Real Break Now: How it came to be. How it’s going. How to be the church in the world.

Real Break Now: How it came to be. How it’s going. How to be the church in the world.

After serving in Romania on Real Break 2020, I applied to be Real Break Student Leader for Orthodox Christian Fellowship. I wanted to help create other service opportunities for students. What a whirlwind of a year! Back in early Fall 2020, we did not know how long the pandemic would last, and we kept running into barriers in planning. We did our best trying to navigate traveling precautions and eventually saw most schools cancelling their spring breaks. As the year progressed, it became obvious that a traditional Real Break would not happen. To be completely honest, this was frustrating and disappointing. I found myself nervous I would not be able to do the work of my position on the Student Leadership Board. This time was trying, but it was still fruitful!

With a desire to empower students to serve their communities, especially with increased need due to COVID-19, a new program was created! A dedicated team of OCF staff and friends listened to me as I brainstormed ideas, and thus, a flexible 16-week course with nine incredible instructors called Real Break Now: How To Be The Church in The World was formed. Students living in 22 different states and 5 different countries have come together to prepare for the opportunity to apply for two $1000 grants towards a project serving their community this summer.

I am incredibly grateful for each person who helped to make this happen. The students have put so much thought into the material. Here is just a glimpse of the topics we have discussed during the first three modules:

 

Module 1: How Orthodoxy is a Way of Life, Not Just a Religion, led by Fr. Nicholas Belcher

We discussed questions on how to avoid “Phariseeism,” stories of people who have impacted us spiritually, the interaction between church rituals and service, and actions we can take to make our faith more of a way of life. Here is what a few of our wonderful students have to say:

 

”I really like how Fr. Nick addressed the alleged dichotomy between church rituals and good deeds/service. Growing up Orthodox, I have always believed the Sacraments are important. In society, I feel like some say that the church is useless without service and living out the Gospel and act as if the two are mutually exclusive. I like how Fr. Nick simply points out that if you think about it, there is no reason for them to be mutually exclusive and that, in fact, they support one another and are both essential to follow The Way.” -Chase

”I’ve always admired the way that Orthodoxy encompasses all five senses – from the iconography (seeing), to incense (smelling), to Holy Communion (tasting), to the choir and chanters (hearing), to crossing and performing prostrations (feeling). Growing up in a protestant church, I always felt God was at arm’s length, that reverence was an old-fashioned notion. Once I stumbled across the Orthodox faith, (admittedly at first I was skeptical of my first Liturgy due to it being such a different service than I was used to), I could sense that Liturgy was/is so much more than a penciled-in Sunday appointment. Orthodoxy is a faith that brings together – even, as Fr. Belcher described – the seemingly opposing “works” and “spirituality” – We need both! And his talk was a needful, convicting reminder of this.” -Anna-Sophia

”I definitely struggle with living in the Way without making a checklist (lol), but I find I get closer to my spiritual best when I decelerate. Most of the best moments in my spiritual life happen when I slow down, reflect, and truly focus on God and the moment. My faith becomes a checklist when life speeds up, I let myself get too busy, and I start to rush through prayer, my interactions with others, etc. I try to avoid falling into “Phariseeism” by countering moments of pride with thoughts of thankfulness and humility. Galatians 2:20 has really helped me center myself in my spiritual journey; it is the only Bible verse I’ve ever memorized: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Peggy

“When he was talking about orthodoxy being a way of life, I got reminded of struggles that I used to have and that I may slightly struggle with to this day – putting God into every aspect of your life. Throughout high school and especially my first two years of college, I was very focused on my academics and career but I never put God into it. I never asked God to lead me, instead, I took things into my own hands. I felt like I was a part-time Christian because I was only asking Him for guidance concerning certain matters. But the thing is God should be put everywhere. He should be the light to your career, your friendships and bonds. Instead of telling God, “Please help me to get into this company I really want to intern with them,” maybe we ought to say, “Lord if it is Your will for me to work with this company then so be it, and if not, then may I be deterred from it.” When I started saying this prayer, I saw that was paving the way for me and it was very much clear.” -Kermena

  

Module 2: How to Have A Hospitable Heart, led by Georgia Mamalakis

We discussed how we have been affected by being given hospitality, the importance of being present, how to cultivate a welcoming spirit, and shared practical suggestions with each other.

