College Conference 2021

College Conference is an annual four-day gathering of college students (ages 18 – 25) from all over the country to grow in fellowship, dive deeper into their faith through speakers and workshops around the conference theme, worship together, and serve! College Conference takes place December 27-30 in two locations: East & Midwest.

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Locations:

Midwest

St. Iakovos Retreat Center

Kansasville, WI

East

Antiochian Village

Bolivar, PA

Conference Theme & Keynote:

“Lord, It Is Good for Us to Be Here”

From Mt 17:1-8 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

The College Conference 2021 keynote will be centered around the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. We’ll explore what happened at the Transfiguration and why it matters, how transfiguration is an experience in which we can take part, and how can we apply Peter’s desire to remain on the mountain to our experience at College Conference. You’ll leave College Conference 2021 ready to take the light of the Transfiguration back to your life on campus.

Keynote Speakers:

Midwest

The Most Reverend Paul
Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest

Read Archbishop Paul's Bio

Archbishop Paul was born in 1953 to Nicholas and Georgia Gassios, natives of Castanea, Greece.  He, his parents, and his sister Agatha lived in Detroit until their move to the suburbs in 1973.

As an infant, he was baptized with the name Apostolos, in honor of the holy Apostle Paul, at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Detroit, MI—his home parish for the first 28 years of his life.

He graduated from Detroit’s Cooley High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, in 1971, after which he enrolled in Wayne State University as a history and psychology major.  After his graduation in 1976, he worked with emotionally and physically abused children.  He furthered his education at Wayne State, from which he received a Master of Social Work degree in 1980, and continued to work in his chosen field.

In the mid-1980s, he became a member of Holy Transfiguration Church, Livonia, MI.  He began theological studies in September 1991 at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, from which he received his Master of Divinity degree summa cum laude and served as valedictorian in 1994.  He was ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence, the late Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest, on June 25, 1994.

After ordination, he was assigned Priest-in-Charge of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, Kokomo, IN, which he served until June 2005, after which he resided at Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery, Hayesville, OH until May 2006.  He briefly served as Rector of Archangel Michael Church, St. Louis, MO and the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Church, Desloge, MO before his transfer to the OCA’s Bulgarian Diocese and assignment as Dean of Saint George Cathedral, Rossford, OH in 2007.  In August 2014, he was named Administrator of the Diocese of the Midwest and relocated to Chicago.

On October 20, 2014, he was tonsured to monastic rank with the name Paul, in honor of Saint Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople.  On October 21, 2014, the Holy Synod elected him to fill the vacant Episcopal See of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest.

Archimandrite Paul was consecrated to the Episcopacy and enthroned as Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest at Chicago’s historic Holy Trinity Cathedral on Saturday, December 27, 2014.  Concelebrating at the Consecration Liturgy were His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon; His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania; His Eminence, Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas; His Grace, Bishop Irénée of Ottawa and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey; His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese; and His Grace, Bishop David of Sitka and Alaska. On Thursday, May 28, 2020 he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.

East

Fr. James Shadid
Pastor, St. George Orthodox Christian Church (Houston, TX)

Read Fr. James' Bio

Fr. James, originally from Oklahoma City, OK, was reared in an Orthodox Christian home. (His grandfather, Economos Nayemtallah Shadid, served as a priest in the village of Marjeyoun, Lebanon). Fr. James studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of Oklahoma and continued his studies in Boston at Holy Cross Seminary, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. He also spent a year studying Arabic at the Balamand Theological Seminary in Lebanon.

On October 5, 2002 he married Gigi (Gizelle) Baba here at St. George. Fr. James possesses significant experience ministering to the youth of our Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America and our Archdiocese of North America, including service to youth at our Antiochian Village Camp. He worked as a counselor at the Antiochian Village (Bolivar, PA) for nine years and served as Camp Director of Camp St. Raphael.

Fr. James was ordained to the Holy Diaconate September 19, 2004 at St. George Cathedral in Wichita, KS and was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on October 17, 2004 at St. Elijah Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, OK. He formerly served as the Assistant Priest and Youth Director at our Cathedral in Wichita, KS. Fr. James was assigned as the pastor of our parish in August 2011.

Fr. James was elevated to the rank and dignity of Archpriest on November 1, 2015 by His Grace Bishop Basil.

Workshop Sessions:

Called to be Saints

How can we be transformed by Christ in any career? How can we bring our Christian faith to the work we do? What does it mean that we are all called to be saints? How can we work towards sainthood as students studying various subjects?

The King of Glory

Rising Above the “Why?” in “Why Suffering?”

