January Regional Feature: Midwest Region

January Regional Feature: Midwest Region

Every month, the OCF social media platforms will be featuring one of the nine regions of chapters. January is the month for the Midwest Region, which includes the great states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, the provinces Manitoba and western Ontario, as well as not one, but two! Dakotas.

On the blog, I’ll be asking the Regional Student Leader–for Midwest, the dazzling Nicole Petrow–for a few names of people in their region who are absolutely rockin’ it. It’s an opportunity for every region to showcase and share that which makes them unique and awesome, and hopefully all the regions can learn from and grow with each other.

So, without further ado, your Midwest All-Stars!

Deanna Kolas, Chapter Member, Loyola University

I’m Deanna. I grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and now I’m a first-year graduate student studying Counseling at Loyola University Chicago.

Deanna, why did you decide to go to a school with an OCF?

When I was searching for colleges for my undergrad, having a church nearby and an OCF was really important to me. I had heard from so many people that staying connected with Orthodoxy was challenging for college students, but I was determined to stay strong and connected. I was involved in OCF at the UofM, and I’m involved at Loyola as well. Part of the reason I wanted to move to Chicago was because of the active Greek and Orthodox community here, so I thought that joining OCF would be a great way to begin joining and making connections in that community.

So what do you enjoy most about OCF?

Some of my favorite experiences with OCF have been going to retreats and conferences. I love being able to get away from my regular life for a bit and recharge. Something that I’ve really enjoyed about both of my OCFs is that they get involved with and plan events with students from other schools and their OCFs.

What advice would you give to OCF chapter members across the nation?

A piece of advice I would give to other OCF members is to get involved as much as you can. I always wanted to become a leader in my UofM OCF, but I didn’t because I studied abroad for one semester. Even though I’ve always been very involved in OCF, I regret not taking on a leadership role. If you have ideas of activities your chapter could do or ways to make OCF even better, don’t be afraid to tell someone, take action, and make it happen.

Jamie Zaine, Chapter Member, Drake University

My name is Jamie Zaine and I am a senior at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. I am from West Saint Paul, MN and grew up attending St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church. At Drake, I study Finance with a minor in Spanish. Drake is a school of 3,400 students and there is no OCF, however, there is an Orthodox church six blocks from school! So even when I had no car on campus my first years of school, I could easily walk down the street on Sunday mornings.

How did you get involved with OCF, Jamie?

I am sure you have heard many times, “Your school doesn’t have an OCF? No problem, here is how you start one.” At least that is what people said to me. When I first got to Drake, I was determined to do just that. But I quickly realized that wouldn’t be happening. I’ve run across a few Orthodox students here and there, but starting a chapter just isn’t practical. So I decided that I would integrate myself into the church community in Des Moines by getting to know the high schoolers and retirees and everyone in between. No, they are not college students going through the same things as me, but they are Orthodox Christians striving to live the same faith.

Editor’s note: sometimes the coolest OCFers don’t have a chapter. I’ve heard, in fact, there is a rather dashing one at the University of Chicago who occasionally runs the OCF blog. Go team.

How has your lack of chapter impacted your college experience?

As a senior about to graduate, I look back at my four years of college and thank God that he gave me the opportunity to attend church each week. Don’t get me wrong, there were Sundays when I didn’t want to be at church. I would have rather slept in or just hung out with kids my age. But going each week kept God present in my life during college. It reminded me that there is more to life than studying, classes, internships, and campus organizations.

Any advice for other kids struggling without a chapter?

Tips to keep God present in your life:

  1. If your school doesn’t have an OCF or church nearby, do what you can to keep God present in your life. Maybe you can set up 30 minutes every Sunday morning to read some prayers and Bible. Try to make it a habit that you don’t break just because your friends want to go to brunch.
  2. I have found that who you spend your time with is very important. Spend time with Christians of other denominations. Even if you don’t go to Bible study or worship with them, it is nice to have fellow college students living a life devoted to Christ, with similar morals and understanding of the Truth.
  3. Something that I started to take part in later in my college career is events sponsored by OCF. I wish I would have gotten more involved earlier and maybe even taken on a leadership position! The regional retreats and college conferences have been such faith refreshing experiences for me. Sign up! You will meet some awesome people and learn more about your faith!

Margaret Kolyvas, Chapter President and Founder, Bradley University

Okay Margaret, last but not least! Tell us your OCF story.