 

“I think too often I don’t approach people or am not hospitable because of my own pride- I think do I want to add one more person who could potentially judge me to this moment, or would I rather stay in a safe shell? As soon as we are hospitable to someone and invite them in, we have the potential to get hurt by them, too. And I think that’s where the second point is so important- being hospitable to Christ and having Him dwell in you and giving you that God-esteem, which helps us to be hospitable to ourselves by knowing Christ is in us. Allowing ourselves to give and serve out of pure philanthropia and philoxenia means overflowing with love that we just give in abundance to everyone we meet, not thinking about how they might perceive/judge us in return. Unconditional love is giving without expecting any love back, but it’s also giving without worrying about/expecting certain reactions or approval for self-assurance.” -Nicole 

“One of the things Mrs. Mamalakis mentioned that stuck with me was that we should “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” I think that’s something I struggle with. I might do something nice for someone, but there are times when I’m thinking about how I don’t want to be doing it or what better things I have to do. This is something I need to work on, so that’s what I’m going to try in order to better cultivate hospitality.” -Jane

I had a realization the other day that absolutely blew my mind- maybe y’all have already mentioned or thought about this. The whole topic of hospitality has had such an impact on me in that I think it’s really the basis of the faith- you can’t trust, grow, or cultivate love without being hospitable to at least someone- Christ, your neighbor, or yourself. And I realized the absolute epitome of this is the Theotokos!!! She LITERALLY allowed the Holy Spirit inside of her and allowed Christ to dwell and be born in her, and then continued to give Him a place to lay his head, like Mrs. Mamalakis talked about. We are all called to be “God-bearers”, and since the Theotokos literally bore God, she is the perfect example of hospitality. -Nicole

 

Module 3: Cultivating A Spirit of Service, led by Katrina Bitar

We discussed barriers to serving, how service is about people instead of projects, and decompartmentalizing service. One of the questions covered was, “What are your thoughts on this quote from John Chrysostom: ‘Need alone is a poor man’s worthiness’?”

“This quote boils down all of the societal dynamics around service and giving to its key component: meet a need. No other factor should matter. We should not appoint ourselves judge over a poor man to try and determine whether or not his needs meet our standards. There is only one judge, God, and He is the only one who should judge. If a beggar is lying or deceitful about his need, then God will judge him, but if we don’t show him love and service, God will judge us. We must multiply the mercy God gives us constantly.” -Chase

“This quote perfectly anticipates the response of a hardened heart. Living in a big city, it is easy to become numb or even blind to the poverty and suffering around you. I could easily pass the same homeless man under the same bridge every day and think nothing of it. I love how, in the video and this quote, there is a focus on the softening of the heart and coming to realize our mutual humanity and share in the responsibility of clothing and feeding the poor. I also struggle with making excuses like “there are shelters for that” or “maybe it’s not safe.” But this is indicative of a hardened heart-this shrugs responsibility and places blame on others, caring only for oneself. This quote is humbling in just the right way.” – Cassidy

“Need alone is a poor man’s worthiness” A-MEN. It has taken me a while to truly understand this concept. The houseless in Louisville are often viewed with scorn and are often passed by. It is if not living up to the American Dream of Prosperity, with a house and happy family and a steady job, is a secular sin.” -Elijah

 

Thank you to everyone who has helped to create this beautiful community! Our course still has a few more weeks, and I look forward to learning more in our discussions and zoom calls.

Also, apply for the Student Leadership Board!! Engaging in fulfilling work and gaining friends who have become family has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. You could be a part of this community, too! Learn more about how to apply HERE.

Anna Spencer

is a senior at Kansas State University studying Nutrition & Health. She loves getting to know people, reading, traveling, eating good food, and anything outdoors (if it is not cold). She is Real Break Student Leader this year and is so grateful for the course she has been able to create and the people she has met through OCF programming!

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Begins National Search for Communications Manager and Ministry Coordinator

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Begins National Search for Communications Manager and Ministry Coordinator

BROOKLINE, MA, April 8, 2021–Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is seeking qualified candidates to apply for two full-time positions as part of their national ministry team: a Communications Manager and a Ministry Coordinator. Candidates should be Orthodox Christians in good standing with their parish/jurisdiction who are interested in furthering the mission of OCF to provide opportunities for college students to encounter Christ. Full job descriptions and applications can be found at www.ocf.net/join-our-team. Inquiries about these positions or recommendations can be directed to Executive Director, Dn. Marek Simon at marek@ocf.net

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States and serves as the official campus ministry for the twelve (12) Orthodox Christian jurisdictions that the Assembly represents. Its mission is to transform the lives of college students by guiding them along the path to Jesus Christ through His Church, cultivating a campus community of worship, witness, service, fellowship, and education.

