My name is Basil Vergados, and I participated in the 2015 Northeast OCF Retreat! As a college freshman and Orthodox Christian, I have found that maintaining a relationship with Christ is of the utmost importance in college. It gives one a sense of peace in a new environment, and setting aside even five minutes for prayer or Gospel reading can actually yield more focus than that seventh cup of coffee the day before exams. Yet in college, it is easy to forget that a relationship with other Orthodox Christians can be just as important as our relationship with Christ. OCF is one such way to forge this spiritual fellowship, and at the Northeast OCF conference I was able to see firsthand the fruits of this holy program.
I got to meet new friends, as well as reconnect with my old friends from other parishes of our Metropolis. We sat down for a discussion lead by Fr. Patrick of the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Allston MA, and together we shared our perspectives on different issues that are so important to Christians in today’s society. This was followed by a beautiful Vespers service, and then some icebreaker games. One of my favorite parts of the night actually took place afterward, right before we went to bed. Some of us went back into the church and held a small Akathist service, illumined by the physical light of a few candles and the spiritual light of Christ.
The next morning we brought breakfast to some of the homeless people in Boston and sat down to spoke with them. Personally, this was very edifying because it helped me learn how to see Christ’s divine image in every person, no matter what life they lived. One of the people we had breakfast with even told us that God was the only strength he had in life, and he thanked God for leading us to him and keeping him company. I was astounded by the man’s faith, and when we went back to the church we were able to reflect and share in each other’s experiences.
The 2015 NorthEast conference was a wonderful way for me to grow as a Christian, nurture my relationship with others, and frankly, it was so much fun. I encourage any college student reading this to search for their local OCF chapter and join me in anticipation for the Fall 2016 Northeast OCF Retreat. God bless!
Basil Vergados is a first year at University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He hails from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston where he participated in the MBC summer camp and is a Hellenic American Academy alumni.
Hey Northeastern OCFers! In case you didn’t know, you have a Regional Retreat coming up in a few short weeks from September 18th to September 19th in Boston. To give you a better idea of what to expect, I asked your Northeast Student Leader, Alex Kuvshinoff, a couple of questions.
Q: What can students expect to happen at the retreat?
Students attending the Northeast Regional Retreat can expect to have a full day of service projects. As is written in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Many students struggle to find time to give back to the community around them, and with the Northeast Regional Retreat, college students can come together in a peer setting and serve others.
Q: Why should someone come to the retreat?
Students should come to the retreat because it is a rare opportunity that they can only seize now, while in school. Academic institutions are full of many different views and life styles. But the Northeast Retreat allows students to spend time with like minded individuals that share the same Orthodox Christian values, while working synergistically to help others. Additionally, the retreat is a good break from the typical college weekends that are more than plentiful throughout the year. Finally, students will have an opportunity to explore the amazing city of Boston!
Q: How can students get to the retreat?
Students have a multitude of ways to get to the retreat. It will be located in Boston at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. Students are encouraged to car pool with members of their OCF. However, if no other students are going from your school, students can contact me (Alex) at email@example.com, and I can link you up with other students traveling from schools nearby. Lastly, students can use trains or buses. Both run frequently to Boston from most cities in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and surrounding states.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the retreat?
I am most looking forward to sleeping over in the church. There is something peaceful about waking up and walking down the hall to service. It is truly the best way to start the day. Also, I am excited to serve someone else in need. It is easy to forget about others when we are in college because we are so focused on ourselves and piecing together our futures. But, the retreat will give students an opportunity to step out of the bubble and help those truly in need.
Alex would also like to add that for students in Upstate New York and Toronto Canada area that are far removed from Boston and can’t make it, we have good news! On Saturday, September 26th from 11-1pm, The well renowned Metropolitan Kallistos Ware will be speaking to college students at the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Buffalo. You can register for that event here. We look forward to seeing you in Boston and Buffalo in September!