I met Father Ciprian Sas, the priest at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria, when I was trying to decide what university to attend. His wife, Presbytera Magdelena Sas is a professor at Bradley, and when I attended the church’s food festival my freshman year, we talked about the possibility of starting an OCF. From there I have been working on getting the organization started and growing the chapter.

New chapter–nice! Do you have a favorite moment from that process?

I think my best memory is when I held our first informational meeting this past year after having low attendance for my first two years. We had double what our usual attendance was and everyone came excited to be there and get to know one another. It really made me realize that we had a chance to grow the organization.

What’s something you’re working on in your new chapter that’s working really well?

For about a year, Father Ciprian Sas came to Bradley’s campus and would meet with anyone that wanted to come to talk about some controversial topics that college students can relate to and our response to them as Orthodox Christians. We had a huge turnout when we conversed about the differences between the Orthodox and Catholic churches with Orthodox, Catholic, Nondenominational, and many other students attending.

And what advice can you give to an OCFer trying to start a chapter at their school?

Keep trying! At Bradley, we have really struggled with numbers since our student population is so small. I just keep reminding myself and anyone else in my position or involved in any way that one person is enough. One person involved in the organization is enough to keep pushing and trying to spread the Word and do the work of our Lord.

Why Should You Attend College Conference Midwest? The Speakers Speak

Why Should You Attend College Conference Midwest? The Speakers Speak

It’s the first year of College Conference Midwest! We’ve interviewed all of the speakers–and the always-charming College Conference Midwest Student Leader, Peter Savas–and asked them about their workshops, their history, and why they think you should attend CC Midwest. Read along to find out what to expect from OCF’s shiny new program!

Keynote Speaker Fr. Panagiotis Boznos

Fr. Panagiotis BoznosFr. Panagiotis Boznos is the Proistamenos of Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview, IL. He was born and spent most of his childhood in the Chicago suburbs, before attending the University of Oklahoma, where he received his BA in 2008 in Religious Studies and Classical Greek. He then went on to receive his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. While a student at Holy Cross, Fr. Panagiotis met and married his wife, Presbytera Nichole. They have two children, and have been serving the community of Saints Peter and Paul since the summer of 2013.

Fr. Panagiotis–you are the keynote speaker! Why are you excited to speak to the Conference’s Theme of “Come and See” (John 1:39)?

“I am excited to speak on the theme ‘Come and See’ because it is the invitation that both Christ and His disciples use (John 1.38-51). Christ calls His followers to Himself using these words, and those who hear it make that same invitation to others. ‘Come and See’ is at the same time a personal invitation for our own salvation in Christ and a responsibility of the Christian to draw others toward salvation, as well. These words, and they way in which they are used, mean that we must be transfigured and sanctified in Christ and that our sanctification is not complete without the salvation of our fellow man.”

Fr. Gabriel Bilas

static1-squarespaceFr. Gabriel is the rector of St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church in Fenton, Michigan.  He live in nearby Linden, Michigan with his Matushka Laura and two beautiful children, Lucy and Noah!

He grew up in Akron, OH and was a member of St. Elia Orthodox Church of the Orthodox Church in America.  After spending ten years in the banking industry, his wife gave him the blessing to go and pursue a seminary education, and further discern a calling he had received to the priesthood.  After graduating from St. Tikhon’s Seminary, he served in a Russian Patriarchal Parish in Youngstown, OH while he awaited assignment from his diocese. He has been at St. Mary Magdalene since February, and he and his family cannot picture themselves anywhere else!

Having been a member of OCF himself, and having also attended the conference at Antiochian Village, he knew how important it was to have a vibrant local OCF for our college students. One of the first priorities in coming to the Fenton area was to establish an OCF in Flint. He has a fantastic group of college students from the four area Orthodox churches who worked hard in getting this new chapter established, and he am extremely excited at the possibilities!

On what topic will you be speaking? Why will your topic be interesting/helpful to college students?

“The title of my workshop is ‘Living Sacramentally.’ College was a confusing time for me. Although I never left the Orthodox faith, there was a time when I allowed the pressures of college to get to me, causing me to change the priorities in my life. I lost sight my role as an Orthodox Christian, and allowed the temptations of the world to overwhelm me.

What I hope to share with the students, is just how important their roles are as Orthodox Christians in the world…especially as students. Life presents so many challenges which cause us to lose our focus on Christ. St. Theophan the Recluse calls the battles within ourselves ‘unseen warfare.’ I hope to enhance the students’ understanding of the armor and weapons they were given (specifically baptism, chrismation, and the Eucharist) to fight in that war…making sure they end up on top.”

