One of my very best friends at school and I first met at our OCF meetings. And through that, we started going to Liturgy together.
During our freshmen year we lived on campus, about a fifteen minute walk from our church. Every Sunday morning – whether it was raining, snowing, sunny, or freezing outside – we met in the quad and walked past the sleeping houses to Liturgy. While we walked, we chatted about our weeks, complained about homework, talked about our families. It was during these walks to church that we became friends.
We’re now juniors and roommates in an apartment we rent from a lady who goes to our church. I teach church school. Parishioners come up to us during coffee hour to ask questions about OCF and the priest’s wife gives us all a round of hugs. We’ve made friends with other young adults outside of our OCF friends. I feel like a full-fledged member of a church and a community.
This feeling of belonging I attribute to walking to church with my friend. If I had to go alone, it would have been harder. I’m not sure I would have stuck around during coffee hour to meet people or gotten out of my bed on those sub zero mornings.
And that’s my biggest piece of Orthodox College Prep advice: find a friend to go to church with. You’ll feel alone and lost and confused during your first semester of school. That’s okay. The Church is a place that welcomes you and surrounds you with her arms. Just look up at the outstretched arms of the Theotokos behind the altar, embracing you into the glory of her Son. Then look to your left or your right and see the Mother of God also embracing your new friend.