow in such a transformative time of our lives. Like anything in life, there are moments of frustration, confusion, and even disappointment, but the joy, beauty, grace, and Christ-centeredness of it all is what drives the SLB to continue on with the work of the Church and the faith.
Being on the SLB is the gift that keeps on giving. As written in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Why did you join the SLB?
“I joined because I wanted to do more for the Orthodox Christian Fellowship and for the college students in this ministry. The people who encouraged me to apply and those who I knew who were on the board currently had the greatest most loving hearts, souls, and minds. I had a feeling that it would probably change my life to work with them and get to know them. I was not wrong.” – Alethia Placencia
I joined the SLB because I wanted to contribute to an organization that I have grown to love over my college career. Hearing the stories from previous SLBers inspired me to apply to the board so that I could work to make OCF the best it could be. – Thomas Retzios
I joined the SLB because I wanted to find a way to build a connection with my faith and the people around me on a deeper level. I also wanted to learn professional skills that could help shape me as an individual – Jenna Riadi
What do you like about being on the SLB?
“The SLB is an answer to praying in bringing me a community who supports me in my work and who I can be my authentic self around. I know I could call up anyone on the board, and they would be there for me to listen or help in any way. I love everyone I have met so much, and I know these people care about me deeply! I love how supportive we are of each other. Every person puts their whole heart into their work and wants to create a beautiful experience for their fellow students.” – Anna Spencer
“I love all the community and love and all the new friends I have made. Everyone is so amazing and willing to help with whatever I need. The SLB has provided me with great people who push me in my faith and as a leader and help me do my best work for OCF.” – Alexandra Gluntz
How do you feel it has changed your college experience?
“I have made my closest friends through this program. It less “changed” my college experience and more *defined* it.” – George Powell
“Being on the SLB has given me a deeper understanding of my faith.” – Teli Stathopoulos
“SLB has made me a better student, friend, Orthodox Christian, and individual! Wait, you want me to elaborate? SAY LESS. Serving on the student leadership board has strengthened my time management and communication skills! I find it much easier to stay on top of my responsibilities as a student and EMT as I’ve learned to maximize my time to ensure everything gets done immediately!” – Remy Salloum
“Serving on the SLB has changed my college experience by connecting me with other Orthodox Christians around the country, and through our work on the SLB, we have all developed close relationships.” – Thomas Retzios
Do you have any advice to anyone applying?
“Even if you’re not sure you’re qualified, apply! This is a space for learning and growth, it’s a safe space! Don’t be afraid to apply and ask questions :)” – Jenna Riadi
“Bring your ideas to the table. OCF is dedicated to growing and improving while having fun :)” – Analisa Callendar
“I had no idea what this year would look like due to the pandemic, but I am so glad I took the leap and applied for my position. Joining the SLB helped me experience love and support in more ways than I knew existed. My experience with OCF has been amazing so far, and I hope others can benefit from this organization as much as I have. APPLY!!!” – Peggy Polydoros
“Make OCF a priority and you won’t regret it.” – Sofia Kroll
“Be ready to have a good time.” – Tino Kayafas
Southwest Regional Student Leader
I am a 3rd year biopsychology major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I enjoy cooking, baking, reading, journaling, and tatreezing(traditional Palestinian embroidery). I’m serving currently on the Student Leadership Board as the Southwest Regional Student Leader for my second year and next year I will serve as the Chairman of SLB! I love OCF with all of my heart! Email me at email@example.com with any questions!
OCF is proud to partner with FOCUS on multiple projects and missions, including YES College Days and Real Break trips. As such, it is our pleasure to announce that FOCUS is launching their first annual Servant Leadership Conference (SLC) on Memorial Day Weekend (May 25th – 28th). Open to high school seniors and college students, the SLC represents an opportunity for young people looking to learn more about servant leadership, community work, and their faith. For more information on the SLC and to register, visit FOCUS’s site here.
We sat down with Larissa Hatch, a staff member with FOCUS, to learn a little bit more about the conference. You can read our interview with Larissa here:
1. Give us a little background information on the conference–where, when, what are the topics, how much does it cost, why should a student attend?
