On the weekend of February 13, as president at North Carolina State University, I was lucky enough to host Fr. Anthony Salzman and Presbytera Christine from St. Philothea Greek Orthodox Church of Athens, GA (OCF spiritual advisor for the Southeast), Fr. Jon Emanuelson of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Wilmington, NC (spiritual advisor for our district), and our North Carolina district student leader John Shelton for a weekend with our chapters for our District Retreat. The theme of this weekend, which coincided with Valentine’s Day, was “Love Is Eternal” (John 3:16). The weekend was filled with fellowship, service, and worship as we all learned together the importance of loving ourselves, our neighbors, and our God.
We started the weekend a little early on Thursday with Fr. Anthony and Presbytera Christine having a table setup in the main Student Union at North Carolina State University. At the table, Fr. Anthony painted an icon of St. Paraskevi as onlookers approached the table with curious eyes and in awe of the beauty of the icon. Fr. Anthony and Presbytera Christine were actively engaged with the students at North Carolina State University and invited the students to join them in the lecture that would occur later that evening. Fr. Anthony gave a lecture entitled, “Byzantine Iconography: Theology in Color – The Meaning of Byzantine Iconography” which was a beautiful lecture dedicated to the history and uncommon elegance that Byzantine iconography has offered in the past and in the present. The Salzmans were also able to visit nearby Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to talk with students.
For the Saturday event, students from all over North Carolina all came to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Raleigh, North Carolina to spend time together to serve, pray, and worship in the church. We began the day with a beautiful lunch of pastitsio and spanakopita graciously provided by Philoptochos through our wonderful OCF liaison Katerina Knezevic. After our lunch, we introduced ourselves through icebreakers and games. Our next step was to journey into the church for our service project which consisted of cleaning the church, the altar, the narthex, and the solea.
After cleaning the church, we all took part in Fr. Anthony’s lecture with the theme, “Love Is Eternal.” Fr. Anthony discussed the importance of love and how it is manifest in many teachings of the church. We also openly talked about the importance which involves not going into the extremes in any of the cases we deal with in college, but rather having an equal balance of faith and fun. We then transitioned into a beautiful Vespers that was an intimate and pleasing way to wrap up our events of our day at church. After Vespers, we went to the home of Fr. Paul and Presbytera Mary Christy where we were treated to an extravagant meal by the hands of Yianni Theodorou, one of Holy Trinity’s chanters.
In the morning, we all attended church together in the first three pews and celebrated the Divine Liturgy served by Fr. Anthony. After his sermon, we thanked the community for hosting us and the Salzmans for being our special guests, and we enjoyed breakfast from the Philoptochos of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Wilmington, NC, who had sent treats with Fr. Jon. Overall, this weekend showed the importance of getting together and communing with the Orthodox mindset. We all grew together in the theme “Love Is Eternal” and cannot wait to meet up again at the regional WorkDaze retreat in March!
Gabriella Christy is a Senior Psychology major at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The daughter of Father Paul and Presvytera Mary from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Gaby has been the president of the NC State Chapter for two years. Upon graduation in May, she will pursue graduate studies in the fall.