Support OCF

OCF March 2021 Highlights

march 2021

OCF is here

providing college students with more opportunities to encounter Jesus Christ through programs, resources, and fellowship with one another.

Presenting

Spiritual Wake-Up

Launched on March 16th, the new Spiritual Wake-Up program creates a community of prayer within OCF where students can grow and learn together throughout the Lenten season. 

Throughout Lent, registered students will wake up to a text containing a prayer, quote, or journaling prompt which 100 other students, any number of miles away, also receive! Students are also paired up with prayer partners for the duration of the program. 

The goal of the program is to connect students to each other and Christ with resources for growth, reflection, and a purposeful wake-up each day throughout the Lenten season.

applications are open for the

OCF STUDENT LEADERSHIP BOARD

Every year, OCF is led by a team of talented students who take on leadership positions in Orthodox campus ministry. The SLB works with staff and clergy volunteers to implement the programs of OCF, advise and inspire their peers on campuses, and develop new resources and programs for college students.

Why Apply?

Peggy

Peggy

Rice University

“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!!!”

Remy

Remy

Rutgers University

“SLB has made me a better student, friend, Orthodox Christian, and individual! 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!” 

Anna

Anna

Kansas State University

“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! Every person puts their whole heart into their work and wants to create a beautiful experience for their fellow students.”

OCF March 2021 Blogs

OCF March 2021 Highlights

providing college students with more opportunities to encounter Jesus Christ through programs, resources, and fellowship with one another.Presenting Spiritual Wake-UpLaunched on March 16th, the new Spiritual Wake-Up program creates a community of prayer within OCF...

Unexpected Blessings on the Student Leadership Board

Unexpected Blessings on the Student Leadership Board

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. 

April District Retreats

Students coming together with their peers for a day of fellowship, learning, service, and prayer. 

chicago

columbus to lexington

Follow us to stay up-to-date on all OCF happenings!

OCF February 2021 Highlights

february 2021

OCF's Spring Semester is well underway!

real break now

 

The newly launched Real Break Now program is in session! This year, Real Break is being offered as a virtual course on how to be the Church in the world. Students will grow in community with like-minded peers while learning from incredible examples of the Orthodox Christian faith. Upon completion of the program, students will have an opportunity to apply for a $1000 grant to impact their community!

spiritual wake up

 

New program alert!

Spiritual Wake-Up aims to create a community of prayer within OCF where students can grow and learn together throughout the Lenten season. This program will create the opportunity for an entire community to participate in the same activities on the same days and sometimes even at the same time, while each student is still completely immersed in their own environment!

Registration is still open for Spiritual Wake Up. Share the link below with a college student you know!

 

The Byzantine Chant Appreciation video series continued in February with Plagal First Tone.

February featured two student-submitted blog posts centered on the theme of “hope.”

Real Break Now: How it came to be. How it’s going. How to be the church in the world.

Real Break Now: How it came to be. How it’s going. How to be the church in the world.

After serving in Romania on Real Break 2020, I applied to be Real Break Student Leader for the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. I wanted to help create other service opportunities for students. What a whirlwind of a year! Back in early Fall 2020, we did not know how long the Pandemic would last (2 weeks, until Pascha, two semesters, a year?). We kept running into barriers in planning. We did our best trying to navigate traveling precautions as well as most schools canceling their spring breaks. As the year progressed it became obvious that a traditional Real Break would not happen. To be completely honest, this was frustrating and disappointing. I found myself nervous that I would not be able to do the work of my position on the Student Leadership Board. However trying this time was, it was fruitful nonetheless!

Unexpected Blessings on the Student Leadership Board

Unexpected Blessings on the Student Leadership Board

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. 

Small Groups

February 1-April 11, 2021

Virtual small groups provide an intimate setting for students to connect with each other, check in, reflect, and be a source of Christ’s comfort and love. Groups of 4-7 students are facilitated virtually by trained OCF Student Leadership Board alumni and gather weekly.

District Day Retreats

Spring 2021

In-person District Retreats are happening this spring! Each District Retreat is a day long schedule including learning, fellowship, and discussion. COVID guidelines are followed at each gathering.

OCF’s very own Director of Ministries, Christina Andresen hosts a weekly podcast, “Sirach, Meech, & Teens” on Ancient Faith Radio. 