What’s the one thing at CC Midwest for which you’re the most excited?

“I love meeting new people and sharing ideas!  I gain inspiration and strength by hearing stories of how others are coping in this ‘unseen warfare!'”

Why would you recommend a student come to CC Midwest?

“I would recommend students to come to the conference for the very last word in ‘OCF’…fellowship!

One of the great things that the OCF does is create a system to hold individual students accountable to each other. You make lifelong friends who you can journey through the difficulties of college life with!

Let’s face it, college (and the years immediately after) are an extremely vulnerable time for students and their faith.  The percentages of Christians who abandon their belief in Christ during this time in their life are staggering!  By having an organization like the OCF, students can reach out to their friends who are struggling with their faith, pray for them, and give them strength to endure the hardships that come with college.”

Fr. Ciprian Sas

frciprian_outsideFr. Ciprian Sas was born in Timisoara, Romania in 1975. When he was 13 years old, his parents fled communist Romania with secret plans and trust in God that they would be reunited with their five minor children (ages 3-15) in the “free world.” Following eight to ten months of pressures from the International Red Cross on the Romanian Communist Government, he and his siblings were reunited with their parents in Sweden, where they lived for a year before moving to Canada. Fr. Ciprian received his theology degree from St. Andrew’s College in Canada, a Masters in International Business from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His Presbytera Dr. Magdalena Sas and Fr. Ciprian have three children: Elijah (13), Emanuela (11), and Isaiah (8). Fr. Ciprian has served St. Andrew’s Church in Las Vegas, NV for three years, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Cedar Rapids, IA for almost seven years, and his current parish All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria, IL for four years.

What will your workshop cover?

“In an attempt to deepen our Orthodox Christian understanding of Salvation, my workshop will address numerous topics directly related to our salvation, such as faith, heaven and hell, sin, suffering, sacrifice, blessings, prosperity, good works, life in Christ, and acquisition of the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox Christian doctrines on these topics will be compared and contrasted to other Christian faiths and even other religions. The conclusion of this workshop will focus on everyday life behaviors and manifestations of an Orthodox Christian.”

Fr. Kosmas Kallis

kosmas-and-annaFr. Kosmas Kallis is the Youth Director/Associate Pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview, Illinois.  He is originally from the home of the greatest hockey franchise in the United States, Detroit, Michigan: Hockeytown, USA.  He is the advisor to the OCF at Northwestern University and loves having the opportunity to get to know and be inspired by the young adults in the area.

On what topic will you be speaking? Why will your topic be interesting/helpful to college students?

“I will be speaking with my wife, Anna Kallis, on the topic ‘He Made Them Male And Female.’ I think the title says it all.”

What’s the one thing at CC Midwest for which you’re the most excited?

“Bonfires. And s’mores. An spending time with inspiring, interested, engaging young adults of the Midwest.”

Why would you recommend a student come to CC Midwest?

“I would say that without taking time to retreat over Christmas Break, a college kid will not truly have come ‘home’.  To really go ‘home’ for break means to come back to Christ.  If a student comes to CC Midwest, they will find Christ in their fellow students, in their discussions and lessons, and, most importantly in the chalice on Friday morning.”

Peter Savas

This is Peter Savas. Peter is running College Conference Midwest. Don't you want to see this smiling face over your winter break?

This is Peter Savas. Peter is running College Conference Midwest. Don’t you want to see this smiling face over your winter break?

Peter Savas is from the west suburbs of Chicago, specifically Holy Apostles Parish in Westchester IL. He is an active member in my OCF at Loyola University Chicago, and he is the student leader for College Conference Midwest!

Why did you decide to become CC Midwest leader?

“I always heard about College Conference, and I never got to go because it involved buying a flight, which around the holidays, was super expensive. So, when I heard there would be a College Conference opening up near Chicago, I was so pumped. I wanted to be a part of it, and help it be an amazing opportunity for college kids around the Midwest.”

What’s the one thing at CC Midwest for which you’re the most excited?

“I think just the fact that this is the opening year is really cool. This is the year where we all can kind of set the stage and start traditions. We can really make College Conference into our own. I think it’s cool to be a part of something that will outlast you. And because it’s the first year of CC Midwest, we get that opportunity. All of us that go to College Conference are going to be pioneers. We can tell our kids when they go to CC Midwest that we went to the very first one. We started the tradition that they are looking forward to so much, and I think that that’s really cool. So, I think just being a part of something really cool and new is exciting to me.”