What is the relationship between the Transfiguration and the Crucifixion? How can we accept suffering as Christ accepted His own suffering? How does suffering transform us?

    The Altar of Our Hearts

    How can we participate in the transfiguration of the world through service to others? How do we make our day into a liturgy (offering)?

    On the Holy Mountain

    What benefit does living in community have on our spiritual lives? When is fellowship more than just hanging out? How can we take initiative in building life-giving communities / friend groups? What does the three disciples experience on the mountain teach us about the bonds we form with others?

    From Glory to Glory

    What does it mean to be transformed from glory to glory? How can we allow ourselves to be transfigured in all parts of our lives? What can we do to respond to the gift of grace? How do the spiritual disciplines/asceticism/prayer help us to see the glory of the Lord? What can we practically implement as college students in our day to day lives?

    Bread & Wine, Body & Blood

    Interactive workshop in which we make prosforo for CC liturgy and learn about the process of winemaking with some theology of the Eucharist (God gives us wheat and grapes, we give him our effort to make them bread and wine, He returns them to us as Himself)

    Workshop Speakers:

    East

    Midwest

    Fr William Bennett

    Fr. William Bennett

    Pastor, St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church in NYC

    Presenting:
    Bread & Wine, Body & Blood

    Read Fr. William's Bio

    Fr. William Bennett is the pastor of Pastor of St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church in New York City. He serves as the OCF Northeast Regional Spiritual Advisor. Fr. William is a graduate of Christ the Saviour Seminary, and was ordained to the holy priesthood in 2015. He is married to Pani Ileana, and the father of three children.

    Katrina Bitar

    Katrina Bitar

    Director, YES North America

    Presenting:
    The Altar of Our Hearts

    Read Katrina's Bio

    Katrina has been the YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) Program Director since May of 2009, following her graduation from St. Vladimir’s Seminary. She has been involved in youth ministry for more than 20 years. She served as a full-time parish youth director for 6 years, St. Nicholas Camping Program Director from 2003-2021, OCF College Conference West Advisor for 5 years, and has been involved with the YES Program since 2004. Katrina feels incredibly blessed to serve YES, the community that changed her own perspective on homelessness, poverty, and youth ministry. She is grateful to help create opportunities that equip youth and young adults to serve each person as the image of Christ.

    Kyra Limberakis

    Kyra Limberakis

    Director, CrossRoad Institute

    Chair, Orthodox Volunteer Corps Advisory Council

    Presenting:
    Called to be Saints

    Read Kyra's Bio

    Kyra Limberakis, M.T.S is Director of Strategic Growth for CrossRoad Institute and Chair of the Orthodox Volunteer Corps Advisory Council. She received her bachelor’s degree from Villanova University and her Master of Theological Studies from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry where she focused her studies on youth and young adult ministry and the ministry of women in the church. Kyra’s experience in youth work spans 10+ years and includes serving as staff for her metropolis camp, Ionian Village, Orthodox Christian Fellowship, and CrossRoad—all programs that were part of her own faith formation. In addition to working in full time ministry, Kyra has published articles on the topic of young women’s faith formation. The granddaughter of an Orthodox priest, she is committed to the education and ministry of young people for the future of the Church.

    Fr. Demetrios Tsikouris

    Fr. Demetrios Tsikouris

    Presiding Priest, St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church in Wheeling, WV

    Presenting:
    The King of Glory

    Read Fr. Demetrios's Bio
    Fr. Demetrios Tsikouris is the parish priest of St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church in Wheeling, West Virginia. Fr. Demetrios graduated from the Master of Divinity Program at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in May of 2014, and was subsequently ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh.

    Prior to seminary Fr. Demetrios received his Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from the University of Cincinnati and later also received his Doctorate of Pharmacy from the same institution. He subsequently completed a 2-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Connecticut specializing in Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Fr. Demetrios was blessed to experience a very fulfilling career as a college professor at Texas Tech University and the University of Pittsburgh; being promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. During his time in academia, he authored or co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and scientific abstracts, and received various teaching and research awards at the local, regional, and national level.

    While thoroughly enjoying his academic career, Fr. Demetrios has found the ministry of the Holy Priesthood of the Orthodox Church to be the most fulfilling and beautiful work that one could ask for. Fr. Demetrios maintains a very active teaching ministry within his parish community, and has been invited as a guest speaker and lecturer at the local, regional, and national level.