Christina Andresen (Teens) and Dimitri (Meech) Gagianas reflect on living the wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach. Students can listen in on their walk to class, morning drive, or a Bible study with their OCF. This podcast offers practical advice for being faithful to God in any situation.

spots are still available for…

Day of Prayer

March 14-15, 2021

Students can join OCF for a 24-hour prayer marathon to kick of Great Lent! Starting at 6pm on Forgiveness Sunday and culminating at 6pm on Clean Monday, OCF chapters across the nation will live stream their chapters praying the hours and commemorating all OCFers across the country.

Follow us to stay up-to-date on all OCF happenings!

OCF January 2021 Highlights

January 2021

A New Year of Orthodox Christian Campus Ministry

 

January was an exciting month at OCF!

We are thrilled to welcome college students back after Christmas break and provide opportunities for them to encounter Jesus Christ as we begin a new year! 

Ocf presents

A New Year’s Series for College Students

It’s a new year! OCF kicked it off by creating a video series for our college students addressing some important questions.

 

  • How can we step into 2021 with a perspective that’s directing us towards the Kingdom?
  • What can we be certain of after a year of deep uncertainty?
  • What is some practical advice for resetting your perspective this year?  
i

Blog

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

OCF’s latest blog series featured submissions from students reflecting on the best advice they have ever received. Check them out below! 

Unexpected Blessings on the Student Leadership Board

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. 

Ask yourself: what brings me peace?

For me, stillness is often the answer. Psalm 46:10 tells us “Be still and know that I am God.” There is so much external noise and there always will be. Stillness provides a refuge from the noise and the distraction. Because we are all created uniquely, stillness can look different for each one of us. A priest once told me, “do what brings you closer to God.” He didn’t give me a recipe with all the ingredients and measurements. Instead, he encouraged me to listen to my heart and to trust myself. I mentioned to him that I love journaling at the beach to which he replied, “great! Do THAT!”

5 Ways to Practice Peace

St. Seraphim of Sarov tells us “Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved”

Practicing the faith is showing up for the practices and through these things becoming a source of harmony for the world and love for the people around us. Before we start this time of preparation let us first find ways to practice peace. 

What are some practical ways of practicing peace? Here are 5 methods of practicing peace I have learned over the years and constantly am trying to remind myself to practice: 

A WORD

From an OCF Student

“OCF has allowed me to connect with people my age that are faced with the same challenges and worries as I am, and helped me to create a network of Orthodox life-long friends all over the country.”

– Andreas

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Class of 2021 

Flex Chapter Guide

It’s here!  Created for advisors and student leaders to plan a spiritually-enriching year that prioritizes the health and well-being of students, parishes, and campus communities, the 2021 OCF Flex Chapter Guide serves to help navigate campus ministry during COVID-19. 

Psalm 40 and the Justice of God

After a Christmas break, Podcast Student Leader Marcus turns to Psalm 40 and St. Paisios to both meditate on God’s justice and righteousness and think about what happens when we lose sight of God in our human attempts for justice, equality, and mercy.

Calendar

Upcoming Events & Activities

01

February

Virtual Small Groups Begin

 

04

February

Real Break Now Kick-Off

 

19-20

February

Virtual Virginia District Event

 

13

March

Minnesota & Iowa District Event

 

14-15

March

Day of Prayer

 

15

March

Spiritual Wake-Up Kick-Off

 

Follow us to stay up-to-date on all OCF happenings!

OCF receives $25,000 Matching Grant Opportunity

OCF receives $25,000 Matching Grant Opportunity

50 Goddard Avenue – Brookline, MA 02445

Phone: 617.850.1227 | Fax: 617.850.1460

www.ocf.net | info@ocf.net

Contact: OCF National Office
office@ocf.net

Date: June 15, 2020

We’ve got good news!
OCF receives $25,000 Matching Grant Opportunity

BROOKLINE, MA — Over the past few months, we have all been faced with challenges that point to an uncertain future. However, in the midst of these challenges, OCF remains committed to building community, strengthening faith, and bringing Christ’s love to college students. Since March 2020, OCF has provided these new opportunities for college students:

  • Virtual discussion series on Fr. Thomas Hopko’s “55 Maxims for Christian Living”
  • Virtual chapel opportunities, including Compline, Paraklesis, and the Akathist of Thanksgiving
  • Virtual small groups facilitated by OCF alumni connecting students with their peers to discuss their faith and current experience
  • Lenten cooking videos
  • Holy Week video series connecting the pilgrimage sites of Real Break Jerusalem to the services of Holy Week
  • Graduation video series honoring the Class of 2020, featuring actor and musician Jonathan Jackson as keynote
  • Virtual series on racial reconciliation as Orthodox Christians (currently being offered in partnership with the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black and CrossRoad Summer Institute)
  • Virtual Summer Leadership Institute (beginning June 28)

OCF has been offered a tremendous opportunity for the faithful to support our college students. The Renaissance Fund has extended a $25,000 matching grant to OCF, where donations of up to $500 between June 15th and August 4th will be doubled if the $25,000 goal is met!

