So where did you go? Who went with you? For how long were you there? What were you doing there?
I attended College Conference Midwest at the Saint Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, Wisconsin. A few of us carpooled from the Chicagoland area up north to the retreat center, which was an adventure of its own. I went with some close friends and a couple new ones. We all formed a tight bond right off the bat.
We stayed at the retreat center for five days, conducting various activities, services, discussions and opportunities to form lasting friendships with others. Each day was different, while still focusing on the main theme: Come and See. I thought that the organization was flawless, which made it really easy for everyone involved to enjoy themselves.
Why did you decide to go? Had you been there before? Was it a tough decision to go on to College Conference over your winter break? Why or why not?
I was actually provoked by the Chairman of CC Midwest, Peter Savas, to attend. He and I serve at the same church, Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church, in Westchester, Illinois, and he thought I would enjoy myself at the conference.
I have actually been to the Saint Iakovos Retreat Center many times before. Different groups from my church visit regularly, and I was also involved with Fanari, a summer camp, as a counselor this past summer. The retreat center is a beautiful piece of land that truly provides an escape from society. Deciding to attend CC Midwest was the easiest decision I made all Christmas break. I knew that it would be worth it, and I was not disappointed.
Okay, first day: what were your first impressions? Did your expectations of the conference match the reality?
The first day was great! Personally, I enjoy meeting new people and sharing stories. This is basically what the first day was all about. Everyone was so personable and easy to get along with which really set the mood for the rest of the week.
Give me a highlight: a moment you’ll never be able to forget.
We were blessed enough to venerate a myrrh-flowing Icon of the Gate-Bearing Virgin Mary. After a brief service, we all venerated the icon and were anointed with the myrrh. Every opportunity that I have been fortunate enough to venerate relics or myrrh-flowing icons has been a blessing, but this particular opportunity was especially enjoyable.
How about a session, too: one that will stick with you forever.
Every session conducted by the clergy was great. If I had to choose one, I would say that Father Gabriel’s session regarding how to live sacramentally was the most impactful. He discussed how we, as Orthodox Christians, must be lighthouses to others. We must show the way, be fishers of men, and bring those in darkness to the light. It was a very powerful session, and I am confident that it will stick with me.
What are some things that happen at College Conference that could never happen anywhere else? Are these things important/impactful? Why or why not?
The Saint Iakovos Retreat Center has a hidden gem. Within the woods, walking trails lead to over fourteen Proskinitarion. Each one contains an icon of a saint of the Orthodox Faith with a summary of his or her life. After our dance on the final night, everyone bundled up in their sweatshirts, gloves, hats, coats, and snow boots in order to walk the knee-deep snowy path. Even though it was brutally cold, I believe everyone enjoyed the experience. I feel that this is unique to the Saint Iakovos Retreat Center. It was extremely impactful simply because we all learned more about our faith by growing closer together as a group.
What was the most valuable thing this conference gave to you, and why is it so valuable?
This conference provided me with a fresh start. There was an opportunity to confess before Christ towards the end of the week. Given the fact that the conference took place before the New Year, it was a great way to confess one’s sins and start 2017 on the right foot. The opportunity to do this during such an impactful week was extremely valuable to me.
Would you do it again? Why should another student do College Conference?
I would attend College Conference again in a heartbeat. It was one of the best weeks of my life, hands down. College Conference Midwest was my first experience with anything related to OCF. It is a shame that it took me over half of my college career to find out about this wonderful foundation. However, it is better late than never! If you are a college student looking for fellowship, centered on beliefs that are shared with individuals just like you, then I highly recommend getting involved with OCF. If there is not a chapter at your college, START ONE! Think of how cool it would be to say that you were fortunate enough to start something that will certainly give others so much joy–pretty cool if you ask me.
Anything else you want to share? Advice, recommendations, experiences, memories, jokes?
I wish I had a joke, but I’m not very funny.
Hey, my name is Jeremy Glavanovits. I am a junior at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, pursuing a degree in Psychology with a concentration in pre-Physical Therapy. I plan on attending a graduate school in the area to obtain by Doctorate in Physical Therapy upon graduating from Benedictine in May of 2018–graduation cannot come soon enough! There is not an active OCF at my school; however, I am working with a few individuals to start one! I am very excited about this opportunity.