Walk in the Light

College Conference 2023

December 27 – 30, 2023

College Conference Midwest
St. Iakovos Retreat Center
Kansasville, WI

College Conference East
Antiochian Village
Bolivar, PA

College Conference 2023

Do you ever feel your faith is overshadowed by darkness?

Walk in the Light

Do you ever feel your faith is overshadowed by darkness? Or the world is so distracting that it obscures the Light of Christ? What will you choose? To embrace Christ? Or dwell in the darkness? OCF invites you to face these decisions in the upcoming academic year, as we strive together to Walk in the Light. “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:20-21) So where are you going to start? This is your invitation to flourish spiritually, intellectually, and personally. Come, walk in the Light of Christ this December at College Conference. Registration is open now, through December 1st.

The Team


Fr. Gabriel Bilas

Fr. Gabriel and his wife Matushka Laura, along with their 4 children, have been serving at the parish of St. Mary Magdalene since 2016. A graduate of St. Tikhons seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood in 2015 after 10 years working in finance for J.P Morgan Chase.

Fr. Gabriel’s favorite thing to do is to travel. He organizes pilgrimages for his parish to Mt. Athos, Jerusalem, and monasteries throughout the eastern United States. It is through many of these experiences, witnessing miracles and venerating incredible relics, that his love for Christ and the Church continues to grow.

Fr. Gabriel’s favorite Saint is St. Paisios of Mt. Athos. He loves the way the Saint uses everyday imagery to explain the spiritual life to the faithful in a simple way…a trait that Fr. Gabriel has tried to emulate in his ministry.

The Prisoner of the Lord: True Freedom

College Conference East

Fr. Nathaniel Choma

After many years of prayer, training, education, spiritual formation and development, Fr. Nathaniel was ordained to the Holy Priesthood through the Ancient Rite of the Laying on of Hands by His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Warren Ohio, on September 30, 2018.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio and a life-long member of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church of Warren, Ohio where he faithfully served as an altar server, reader, and subdeacon for many years, Fr. Nathaniel is a 2018 graduate of Christ The Saviour Seminary. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication from Kent State University.

Fr. Nathaniel and his wife, Pani Nicole, who were married on April 28th of 2018, began their ministry at St Mary’s Church in Endicott, NY on October 15th, 2018. They welcomed their first child, Euphemia, in 2021 and their second child, Sabina, this past August!

Bearing with One Another: Glimpses of the Kingdom

College Conference East

Phoebe Farag Mikhail

Phoebe Farag Mikhail is the author of Putting Joy into Practice: Seven Ways to Lift Your Spirit from the Early Church (2019, Paraclete Press) and the forthcoming Hunger for Righteousness: A Lenten Journey Towards Intimacy with God and Loving our Neighbor (2025, Paraclete Press). She has contributed to the anthology Darkness is as Light (Park End Press, 2020), and to the essay collection Many Women Were Also There: The Participation of Orthodox Women in the Ecumenical Movement (World Council of Churches/Volos Academy). She is a recipient of the Sacred Writes Public Scholarship on Religion fellowship and her writing has appeared in publications such as Plough, Christianity Today, Faithfully Magazine, Sojourners, Faith and Leadership, and Talking Writing. She blogs at Being in Community, where she also features guest posts from a diversity of contributors. She’s on Instagram, Twitter and Blusky at @pkfarag. She currently serves at St. Antonious & St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in East Rutherford, NJ with her husband, Fr. Bishoy Mikhail and their three children while attending seminary classes at Pope Shenouda III Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary. She is on the board of the Michelle Sous Foundation, trains teachers on McGraw Hill academic curricula and teaches academic writing and research at various universities.

College Conference East

Georgia Mamalakis

Georgia and her husband Philip have been married for 30 years!! Together they love caring for and raising their seven children, as well as welcoming and giving hospitality to students and families in their community at Holy Cross Hellenic College where they reside in Boston, MA.

Georgia is very active in womens ministries. She has been facilitating women’s groups for the 30 years of her marriage and mentoring women throughout that time. She strongly believes that taking time to read, pray, and connect spiritually and emotionally with other women is life-transforming and miraculous in every phase of life and vocation we may find ourselves in.

Georgia’s life experience and loves are diverse! She homeschooled her seven children for many years, makes frequent pilgrimages to women’s monasteries, is an avid reader of spiritual books, and has spoke at various retreats, conferences, and parishes throughout North America. She is a lover of the Twelve Steps and strongly appreciates connecting the Twelve Step model and Orthodox Spirituality.