Why would you recommend a student come to CC Midwest?

“College is tough. College is awesome… but college is tough. At least for me it is. I feel like when I’m at school I go into a bubble. I am so into whatever is going on around campus that I get lost in it. I kind of lose myself in the hustle and bustle of college. CC Midwest is an opportunity to recharge, refocus, and rejuvenate. It’s a place to regain perspective. It’s a place to ground yourself from the bubble of college. It’s a place where people can be genuine. Where people don’t have to worry about this or that or feel as though they have to act in a certain way. It’s an opportunity for a person to be authentic as themselves. I think that’s the most important thing that I really am looking forward to. I just can’t wait to be able to be genuine. That’s why I would recommend CC Midwest. Obviously it’s gonna be lit…but it’s an opportunity to be genuine with your friends, with yourself and with God. So, I think that everybody should come to CC Midwest, it is seriously gonna be awesome.”

Reflecting on the Midwest Regional Retreat | Register, Then Go

Reflecting on the Midwest Regional Retreat | Register, Then Go

I went to the Midwest Regional Retreat this weekend, and before it was even halfway over, I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. Here goes.

Let’s start with where I was, where my mindset was, before the retreat.

I went in knowing just one person, and I expected to leave only knowing a few more. I’m definitely not the most social person on the face of the planet–I like to stick to myself. I didn’t have a cadre of compatriots from my local OCF chapter in tow with me. I hadn’t been a two- or three- or four-year attendee of this retreat. I was new, and being new is scary, and being new and not the most social person on the face of the planet is even scarier.

That’s where I was, this past Friday, the day before the retreat–but more importantly, that’s where I was, three weeks ago, when I registered for the retreat. Even in all of that scariness, I still registered.

Now, you probably won’t be exactly where I was, but you might be close to where I was. And despite where I was–unsure, hesitant, afraid–I still registered. That, my friends, is my first recommendation to you: register.

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This is us. We’re pretty cool.

Most Regional Retreats are free. There’s neither harm nor foul in registering and being unable to attend. There is, however, both harm and foul in failing to register, then being able and willing and wishing to attend. The harm and foul being, of course, you miss out on the fantastic retreat.

Register. Register and get the drum-roll updates, register and get added to the Facebook group to start meeting your fellow retreat-mates. Register, and if you can’t make it, that’s okay. But don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity by failing to register. Don’t find yourself wishing you made a different decision three weeks ago.

Register, so that you can get to where I am now.

I feel so blessed. I only knew one guy headed to the retreat, and he had a spot in his car for me. The retreat was scheduled for my first weekend at college! One weekend earlier, and I wouldn’t have been able to make it. The schoolwork of the first week was not-so-overwhelming–not enough to prevent my attendance, at least. I’d even been to the retreat center before, which made me all the more comfortable.

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Paraklesis

Thank God that all of these factors came together as they did. I told you I expected to leave only knowing a few more people–I stand before you, proudly proclaiming that I know and love several. I laughed, almost to the point of tears, with a day-old friend over a poorly drawn picture of invisible guitars; I listened, awestruck, as yesterday’s strangers spoke about their pilgrimages to Greece and their life-long dream to live in the mountains; I sung, rather poorly, the Paraklesis service with twenty other Orthodox Christian college students, and our off-key stumblings were some of the most beautiful notes I have ever heard.

This serves my second point. If the first was register, the second is this: then go.

Yes, it is laughably simple, for my two recommendations for Regional Retreats to be register, then go. However, I cannot honestly give you more earnest advice. I cannot tell you how to handle your shaky expectations, your nervousness, for I had no solution myself! I simply registered nonetheless. Nor can I tell you how to handle yourself while you are there, for that belongs to you and to God, not to me. I simply arrived and was myself.

And it could not have possibly gone better.

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How could you say no to free bagels? I certainly didn’t.

Last week, I encouraged you to check yourself: to look at who you were, who you wanted to become, and if you were trending in that direction. This was an examination of your growth, but on a macroscopic scale. I find myself taking the same check-in, but on a microscopic scale: comparing the individual I was before this weekend to the individual I am afterward.

The difference is both striking in magnitude and encouraging in effect. I am better than I was, trending upward, growing stronger. And all I did was register, then go.

So, the only advice I can give you is simply as such: register, then go.

-B

If you want to learn more about your Regional Retreat, click here!

Your Regional Student Leader and the Retreat they’re organizing for YOU

Your Regional Student Leader and the Retreat they’re organizing for YOU

What a time to be alive! College Conference registration is OPEN! Real Break registration is OPEN! And finally, Regional Retreat registration is–you guessed it–OPEN!

