More Than Just a Profile Picture

More Than Just a Profile Picture

578710_10151063063219244_1407120850_nBlack-and-white OCF logos are flooding my Facebook newsfeed. It’s official – Orthodox Awareness Month 2015 is in full swing.

Surely we’ve all made the effort to share an enlightening quote from our favorite saint, to post a photo from our past Real Break trip, or to invite our Facebook friends to listen to an Ancient Faith Radio podcast they would rather listen to than study. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be one of the biggest, furthest-reaching Orthodox Awareness Months ever, and I congratulate you all for taking the time to plant these seeds for others to see.

But now that we have all changed our profile pictures I’m left questioning,

What is Orthodox Awareness Month?

It seems like a silly question, right? But what are we called to do in order to fully embrace OAM as college students? As student leaders? As witnesses of Christ in the modern world?

I also find myself asking, have I done anything this month to embrace OAM in my prayer life? In service to others?

Or, generally, have I done anything more than change my profile picture?

As we are reaching the half-way point of OAM, these are important questions to ask. But even more important is how we choose to answer them on our college campuses.

It is only appropriate that the theme for OCF this year is Modern Martyrs: Witnesses of the Word. The phrase Modern Martyr isn’t one we hear often, but when we break it down it offers us a unique viewpoint from which we can approach living our lives for Christ.

When we think of the first martyrs, we think of the Roman Empire before the legalization of Christianity, and call to mind those blessed saints who refused to deny Christ by worshiping pagan idols. These martyrs bore witness to Christ in a society that would not accept Him.

Following the legalization of Christianity, martyrdom transformed. Monasticism became a new type of martyrdom, and the great Desert Fathers became a model for ending a worldly life for a life of prayer and fasting. These martyrs bore witness to Christ by fleeing the world.

Thus martyrdom, or the way we bear witness to Christ, has changed and evolved to fit its landscape over the centuries. Societies, peoples, ideologies, and governments have all changed, and so too have Christ’s saints changed with it. Christians became martyrs during WWII, under communism, during the Crusades, and more.

In so many ways, these martyrs “changed their profile pictures” – or more accurately, through their actions they changed the image of how the world saw them. They weren’t seen in pride, in vanity, or as slaves to their passions, but rather the profile picture they showed to the world was the image of Christ.

Which brings us to ask, what does martyrdom look like today?

Are we comfortable crossing ourselves before we eat in the dining hall? Are we prepared to be labeled as haters and bigots when we stand behind the Orthodox Church’s teachings on marriage and abortion? Would we be ready, as were the students whose lives were taken in Oregon, to declare Christ’s name in the face of a gun?

All of these situations, and more, are actual scenarios in which we may find the opportunity to change our profile picture for Christ. Thus, embracing Orthodox Awareness Month becomes more than just changing our profile pictures on social media; it challenges us to prepare ourselves to become perfect images of Christ.

By keeping this in mind and following the model of the martyrs and the saints before us, we will surely humble ourselves to others and bear witness to Christ in our modern world.

About the Author

DSC_0206Andrew Abboud graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in Biological Sciences and Religious Studies. He is continuing his education as a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh. Andrew was the Chairman of the 2014-2015 OCF Student Leadership Board, and he loves taking any chance he gets to stay involved with the ministry which afforded him so much.

October is Orthodox Awareness Month

October is Orthodox Awareness Month


OAM LogoThroughout the month of October, join OCF in learning more about our Orthodox faith, sharing it with others, and growing together as a community. This year, we ask that you join us in again in the #ShareAThon by sharing quotes, photos, articles, podcasts, and videos on social media with the hashtags #ShareAThon and #OAM15 to share the beauty of our Orthodox faith with others.


Chapters are also encouraged to “Take the Challenge” by submitting media throughout the month of their chapter participating in fellowship, education, worship, and service. Chapters will be awarded points based on their submissions, and the chapters with the most points at the end of the month will win OCF prize packages.


To learn more about how you can participate in Orthodox Awareness Month, click here.

College Student Sunday: What Your Parish Can Do

College Student Sunday: What Your Parish Can Do

I am thankful every time we get a call or an email from a parent, priest, Philoptochos chapter, or parish council asking what they can do to help our young people get connected to an OCF chapter, reach out to their local campus, or assist in the growth of the National, pan-Orthodox ministry of OCF. It reassures me that we as a Church are committed to seeing our students succeed and grow as Orthodox Christians.

Well, everyone, here’s your chance.

Students offer prayers for passersby on campus as part of Day of Light.

Students offer prayers for passersby on campus as part of Day of Light.

College Student Sunday is the day designated by the Assembly of Bishops for every parish to recognize their college students, raise awareness about Orthodox campus ministry, and contribute to Orthodox Christian Fellowship. The date now falls during OCF’s Orthodox Awareness Month. So while our students are loving striving to spread the word about Orthodoxy on their campuses and in their lives, the rest of us have the opportunity to loving spread the word about and support their good work and the ministry of OCF.

So what can your parish do this year to make College Student Sunday a success?

  1. Give a presentation. Invite your local OCF chapter or a student from your parish to give a short testimonial to the impact OCF has had on their lives.
  2. Do something to recognize your college students. Host a lunch, make care packages, or even just mention OCF and Orthodox Awareness Month from the pulpit.
  3. Designate a Parish Liaison. This year, we would like parishes to designate one person–a Sunday School teacher, a secretary, a parish council member, any willing volunteer–to be the OCF parish liaison. Through the Parish Liaison Program, we will be able to keep your community informed about all that we do and collaborate with you on initiatives such as the First Forty Days. If you are interested in learning more, click here.
  4. Make a donation. We ask that you pass a tray on behalf of OCF this year and send your collection to the National Office. You can also direct your parishioners to to set up both one-time and recurring donations.
  5. Become a Parish Partner. For those parishes that would like to make the strongest commitment to Orthodox campus ministry and our Church’s young people, we encourage you to become a Parish Partner. In addition to designating a Parish Liaison to keep your community informed and prepared as advocates for Orthodox campus ministry, your parish would make an annual financial commitment to OCF to ensure its continued success and growth for generations of Orthodox college students to come. You can email us at for more details about Parish Partnerships.

Whatever you do for College Student Sunday this year, we ask that you keep our students–your students–in your prayers as they hold fast to the Tradition of our Orthodox Faith in the face of the many challenges which campus life presents. Your love and support make possible so many beautiful opportunities for these students to encounter Christ and deepen their faith.

A recent testimonial from a student on their OCF experience.

A recent testimonial from a student on their OCF experience.

Click here for College Student Sunday materials!