    Ary Christofidis

    Dr. Ary Christofidis

    Founder & Director, Orthodox Christian Counseling Institute

    Presenting:
    The King of Glory

    Read Dr. Christofidis's Bio

    Dr. Christofidis is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. He sees people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, marital conflict, and family discord. Dr. Christofidis also treats youth who are struggling with emotional and family issues and clients who are dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, assisting them with the emotional challenges that accompany the disease. His approach in working with clients includes elements of Cognitive Behavioral, Psychodynamic and Family Systems therapies. The foundation of his approach to therapy comes from his three years of study at Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology and the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church.

    Dr. Christofidis received two graduate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh: a Masters in Clinical Social Work and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. He has worked in two psychiatric hospitals, three university and community counseling centers, and a residential treatment facility. Dr. Christofidis received intensive training in family therapy from The Family Therapy Center at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in 1993. His most recent clinical experiences include working six years as a contract psychologist at The Family Institute of Northwestern University and seven years as a part-time psychologist at the Cancer Wellness Center in Northbrook Illinois.

    Dr. Christofidis is a nationally recognized speaker within the Pan-Orthodox community and has been a guest speaker on “Come Receive the Light” radio program on the Orthodox Christian Network.. He has led clergy and clergy wives retreats and Family Synaxis seminars. He is a regular guest speaker at parish events in the Chicago area. In 2013 he was a keynote speaker at the “Pastoral Challenges in Marriage” Conference at Holy Cross Seminary. In 2014 the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago appointed Dr. Christofidis to be the permanent representative to the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care.

    Shelby Giokas

    Shelby Giokas

    Program Secretary, Thriving in Ministry & OCA Office of Pastoral Life

    Presenting:
    On the Holy Mountain

    Read Shelby's Bio

    Shelby Giokas earned her Masters of Divinity from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in 2020. She is passionate about building Orthodox Christian communities for Christians of all ages. As the program secretary for Thriving in Ministry and the Orthodox Church in America’s Office of Pastoral Life, she supports peer learning for priests, deacons, and their wives. She is the Sunday School director for two parishes, and has been a summer camper, councilor, and director. When not working or in church, she loves knitting, reading, and playing board games. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and son.

    Fr. Chris Salamy

    Fr. Christopher Salamy

    Pastor, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, AZ

    Presenting:
    From Glory to Glory

    Read Fr. Chris's Bio

    Fr. Chris Salamy was born in 1972 to Lebanese-American parents in the small rural town of Whitesville, West Virginia. Fr. Salamy was baptized in the Holy Orthodox Church and was raised in Charleston, West Virginia until 1985 when his family relocated to Los Angeles, California. His passion is the study of the Holy Scriptures and foreign language. He was married in August, 1998 to Allyson Marie (Raya) Salamy in Los Angeles, CA and has two daughters, Sophia Renee and Amelia Claire. He was assigned as the Youth Director of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, OK in October of 1998 where he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate in February 1999 and to the Holy Priesthood in March 1999. He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University, a Master’s of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and a Doctorate of Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Fr. Salamy was assigned to the pastorate of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, AZ in December 1999 and he remains as pastor to this day.

    Wondering about COVID?

    One of the highest concerns for OCF is the continual safety and well-being of the students we serve. As we navigate COVID and plan College Conference, our team is aware that conditions and expert recommendations continue to change and evolve.

    As a result, we will announce our College Conference COVID policy closer to the event, on December 6. We will continue to monitor the situation and consult with medical professionals as we establish guidelines for attendees.

    Register for College Conference 2021

    Cost: $340

    Scholarship Info

    Can’t afford to attend College Conference? Need-based scholarships are available. Apply for up to $275 toward conference registration, and up to $300 toward travel expenses.

    If you are applying for a need-based OCF Program Scholarship, please use the discount code SCHOLARSHIP21 on the confirmation page before submitting payment. You will then be directed to pay your required $65 deposit.

    The scholarship application will be found in your confirmation email after registration and deposit payment, or may be completed by clicking here. Please note: College Conference registration must be completed prior to applying for a scholarship. All scholarships will be reviewed and awarded based upon stated need and available funds on a rolling basis starting November 1, 2021 and concluding December 13, 2021. If you have any questions about the scholarship process, please email Peter Mansour at peter@ocf.net or Christina Andresen at christina@ocf.net.

    Steps for need-based scholarships:

      1. Register with discount code.
      2. Pay $65 deposit.
      3. Receive scholarship application in confirmation email.
      4. Complete and submit scholarship application.
      5. Scholarships reviewed and awarded, beginning November 1.

    College Conference Midwest

    St. Iakovos Retreat Center
    Kansasville, WI

    December 27-30, 2021

    CCMW 2021 is full!

    College Conference East

    Antiochian Village
    Bolivar, PA

    December 27-30, 2021