College students need us NOW. They want to live faithfully. They want to be engaged in their faith. They want their faith to engage them. OCF can only do this with the help of its supporters. 

Donations can be made at www.ocf.net/ocfnow

For more information about this matching grant opportunity please contact OCF Development Manager, Donna Levas at donna@ocf.net

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States and serves as the official campus ministry for the twelve (12) Orthodox Christian jurisdictions that the Assembly represents. Its mission is to transform the lives of college students by guiding them along the path to Jesus Christ through His Church, cultivating a campus community of worship, witness, service, fellowship, and education.*Matching Grant generously provided by The Renaissance Fund. A donation up to $500 will count towards the matching grant opportunity until the $25,000 match goal is met. For donors who gave in 2019 or 2020, donations will be matched if the amount given towards this campaign exceeds any previous 2019/2020 donation. This provides current donors with the opportunity to increase their support for OCF as well as invite friends to learn about and support OCF’s ministry.

Registration for the first-ever virtual OCF Summer Leadership Institute is now open!

Registration for the first-ever virtual OCF Summer Leadership Institute is now open!

50 Goddard Avenue – Brookline, MA 02445

Phone: 617.850.1227 | Fax: 617.850.1460

www.ocf.net | info@ocf.net

Contact: OCF National Office
office@ocf.net

Date: June 11, 2020

We’ve got good news!
Registration for the first-ever virtual OCF Summer Leadership Institute is now open!

SLI2019

BROOKLINE, MA — Orthodox Christian Fellowship’s Summer Leadership Institute will be offered from June 27 – August 9, 2020 as a six-week virtual leadership training course for college students and young adults (ages 18-25). Attendees can expect to learn what it means to be an Orthodox leader in OCF, the Church, and the world. This is the first-ever virtual offering of SLI and attendance is free of charge.

Various aspects of leadership will be explored through readings, short video lectures, interactive sessions with instructors, and weekly leadership breakouts. SLI 2020 will feature lectures led by OCF staff as well as experts in Orthodox theology, spirituality, and pastoral ministry to help prepare participants to be Christ-centered servant leaders. 

This year’s instructors will include John Meese, Entrepreneur & Dean of Platform University; Dr. Philip Mamalakis, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; Matthew Namee, General Counsel & COO of Orthodox Ministry Services & Founding Director of the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas; Christina Andresen, Director of Ministries for OCF; Donna Levas, Development Manager for OCF; and Fr. Panagiotis Boznos, pastor of Saint Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church in Aurora, Illinois. 

Emma, a former SLI Participant, had this to say, “During SLI, you grow as an Orthodox Christian not only by learning about your faith in the theological or doctrinal sense, but by harnessing essential life skills like public speaking, servant leadership, organization and planning, and conflict resolution and giving them back to the Church.”

Have questions regarding the program? Email studentleadership@ocf.net.

Registration is now open! Visit www.ocf.net/sli to sign up!

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States and serves as the official campus ministry for the twelve (12) Orthodox Christian jurisdictions that the Assembly represents. Its mission is to transform the lives of college students by guiding them along the path to Jesus Christ through His Church, cultivating a campus community of worship, witness, service, fellowship, and education.

A Letter from our Executive Director

March 17, 2020

Christ is in our midst!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. -Romans 12.12

As we experience an unprecedented situation and challenging times, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) can only begin to understand the current reality and its impact on college students and the world. Simply put, life as we know it has been turned upside down.

In the midst of uncertainty, confusion, sickness, distancing, and even isolation, we trust in one constant- the love of God. It is this love that propels us forward. It is this love that gives us hope.

Know that during this time, OCF remains committed to providing relevant and meaningful ministry for college students. Our staff recently explored the question, “Why does OCF exist?” The answer was unanimous, “To offer opportunities for college students to encounter Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Church.” It is to this end that our mission carries forward.