The conference takes place in the beautiful Phoenix area (a great place if you’ve never seen a cactus!) where Assumption Greek Orthodox Church will be hosting YES! The registration fee is $175, which will cover all meals, housing, and activities; it is also a donation to the program so we can keep serving those we encounter on future YES trips across the country. You should go if you want to continuing growing into your leadership skills. Chances are, you already (definitely) have the stuff it takes to be a leader and this conference will be an opportunity to reveal your real strengths while connecting with some other amazing people in the YES family from all over the country.
2. What was the impetus behind creating the conference? What void in high school/college students’ lives are you hoping to fill?
The best part about all things YES is that the goal is very simple: leave a little more aware and a lot stronger! A lot more happens, and the experience always evolves as we go. Everything happens on God’s time and His agenda.
Young adults don’t always get recognized for the leadership and direction they can provide to their communities. We hear that they are inexperienced, too young to get it, or are just ignored. It is important to honor everyone’s perspective and experience, especially the students as they have more to offer than we’ll ever know.
3. Why should prospective students be excited about the idea of attending the conference? What is special or unique about the conference that students can’t get elsewhere?
We will never tell anyone how they should feel or what should happen for them. THAT is what is unique to YES–we simply exist for the sake of the group and our growth, and God handles the rest. Students are encouraged to show up as they are–you are the introvert, great! you are the life of the crowd, awesome! The beauty of YES is that it isn’t even imposed, it is innate, for everyone to embrace each other and share in this unique experience which reveals a level of vulnerability and love unmatched elsewhere.
Remember, to register or learn more about the conference, follow this link to FOCUS’s site!
University/College: George Washington University (but I am a part of Georgetown’s OCF)
Major: International Affairs
Minor: Modern Greek
What are your plans for after graduation?
Find a job, make enough money to survive, get out of D.C.
What’s your favorite OCF memory?
When I was a freshman commuting between George Washington & Georgetown, I would get there early. I was terrible at running my own affairs on my own so I was lacking sleep and getting between the two campuses too early or too late. If I got there too early, I slept in our chapel curled up on top of my backpack under the icon of Christ. I remember falling asleep looking up to Him & a candle lit and waking up refreshed. The OCF was my spiritual refuge and for a couple of months was my physical refuge until I got my life together.
Words of wisdom for the next class of OCFers:
Just as Father Constantine told me that the Church is our home no matter where we go, the OCF in college is no exception. The Georgetown OCF was there for me when my own university wasn’t. I leave a part of myself in Copley Crypt, where we had vespers & celebrated pre-consecrated Divine Liturgy.
For students who’ve never been, what is College Conference? What can be expected?
Anna: College Conference is an event that happens every year over Christmas break for young adults between the ages of 18-25. Every year, students from all different jurisdictions, come together to celebrate their love for the faith and aid each other to grow on their spiritual journeys. You can expect a lot of hugs, love, and warmth from everyone!
Nora: Various aspects include prayer in the mornings and evenings, incredibly hilarious and fun social events, loving fellowship with other Orthodox Christian college students, a keynote speaker who covers the theme of the given year, and different workshop speakers who address various sub-topics under the main theme. People can undoubtedly expect to witness the presence of the Holy Spirit and to be welcomed with love, as well as to be uplifted in all different manners, to be enlightened tremendously in a short amount of time, and to make friends/build on already existing relationships in a way that may have been unexpected!
Q: Our theme for this year is Modern Martyrs: Witnesses to the Word. What does the theme mean to you? Why is it important?
Nora: The theme is what I am most looking forward to this year. This means the world, quite literally, to me, because as is said by (I believe) St. John Chrysostom, “One soul is worth more than the entire world.” This theme was, no doubt, inspired and decided by the Grace of the Holy Spirit because it could not be more accurate and applicable to us as Orthodox Christians in college for what is happening today in a societal and global level. In Syria and other parts of the world, people are being slaughtered for their faith, and multitudes each day are gaining their crowns of martyrdom; whereas here, in America, we become martyrs in the sense that we must face and deny secular social pressures, temptation from all angles, maintaining pureness of heart amidst evil from social media and other forms of communication – all of which is worsening day by day now, it seems. This topic will give us further tools in order to protect ourselves and fight against the traps of the demons that cause us to become martyrs every day.