Unity of the Spirit: Living as One Body

College Conference East

Fr. Seraphim Ramos

Fr. Seraphim is the associate pastor of St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY. Fr. Seraphim went on to pursue and complete his Master of Divinity at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and graduated in the Spring of 2017. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate the day after graduation in Boston on May 21, 2017 at the Holy Cross Chapel by His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, and then to the Holy Priesthood a few weeks later in Las Vegas at the Parish of St. John the Baptist on June 18, 2017. Fr. Seraphim and his wife Presvytera Olenka have four children.

The Ramos family enjoys many activities in their free time: hiking together with their dog Jordan, Pickle Ball, board games, sports, puzzles, reading, and dinners with guests.

Bearing with One Another: Canceling Cancel Culture

College Conference Midwest

Abbess Aemiliane

Abbess Aemiliane, of the Sacred Monastery of St. Nina, in Union Bridge, MD, is a native Kansan. While doing her doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she encountered Orthodoxy and monasticism. The day after her graduation from Harvard she left for Greece to be baptized and became a nun. She was the first of the original Sisters of the Monastery of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Thebes, Greece, with its founding Abbess, Eldress Diodora.

In 2012, she returned to the United States and helped established the Sacred Monastery of Saint Nina under the omophorion of Metropolitan Dimitri of Batumi, then ruling Hierarch of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church in North America, with Nun Aemiliane as Abbess.

Longsuffering: The Cross of Love

College Conference Midwest

Fr. Justin Patterson

Fr. Justin has been an Orthodox Christian priest since 2005 and pastor of St. Athanasius since 2006. Originally a native of Jacksonville, Florida, he joined the Orthodox Church as a college student at the University of Florida in the late 1990s. He met his wife, Tamara, in a Russian history class at the university and she also became Orthodox through the ministry of the Orthodox College Fellowship (OCF) in Gainesville.

Fr. Justin’s priestly formation includes one year (2002-2003) at St. Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania and two years (2003-2005) at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York. He and Matushka Tamara both graduated from St. Vladimir’s in 2005 with their MDiv and MA, respectively. The Pattersons have two sons, John-Patrick (b. 2004) and Ian (b. 2007.)

Since December 2006, Fr. Justin has served as pastor of St. Athanasius Orthodox Church (at that time a “mission” but now a “parish”) in Nicholasville, Kentucky, as part of the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America. In the years he has served St. Athanasius, Fr. Justin was able to shepherd the community through a building program, from a storefront-type existence into a proper church.

Lowliness & Gentleness: A Gateway to Authenticity

College Conference Midwest

Steven Christoforou

Steven Christoforou is Director of Operations & Community Engagement for FOCUS North America. A graduate of Yale University, Fordham University School of Law, and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Steve is passionate about helping people see and serve Christ in their neighbor.

Steve spent 9 years as the founder and leader of Y2AM and is perhaps best known for his work on “Be the Bee,” “Pop Culture Coffee Hour,” and “Effective Christian Ministry.” In his current role with FOCUS, Steve is working to expand programs and capacity to reach more people with life-saving food, occupation, clothing, understanding, and shelter. He’s leading the development of new local outreach initiatives and, God willing, the establishment of new FOCUS Centers across the country.

Unity of the Spirit: Living as One Body

College Conference Midwest


Any questions?


When and where does College Conference 2023 take place?

College Conference takes place from December 27-30th, 2023 in two locations: East at Antiochian Village in Bolivar, Pennsylvania, and Midwest at St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, Wisconsin.

Are scholarships available?

All registrants must pay a non-refundable $100 deposit to secure their spot at College Conference 2023. The remaining balance of $285 may be fully or partially covered by a scholarship. Scholarship applications will be open from September 9-October 31, 2023 and will be awarded based on need on a rolling basis. Additionally, students may apply for up to $300 in travel scholarship to cover the cost of a flight. Once a travel scholarship amount is approved, the recipient must submit their flight receipt to be reimbursed the full amount of the scholarship or the full amount of the flight, whichever is less. Travel reimbursements will be distributed after the conference in January.

Scholarships are now closed.

Where can I find the scholarship application?

Scholarships are now closed.

Can I get a refund if I need to cancel my registration?