In the coming days and weeks, potentially even months, OCF Staff will continue to work with student leaders, advisors, our hierarchs, friends, and other ministry efforts to evolve our ministry given the current situation. We ask for your prayers as we discern, plan, and implement a purposeful & meaningful engagement for students, one that assists their journey on the path laid forth by Christ and His Church.

Let us accept challenges as opportunities, and let us each remain faithful to the message of the Gospel, the “Good News”, as we live in each moment in each day.

Yours in Christ,

Dn. Marek Simon

OCF Update Regarding COVID-19

After time spent in prayer and careful consideration, coupled with close monitoring of the Coronavirus outbreak, it has become clear it would be unwise and unsafe for OCF to continue with our scheduled Regional Retreats, District Events, and YES Days for the remainder of the spring semester. 

For those events with a registration fee, registrants will be refunded any fees already paid. Please reach out with any questions you might have.

We ask that you join us in prayer for those who are being affected, those who are in the medical profession, and those who are making decisions for the safety of our country.

“O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in thine ineffable goodness, look down upon us, thy people gathered in thy Holy Name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. Thou knowest our weakness. Thou hearest our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the Coronavirus. Send thine angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians and preserve those who are healthy. Enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we may glorify thy most honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.”

“We’ve Got Good News!” March 2020 Newsletter

“We’ve Got Good News!”

“As the new Executive Director of OCF, I share the above exclamation as OCF immerses itself into the present-day lives of college students and builds hope for the future. Simply put, we are both encouraged and excited for our work in this ministry in 2020 and beyond. Our efforts are focused on strengthening OCF to impact and nurture students in their faith as they journey through their college years.

As with any great cause, to achieve our aspirations will require a great amount of investment, from the Church as a whole and by individuals and organizations who wish to support OCF in our cause. I invite you to join us in our commitment and our endless pursuit to be the loving presence of Christ on college campuses and for college students.”

-Dn. Marek Simon, OCF Executive Director

We’ve got good news!  Applications for the 2020-2021 OCF Student Leadership Board are now open

We’ve got good news! Applications for the 2020-2021 OCF Student Leadership Board are now open

Each spring, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) selects a team of talented students to take on leadership positions in Orthodox campus ministry. The Student Leadership Board (SLB) works with staff and clergy volunteers to plan and implement the programs of OCF, advise and inspire their peers on campuses, and assist in the development of new resources and programs for Orthodox college students. OCF is currently seeking applicants for all positions for the 2020-2021 SLB.

Serving on the SLB offers students a unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills while growing in their faith and giving back to the Church. Current Student Leadership Board Chairman, Caroline Retzios, encourages any student who has been impacted by OCF to consider applying.

“OCF gives us so many opportunities to grow in our faith,” Retzios said. “If you desire to grow closer to Christ through service to your peers, build life-long friendships, and learn more about your faith, apply!”

As part of their training, SLB members will attend OCF’s Summer Leadership Institute.

Recommendations for applicants and questions may be directed to studentleadership@ocf.net.

Applications and are due MARCH 29, 2020.

OCF Hiring Part-Time Ministry Intern

OCF Hiring Part-Time Ministry Intern

Position Title:                                    OCF Ministry Intern

Reports To:                                         Director of Ministries

Closing Date for Applications:     February 5, 2020

Work Schedule:                                10 hours per week

Compensation:                                 $15.00 an hour 

Location:                                             Flexible

Mission:

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States and serves as the official campus ministry for the twelve (12) Orthodox Christian jurisdictions that the Assembly represents.  Its mission is to transform the lives of college students by guiding them along the path to Jesus Christ through His Church, cultivating a campus community of worship, witness, service, fellowship, and education.

Position Summary:

Located on the campus of Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, Massachusetts, and with a network that stretches across the country, OCF is seeking a Ministry Intern to support the work of the National Office.  The Ministry Intern will provide administrative assistance for all OCF programs, in addition to implementing administrative projects, maintaining databases, and providing staff support.

Responsibilities:

Database management

  • chapter, donor, student data input and maintenance
  • chapter outreach, including collection of chapter information and rosters
  • survey management
  • website updates

Programs & Events

  • assist with registration management
  • provide logistical assistance for national programs

Other

  • assist with public relations efforts
  • assist with content & resource output
  • administrative tasks as delegated

Experience & Qualifications:

  • Must display a growth mindset, team-first outlook and be motivated by a passion for young adult ministry
  • Reporting, Administrative Writing, Google Applications, Organization, Analyzing Information, Professionalism, Problem Solving, Verbal and Email Communication
  • Must be able and willing to work with and include individuals from diverse backgrounds and various Orthodox jurisdictions
  • Must be authorized and eligible to work in the United States

Application:

Applicants must provide:

1. An up-to-date resume 

2. A brief letter of interest regarding the position 

These items should be sent via email to Donna Levas at donna@ocf.net by February 5, 2020.