College Conference West student with Abbot Tryphon
Q: Why would you encourage students to attend?
Anna: A college lifestyle usually revolves around burying our heads in our work, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and constantly being on the run. College Conference is a chance for students to take a break from their hectic schedules and learn about the faith. A chance for students to grow in their faith and return or start to improve their praying habits. A chance to learn from other Orthodox students who are struggling with similar obstacles. College Conference gives us a chance to re-center our lives on Christ and meet other students who want to help us succeed!
College Conference East students enjoying the banquet
Q: What have been some of your favorite memories from College Conference?
Anna: Every year, my favorite part is the late night chanting in the SS. Peter and Paul Chapel. Each night, students come together and join each other in prayer and song. There is something about it that I truly can’t explain. My first College Conference, I stayed in the chapel the final night until 3am listening and signing along with the hymns I knew. Name another time that you can find a large group of college students gathered together singing and praying to God. You can’t! Come to College Conference and experience my favorite memory for yourself!
Nora: At CC last year, the girls and guys split up and did their own “group chats.” Us girls as an entire group talked, opened up to one another, expressed and loved each other fully, and it was an uplifting, amazing, and life-changing experience. However, the general stereotype for women versus men is that women speak more. Right? Wrong. The most heart-warming thing was that, not only did us ladies finish our talk before the men BUT their talk went on for over an hour longer. This bond is so powerful that “man chat” has continued on into even today – these guys are still amazingly frequently in contact. The most unforgettable memory for me at College Conference 2014, we concluded the last evening with a talent show. When the dance off started to seem to die down, one boy began playing an Arabic beat, so another girl and I started dancing to the Arabic music. Then, more people started coming up and we started a dabke (Arabic line dance). Subsequently, most everyone was up in spontaneous dancing together – the joy was unfathomable! Greeks, Indians, all of the Middle East, Caucasians, Russians, Romanians, Latin Americans, Egyptians…. no differences between any of us existed. We were and are one Orthodoxy, one mankind. Words could not describe this moment, and it is an evening that I will never, ever forget.
Midwest OCFs, you’ve got a retreat! Your Regional Student Leader, Nicole Petrow, is here to tell you all about this exciting event in Omaha, Nebraska from September 25th – 26th.
Q: What can students expect to happen at the retreat?
Meet and socialize with other OCF students from the Midwest, hear from speakers on being an Orthodox college student, participate in a scavenger hunt in downtown Omaha and much more! Come and experience Christ’s love through fellow Orthodox students and take a break from college life to reflect on one’s faith.
Q: Why should someone come to this retreat?
Anyone looking for a sense of community, renewal of faith, or some delicious free food should mark their calendars.
Calling all Southwest OCFers! You’ve also got a retreat coming up – September 25 – 26 in Phoenix, AZ. Take a look at what your Southwest Student Leader, Markayla Stroubakis, had to say about this fun and free event.
Q: What can students expect to happen at the retreat?
At the retreat, students can expect to meet other OCFers from the state of Arizona and participate in a discussion led by Rev. Fr. Apostolos Hill. Also, students will be making bagged lunches and handing them out to the Phoenix homeless.
Q: Why should someone come to the retreat?
Students should come to the retreat because it is important to experience the message of the faith with others, especially college students that live close to us. This way we can make friends we will have for a lifetime, whose foundation is rooted in the faith and love for God.
Q: How can students get to the retreat?
Students are encouraged to carpool with their friends and fellow OCFers to the location, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. If you are an Arizona State student, luckily for you, the retreat is just around the corner. Get pumped!!
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the retreat?
Although I am unable to make the retreat myself, I’m looking forward to what everyone else has to say about it. I’ve heard Father Apostolos is an incredible speaker and can’t wait to hear his sermon/discussion.
As you might have noticed, your Regional Student Leaders are (rightfully) super excited for the regional retreats coming up. But so are the students! Hear from Rachel Howanetz, a sophomore at Millersville University, who attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Retreat last year.
Q: Describe your experience at last year’s retreat. What stood out to you?