In the event a participant needs to cancel his/her registration for the College Conference program, all cancellations must be submitted via email communication no later than December 15, 2023, to OCF’s Ministry Intern, Ivy Gabriella Tesfay at ivygabriella@ocf.net.

Upon notice of cancellation, any scholarship will be forfeited. Payments, excluding the deposit, will be refunded to the participant on the original form of payment. Refunds will not be issued for requests made after December 15, 2023, at 11:59 PM ET.

Students have the option to add Purchase Protection to their registration which may help facilitate a late refund in the event of unforeseen circumstances preventing them from attending College Conference such as death, health emergencies, crime, transportation failure, and more. To learn more about this option, visit here. Please note that Purchase Protection is offered through a third party and that OCF is not responsible for the actions, decisions, or refunds processed by them.

When is the deadline to pay my full balance?
All remaining balances are due on December 1st.
If I’m not a college student, will there be relevant content for me at College Conference?

The content of College Conference is based in the Orthodox Christian tradition, which is applicable to any person at any point in their life. While the conference is targeted towards college students, much of the core content will be relevant for anyone looking to learn more about the faith and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

How are roommates assigned?
Roommates will be assigned by the OCF staff prior to each conference. A roommate request can be submitted at the time of registration or at a later date by creating an account from the link in your confirmation email. For your roommate request to be honored, you must request only one roommate, and both roommates must request each other. Students may be assigned rooms where they do not know their roommate(s).
Does OCF provide first aid at College Conference?
Both conferences will have a medical professional on site at all times during the conference to assist in administering first aid should the need arise.
If I’m flying, how do I get to/from the airport?

OCF provides transportation to and from the airport for participants who book their flights according to our travel guidelines. Shuttle times are as follows:

College Conference East
Pittsburgh International Airport shuttle @ 3 PM
Johnstown Train Station shuttle @ 4 PM

College Conference Midwest
Chicago O’Hare International Airport shuttle @ 4:30 PM

All shuttles depart the retreat centers at noon on the 30th.

How much does College Conference cost?

Registration is $385 per student for students registering by October 31, 2023. The price will increase to $400 for any students registering between November 1-December 1, 2023.

What does my registration cover?
Registration covers all lodging, meals, speakers, and activities for the duration of the conference. Participants are responsible for transportation to the conference including the cost of any flights or funds they may want for personal use during travel or the conference. Need-based scholarships are available on a first-come-first-serve basis which can cover up to the remaining registration cost and some or all travel expenses. See the scholarship section above for more information.
How can I pay my balance?

Registrants can create an account and log in to the registration from the link found in their confirmation email to pay their remaining balances. All remaining balances must be paid in full by December 1, 2023. Balances that are not paid in full by this date will automatically be charged to the original form of payment.

If I’ve already graduated college, can I still attend?

College Conference is designed for students, ages 18-25. If you’ve graduated but are within the age range, yes, you can still register.

Can I just stop by at the conference? Can my friends stop by the conference?

Unfortunately, the College Conference program cannot accommodate unexpected visitors. If someone would like to visit the conference, please have him or her contact the OCF National Office in advance of the conference so that the request can be considered on a case-by-case basis, and if approved, appropriate accommodations can be arranged. Visitors will be expected to pay a “day” rate for their attendance. No visitors may stay overnight in a participant’s room. Conference badges are required to be worn at all times by participants and visitors to all events.

Can food allergies / dietary restrictions be accommodated?
Most food allergies and dietary restrictions will be accommodated if they are made known to us through the registration form.
What time should I arrive / depart?
Participants who are driving to the conference should plan to arrive between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM local time on Wednesday, December 27th, 2022 and depart after brunch on Saturday, December 30th, 2022. Participants who are flying MUST book flights within the designated times at the designated airports as specified in the registration travel policy specific to their conference. If you are unable to book your flights within these windows, you will be responsible for your own transportation to and from the retreat center.
What should I pack?

A more detailed packing list will be sent out before the conference to each registrant, but here are some essentials:

  • Casual clothing for four days, including a liturgy
  • Personal toiletries
  • Bedding (Midwest only)
  • Talent show items (instruments, props, poetry, etc.)
  • Personal prayer items (Bible, prayer book, prayer rope, etc.)

Registration closes on December 1.


College Conference Midwest

St. Iakovos Retreat Center
920 224th Ave.
Kansasville, WI 53139

College Conference East

Antiochian Village
140 Church Camp Trail
Bolivar, PA 15923