Applicants will be reviewed and contacted based upon the order of submitted applications and with a hope that the position will be filled as quickly as possible with an anticipated start date of February 17, 2020.

Disclaimer:

This job description indicates, in general, the nature and levels of work, knowledge, skills, abilities, and other essential functions (as covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act) expected of an incumbent. It is not designed to include or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties, or responsibilities required of an incumbent. An incumbent may be asked to perform other tasks as needed.

OCF Trains Young Leaders at the Summer Leadership Institute 2019

OCF Trains Young Leaders at the Summer Leadership Institute 2019

BROOKLINE, MA — Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, conducted another successful Summer Leadership Institute last month at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, WI. This year, OCF equipped 44 Orthodox Christian college students with the knowledge, skills, and practices they need to be young Orthodox leaders in OCF, the Church, and the world.

SLI 2019 featured workshops led by OCF staff and student leaders, as well as experts in Orthodox theology, spirituality, and pastoral ministry – helping prepare participants to be Christ-centered servant leaders. In addition to the OCF staff, this year’s speakers included Fr. Panagiotis Boznos, Christian Gonzalez, Anna Kallis, Fr. Philip LeMasters, Matthew Namee, Jonathan Pageau, and Fr. Brendan Pelphrey.

Focusing on how our common Orthodox tradition is at the core of servant leadership, SLI serves students from various educational and jurisdictional backgrounds. Dimitri Gagianas, a senior biomedical engineering student at Ohio State University from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, shared how SLI impacted him this year:

“SLI is an experience you can’t get anywhere else. It allowed me to explore high-level theological concepts and discuss them with students my own age. I especially benefited from Jonathan Pageau who provided us a deeper understanding of symbolism in our society, culture, and faith and how this symbolism finds its truest expression in the Church. Being able to think deeply about theology and ministry at SLI has impacted how I will serve in my role as an OCF leader.”

The newly-appointed OCF Executive Director, Dn. Marek Simon, was in attendance throughout the week and offered the following reflection about SLI:

“The Summer Leadership Institute was a wonderful gathering of Orthodox Christian college students seeking to learn more about their faith, engage with Orthodox leaders and fellow peers on significant topics, and develop their leadership skills as young adults.”

Prior to the official start of the Summer Leadership Institute, the seventeen-member OCF Student Leadership Board met for three days to make plans for the events, programs, and resources they will implement in the 2019-2020 academic year. Their work is central to the ministry of OCF and was highlighted throughout SLI, where attending students were given opportunities to learn from and serve under the Student Leadership Board members.

Summer Leadership Institute 2019 was made possible, in part, by a generous grant from National Philoptochos and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. For more information about Summer Leadership Institute visit www.ocf.net/sli. For further questions and inquiries, please email studentleadership@ocf.net.

OCF transforms the lives of college students in the United States and Canada by guiding them along the path to Jesus Christ through His Church, cultivating a campus community of worship, witness, service, fellowship and education. OCF encourages you to learn more and to support the ongoing work of this vital ministry by visiting OCF’s redesigned website (www.ocf.net) or emailing the OCF National Office (info@ocf.net).

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Selects Deacon Marek Simon as Executive Director



Brookline, MA – Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF)—the official college ministry for all twelve (12) jurisdictions of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops—has named Rev. Deacon Marek Simon as Executive Director. He will begin his tenure on September 16, 2019. Dn. Marek will be formally introduced to the dozens of student leaders attending OCF’s Summer Leadership Institute being held August 14-17 at St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, WI.
Deacon Marek with his wife, Allison, and two sons – Elias and Luke. 
After graduating from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 2001, Dn. Marek has been serving at Antiochian Village Camp since 2002, where he oversees the development and advancement efforts of the camp. He also serves as supervisor of the camp’s staff and manages its team-building ropes course program. During this time, Dn. Marek remained committed to campus ministry, serving as the advisor for OCF’s Student Leadership Board from 2005-2009. “I first learned about the scope of OCF’s work in 2002, and now I am both excited and honored to focus my efforts in hopes of advancing the mission, vision, and goals of OCF,” said Dn. Marek, speaking of his long history and bright future with OCF. “I am passionate about working with young people as they navigate their journey into adulthood, experience college, explore vocation, and seek to grow in their faith. I look forward to working with the staff of OCF, college students, clergy, lay leaders, and other Orthodox ministries to share the Good News of Christ throughout our college communities,” he added. Deacon Marek’s hiring is a significant part of the growth and restructuring of the organization currently being conducted by OCF’s Board of Directors. “On behalf of our dedicated staff and the students we serve, I look forward to working with Dn. Marek as a fellow colleague in realizing the Board’s vision of bringing Christ in His fullness to the college campus,” said Dn. Alexander Cadman, Board Chairman. OCF transforms the lives of college students in the United States and Canada by guiding them along the path to Jesus Christ through His Church, cultivating a campus community of worship, witness, service, fellowship and education. You can learn more about the ongoing work of this vital ministry by visiting ocf.net or emailing info@ocf.net.