The comprehensive list of Regional Retreats currently scheduled and open for registration (did you hear? Registration is OPEN!) can be found on the OCF Events page right here.

To tell you a little more about what Regional Retreats are and why you should go, I’d like to introduce to you your very own Regional Student Leader! If you’re unsure in which region you live, check out this handy-dandy map right here!

Red -- Northwest Dark Blue -- Southwest Yellow -- Mountain Light Blue -- Midwest Dark Green -- South Pink -- Great Lakes Orange -- Southeast Light Green -- Mid-Atlantic Purple -- Northeast

Red – Northwest
Dark Blue – Southwest
Yellow – Mountain
Light Blue – Midwest
Dark Green – South
Pink – Great Lakes
Orange – Southeast
Light Green – Mid-Atlantic
Purple – Northeast

Please get in contact with your RSL–they’re here for you and built to make your life awesome.

If you’ve attended a Regional Retreat and have a story you’d like to share, I’d LOVE to feature it on the blog. Contact me at publicationsstudent@ocf.net and I’ll set you up.

Without further ado–here are your RSLs, and their thoughts on Regional Retreats!


1. So, what exactly is a Regional Retreat? Like, what happens?

NikoA Regional Retreat is an event that brings Orthodox college students (and those inquiring about the Faith) together for a wholesome weekend of discussion, fellowship, service, and worship. Students of all jurisdictions come from around the entire region to meet friends, offer work for the Glory of God through a service project, and most importantly worship together as the body of Christ.

 – Niko Wilk, Southeast Regional Student Leader
southeaststudent@ocf.net

2. So why should I go?Rachel

You should go because it is such a NEEDED break from your school work. Also, it is a good way to be spiritually renewed and regain your energy for the rest of the semester. Another bonus is that you get to meet some incredible people who are going through similar life experiences as you, and I mean, who doesn’t like more Orthodox Christian friends?

 – Rachel Howanetz, Mid-Atlantic Regional Student Leader
midatlanticstudent@ocf.net

3. What makes regional retreats special, unique? Why are they different from my regular OCF chapter meeting?

So you can find an Orthodox spouse!!!!!! HAHA jk Ben don’t put that in the blog.

Nicole(Yeah, okay Nicole.)

If there’s one piece of advice I have to offer, it is not to let your college OCF chapter become your only experience with Orthodoxy in college. Retreats such as this one can introduce you to the wide world of OCF that exists outside of your comfort zone at school. Boris Pasternak once wrote that unshared happiness is not happiness – and I think to a certain extent the same can be said for one’s faith life. Come to the Midwest regional retreat to take a breather from school, meet new friends, and rejuvenate your faith life.
 – Nicole Petrow, Midwest Regional Student Leader
midweststudent@ocf.net

4. What was the best regional retreat you’ve ever attended? What made it so good?

Spyridoula

The best retreat I ever attended was in Syracuse, NY. The speakers were really great, but what made it meaningful for me was the priest’s advice of how to deal with a very difficult professor who tested my own faith. I came back equipped with the right tools of patience and prayer, plus all the ethnic dances were quite a workout and a lot of fun!

 – Sypridoula Fotinis, Northeast Regional Student Leader
northeaststudent@ocf.net

5. Okay, in 1-6 words, why will your regional retreat be the best in the country?

Incredible retreat center and awesome speakers! LITURGICAL. ARTS. Need I say more? We have a nature walk! Because Christ is at the center! It’s in the mountains of Colorado. Faith, Friends, and Fun! Abbot Tryphon will be speaking! It brings us love at home. TEXAS.


6. How has a regional retreat 13246420_10204589950388632_4155340880391939275_ochanged your life?

Even as a Regional Student Leader, I haven’t been to one yet. This will be the first retreat in the Northwest Region. Planning it has been a blessing to realize that I can do things that scare me when I’m with Christ.

 – David Munkres, Northwest Regional Student Leader
northweststudent@ocf.net

7. Funniest story ever from a regional retreat–go!

Spiro[This one time at the OCF retreat, (please omit this section) NOPE!] Our group sat around a table and a waitress asks us if we would like desert.  Then the priest says, “Orange whip? Orange whip?” quoting the Blues Brothers.  I immediately began cracking up, then we look around and realize that no one understood the reference but us.