Attending the retreat last year was the first large OCF event I attended. I had no clue what to expect and did not really know anyone other than those who also attended from my OCF. From the moment I walked into St. George I felt an immediate connection to those around me, and a sense of community that I have only ever felt before with my teen SOYO and my Antiochian Village camp friends. I was amazed to see so many people reuniting with friends from other colleges and universities and only hoped that as just a meek freshman I would make similar friendships with other Orthodox college students.
Q: What was your favorite part of last year’s retreat?
By far, my favorite part of last year’s retreat was the Paraklesis service that we sang to the Panagia. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. The icon of the Kardiotissa was present, and along with the strong, and sweet aroma of the icon’s myrhh, the students’ love-filled voices filled the church and it was as if we had truly been transported from earth to heaven.
Q: Why did you decide to go to this year’s retreat again?
I made the decision to go again this year because I want to be able to feel that sense of love and community again. Often times, especially as a young college student, it can be hard to find that on your college campus. I want to be able to feel the sense of peace I had being in the presence of the Kardiotissa again, and I want to be able to take a step back from my busy college life and reflect on all of the blessings in my life.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about this year’s retreat?
I am most looking forward to seeing some of my friends from other colleges and universities and spending the two days in worship and service with them.
Q: Why is it important for students to go to their regional retreats? What words of encouragement do you have for them?
Take the leap of faith and go. You will not regret it. Especially if you are a freshman this year, you might be a little hesitant about going—I know I was last year, but just go. As important as it is to focus on your school work, focusing on your spiritual life, especially in college, is essential to maintaining a healthy mind, body, and soul. Attending the regional retreat will be like getting a breath of fresh air and you will feel renewed and ready to go back to accomplish great things on your college campus.
REGISTER for this year’s retreat today!
Rachel Howanetz is a sophomore at Millersville University, where she is majoring in Early Childhood Education. She enjoys dancing, singing, photography, crafting, and traveling. This past summer, Rachel served as a counselor at the Antiochian Village. During the school year, Rachel loves being involved in many education related organizations on her university’s campus, and at the same time, has a passion for growing in her faith and being involved in OCF.
Hey Mid-Atlantic OCFers! You also have a retreat is coming up soon – September 18th to September 19th in Taylor, PA. To give you a better idea of what to expect, here are some thoughts from your Mid-Atlantic Student Leader, Karma Khoury.
Q: What can students expect to happen at the retreat?
Hey Northeastern OCFers! In case you didn’t know, you have a Regional Retreat coming up in a few short weeks from September 18th to September 19th in Boston. To give you a better idea of what to expect, I asked your Northeast Student Leader, Alex Kuvshinoff, a couple of questions.
Q: What can students expect to happen at the retreat?
Students attending the Northeast Regional Retreat can expect to have a full day of service projects. As is written in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Many students struggle to find time to give back to the community around them, and with the Northeast Regional Retreat, college students can come together in a peer setting and serve others.
Q: Why should someone come to the retreat?
Students should come to the retreat because it is a rare opportunity that they can only seize now, while in school. Academic institutions are full of many different views and life styles. But the Northeast Retreat allows students to spend time with like minded individuals that share the same Orthodox Christian values, while working synergistically to help others. Additionally, the retreat is a good break from the typical college weekends that are more than plentiful throughout the year. Finally, students will have an opportunity to explore the amazing city of Boston!
Q: How can students get to the retreat?
Students have a multitude of ways to get to the retreat. It will be located in Boston at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. Students are encouraged to car pool with members of their OCF. However, if no other students are going from your school, students can contact me (Alex) at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can link you up with other students traveling from schools nearby. Lastly, students can use trains or buses. Both run frequently to Boston from most cities in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and surrounding states.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the retreat?
I am most looking forward to sleeping over in the church. There is something peaceful about waking up and walking down the hall to service. It is truly the best way to start the day. Also, I am excited to serve someone else in need. It is easy to forget about others when we are in college because we are so focused on ourselves and piecing together our futures. But, the retreat will give students an opportunity to step out of the bubble and help those truly in need.
Alex would also like to add that for students in Upstate New York and Toronto Canada area that are far removed from Boston and can’t make it, we have good news! On Saturday, September 26th from 11-1pm, The well renowned Metropolitan Kallistos Ware will be speaking to college students at the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Buffalo. You can register for that event here. We look forward to seeing you in Boston and Buffalo in September!