In this series, “My OCF Story,” alumni share their experiences from their time in OCF and its impact on their transition and life in the post-grad real world.
My name is Lindsey Maria Birdsall and I am a proud OCF alum. I studied English and Political Theory at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and graduated in 2008. I currently teach music, drama, and literature to grades K through 6 at Park Street School in Boston.
I was chrismated as an Orthodox Christian in college, largely due to the witness of OCF. We had a very small, yet very close knit, group that sometimes met for morning prayers and dinner after Saturday night Vespers. While the official programming at my college was not extensive, it’s through the friendships that I made in OCF that I came to know about the Orthodox faith. Going on a Real Break trip to Guatemala was also a pivotal moment for me. Before this trip, I questioned whether the Orthodox Church was indeed still living and fulfilling the “great commission,” to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:6-20). After seeing the nuns of the Hogar Rafael Ayau living out their faith, my question was answered. The Orthodox Church is indeed Christ’s living body on earth. Hearing about the nuns’ conversion and all the hardships they have endured with such joy made me eager to receive “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
After graduation, I leaned on my OCF connections more than ever. Sometimes I jokingly call my first year out of college my “freshman year of life.” I moved from my suburban hometown in Texas to New York City to teach at a high school in the South Bronx, and I had a lot to learn. It was tempting to get swept away in the stress of all these changes, but my friends from OCF were a grounding influence on me. That first year, while traveling to meet up with some OCF friends in Boston, I met my husband. With a few more visits I slowly became a part of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Boston, a parish that is now like an extended family to me. Since then, I have moved to Boston, gotten married, had our first child, and taught at a couple of excellent Christian schools.
I am truly grateful to God for all the blessings that OCF has brought to my life. Whether it was having company at church services and deep discussions over meals in the cafe, traveling to College Conferences, serving on the Student Advisory Board, participating in the national Day of Prayer, and traveling on two Real Break trips to Guatemala and Greece, the experiences all truly changed my life. In OCF, I was so inspired to see the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the Church on local, national, and global levels. In Guatemala, I saw that work of the Holy Spirit was greater than I could fathom, and yet from my OCF chapter, I learned that it was also as simple as befriending my neighbor in the dorm. OCF has given me peace, perspective, and some friendships that have now lasted for a decade.