 – Spiro Morris, Great Lakes Regional Student Leader
greatlakesstudent@ocf.net

8. Why did you want to become a Regional Student Leader and start organizing these retreats?

I wanted to become a Regional Student Leader because when I started college, I didn’t Quinnhave any Orthodox friends on campus, there was no OCF chapter on campus, and the closest church was 45 minutes away and a lot of the time, the road was closed so I couldn’t make it over in the winter. I decided to start a chapter at my university and it is finally almost in place!

I didn’t know about the Mountain Regional Retreat until two months after it had taken place. I knew that I really could have benefited from attending this retreat and that is a very large reason why I because a regional leader…to help get the word out about the regional retreat and let other OCF students know the benefits from attending.

 – Quinn Marquadt, Mountain Regional Student Leader
mountainstudent@ocf.net

9. Okay, what if I can’t make it on the weekend it’s scheduled? Are there other things for me to do?

IMG_5790On this particular weekend the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco is also having their annual fall young adult retreat.  That will be held at the Monastery in Dunlap, CA.  Otherwise, definitely contact me to see how you can get involved, whether it be at a local chapter, or remotely! There are always opportunities for you to grow in Christ– and I encourage you to take these opportunities.  You will be so happy you did.

 – Markayla Stroubakis, Southwest Regional Student Leader
southweststudent@ocf.net

10. Any other advice/info?Kathrine

GET INVOLVED! YOU’RE NEVER TOO COOL FOR JESUS AND FREE PIZZA.

 – Kathrine Sackllah, South Regional Student Leader
southstudent@ocf.net
My SLB Story: Nicole Petrow, Midwest Regional Student Leader

My SLB Story: Nicole Petrow, Midwest Regional Student Leader

I’d love to say that my decision to apply for the SLB was motivated by some divine intervention, that St. Katherine appeared to me in a dream or that the Holy Spirit forwarded the application directly to my inbox. In actuality, my journey to the SLB was more a fortuitous combination of unintentionally joining the OCF email list, a little spontaneous decision making, and a lot of passion for OCF. This past year on the SLB has provided me with some of the best friends and experiences of my young life. Most importantly, it has brought me closer to Christ in a way I never expected.

I applied for the SLB as a wide eyed freshman with one short year of chapter experience under my belt. I had attended College Conference East that winter, and it opened my eyes to the expansive world of OCF outside of my eight person chapter in Omaha, Nebraska. At College Conference, praying alongside hundreds of students more similar to myself than anyone at my university, I knew I was where I belonged. I wasn’t about to let any opportunity to feel that love again, to feel such oneness with Christ and with my fellow Orthodox Christians, slip through my fingers. I submitted my application with a hopeful heart.

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Three months later I found myself boarding a plane to New York, heading to SLI to train for the newly-minted position of Midwest Regional Student Leader. For the duration of SLI, I found myself constantly marveling at my fellow members of the board. These were people I was not only blessed to have as friends, but incredible Orthodox Christians who inspired me to grow in my own relationship with Christ. I remember keeping a note open on my phone throughout the week, constantly jotting down book titles referenced during group discussions or small pieces of wisdom shared at the dinner table. This became a theme throughout my entire experience on the SLB. The love of Christ pervades every text, every conference call, and every email shared among the board. The members of the SLB have come to occupy a very special place in my heart, and I can confidently say that I would not be the Orthodox Christian I am today without these incredible people.

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I returned from SLI with more than just a longer to-do list and thorough understanding of the OCF Google Drive. I developed a deep rooted sense of responsibility for OCF on a national level, and a drive to share this amazing community with others. Most importantly, my time on the SLB instilled in me a newfound faith in the Orthodox spirit. I’ve worked throughout the year planning retreats and working with chapters new and old across the Midwest. Every interaction strengthens my conviction that OCF is the single most important aspect of my college experience. I do not have a doubt in my mind that the SLB entered my life by the grace of God, and I consider myself blessed every day to work with this remarkable group of people.

As Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J. once said:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is than falling in love in a quite absolute final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how your spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

I invite you to apply to the SLB, and to fall in love with the ministry that has my heart. And in this, let all you do be for the Glory of God.

 

APPLY TO THE 2016 – 2017 STUDENT LEADERSHIP BOARD TODAY!


IMG_3840Nicole Petrow is a sophomore studying Classical & Near Eastern Civilizations and Classical Languages at Creighton University. She currently serves as the Midwest Regional Student Leader on the Student Leadership Board. She loves dusty bookstores, cozy coffee shops and convincing her parents that someday she’ll be able to find a job with a Classics degree.