OCF Announces Launch of Its Annual First Forty Days Campaign



Brookline, MA – Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, announces the launch of its annual First Forty Days campaign—a Churchwide partnership of OCF and each Assembly Member’s youth department to connect students to Christ and His Church during college. With the blessing and encouragement of His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa, OCF’s Episcopal Liaison to the Assembly of Bishops, all parishes are invited to participate in the First Forty Days Initiative. By submitting student contact information directly to OCF, parents and parishes can be assured that their students will be contacted by local OCF leaders within the first forty days of the academic year, providing them opportunities to make Christ and His Church central to their life on campus. During the first six weeks of their time on campus, college students form the relationships and habits that last their entire college career. So that it is the Church that becomes a foundation for their college experience, First Forty Days ensures that every student becomes connected to an OCF chapter and a local parish within this time period. Parents, parishes, and youth program coordinators can submit student contact information for their graduating high school seniors at www.ocf.net/firstfortydays. All student information submitted by July 15, 2019 will be distributed appropriately in advance of the fall semester. Each student’s contact information will remain private and shared only with the appropriate local and regional OCF leaders. Please contact OCF at firstfortydays@ocf.net with any questions regarding this important effort. OCF transforms the lives of college students in the United States and Canada by guiding them along the path to Jesus Christ through His Church, cultivating a campus community of worship, witness, service, fellowship and education. You can learn more about the ongoing work of these vital ministries by visiting ocf.net or emailing info@ocf.net.

2019-2020 Student Leadership Board Applications are now open!

2019-2020 Student Leadership Board Applications are now open!

Every year, OCF selects a team of talented students to take on leadership positions in Orthodox campus ministry. The Student Leadership Board (SLB) works with staff and clergy volunteers to plan and implement the programs of OCF, advise and inspire their peers on campuses, and develop new resources and programs for Orthodox college students. OCF is currently seeking applicants for all positions for the 2019-2020 Student Leadership Board.

Serving on the SLB offers students a unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills while growing in their faith and giving back to the Church. Current Student Leadership Board Chairman, Caroline Mellekas, encourages any student who has been impacted by OCF to consider applying, “If you feel affected by the mission of OCF and called to carry it through offering your own gifts, then this is what’s next for you.”

As part of their training, SLB members will attend OCF’s Summer Leadership Institute free of charge! Additionally, SLB members will receive priority registration for College Conference and Real Break. Recommendations for applicants and questions can be directed at studentleadership@ocf.netApplications are due MARCH 29, 2019.

New $200 Need-Based Scholarships Now Available for College Conference Midwest 2018

BROOKLINE, MA — Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, is pleased to announce that new $200 need-based scholarships for College Conference Midwest 2018 are now available, made possible by two generous donors.

The registration cost for College Conference Midwest is $325 per person. The $200 scholarship would lower the cost of registration to $125 for selected applicants. Registration includes food, lodging, fellowship activities, and engaging keynote addresses and workshop sessions.

To complete or share the Scholarship Application visit:  https://goo.gl/forms/qRv9J3h12w7CIRIp1

OCF’s College Conference Midwest will be held from December 27-30, 2018 at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, WI. The 2018 Conference Theme is “Who Do You Say That I Am?” Fr. Barnabas Powell, parish priest at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming, GA and sole author and contributor of Faith Encouraged Ministries, will serve as the Keynote Speaker (https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/faithencouraged/about/).

For more information about College Conference Midwest 2018, the scholarships, or to register, visit http://www.ocf.net/events/college-conference-midwest-2018/In addition, please feel free to contact OCF’s National Programs Manager, Donna Levas for more information:  donna@ocf.net or (617) 850-1227.