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Dept. of College Ministry News

Tribute Dinner and New Endowment Fund Honor OCF Founder, Bishop Dimitrios

OCF Honorary Dinner for His Grace, Bishop DimitriosOCF Honorary Dinner for His Grace, Bishop DimitriosJACKSONVILLE, FL [OCF/OCA] -- Orthodox Christian Fellowship honored its founder, His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, at a tribute dinner at the San Jose Country Club here on Friday, September 17, 2010.

As a recent seminary graduate in the 1960s, Bishop Dimitrios (James Couchell) was the driving force in establishing what has become the joint campus ministry arm of all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in North America.

The dinner gathered clergy and laity from throughout North America to honor Bishop Dimitrios’ dedication and devotion to college students and to celebrate the ever-growing network that OCF has been able to build upon the foundation he laid years ago.

At the dinner, the OCF Board of Directors announced the establishment of the Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos Orthodox Christian Fellowship Ministry Endowment, which has been created to sustain and further the ministries of OCF. The fund was initiated with a $100,000.00 anonymous donation.

"Bishop Dimitrios has offered so much to Orthodox Christianity in North America and throughout the world in various capacities," said OCF Board of Directors Chairman and Interim Executive Director, Rev. Mark Leondis. Specifically, his efforts on behalf of college students are significant and this recognition of his work is long overdue."

In conjunction with the dinner, members of the OCF Board of Directors, the Regional Chaplains Network, and the Student Advisory Board met.

Those who are interested in participating in the Bishop Dimitrios Ministry Endowment are encouraged to contact OCF Development Director Presvytera Shyla Hadzellis at 800-919-1623.

OCF to Present Interfaith Debate at University of Maryland

The Orthodox Christian Fellowship of UMBC, in collaboration with the Secular Student Association of UMBC, is excited to present to the campus community and the general public a debate entitled, “The Source of Human Morality: Interfaith Debate.” How do we define morality? Do people need God to be moral? If not, where do our morals come from? Are good works behavioral, biological, or biblical? What does it mean to be human? The Secular Student Alliance at UMBC and the Orthodox Christian Fellowship at UMBC have come together to present a debate on the topic of human morality-- what is it, how do we know we have it, and where does it come from? Two presenters, with wildly different backgrounds and philosophies will face off on this topic, in the common interest of pursuing truth.

Our Speakers:

Matt Dillahunty is the president of the Atheist Community of Austin, and host of the popular public access television and internet show "The Atheist Experience." He was raised as a fundamentalist Baptist, and was on track to become a minister until he started asking questions about the reasons for his belief. He rejected religion, and now serves as a public voice for rationality and secular morality.

Father Hans Jacobse is an Antiochian Orthodox Priest, who administers the website Orthodoxy Today and heads the American Orthodox Institute. Fr. Hans is convinced that Orthodox Christianity has an important part to play in American moral renewal. He views the current world as a battle between competing moral visions of the secular and the sacred, and hopes that Christianity can restore the moral tradition of the

Event Information:

OCF's College Student Sunday is Sept. 19

OCF has announced their annual event, College Student Sunday, which will take place Sunday Sept. 19, 2010.

Writes the OCF, "Over the past 50 years, campus ministry has made a presence in the Orthodox Church. We would like to ask all of you to make a presence this year for Orthodox college students at your parish. Now more than ever is the time to raise awareness.

Over the past few years the national average of young adults leaving the Church has been 6 out of 10. Recently the Pew Research Institute declared the average is quickly growing to 7 out of 10. We would like to encourage each of you to visit our website to find the resources you will need to conduct a presentation. If you are unable to make the presentation, please ask some to fill in for you. Thank you for your support of campus ministry!!!"

Endorsed by the Episcopal Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in North America, this observance is designed to draw attention to the importance of ministering to our college age Orthodox Christian Students. Parishes are reminded that young Orthodox Christians are attending college in their cities and towns, and the faithful are encouraged to connect with these college students in order to provide a parish home away from home. For more information, contact the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) to honor His Grace Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos

Fishers, IN – August 19, 2010

The OCF Board of Directors will be honoring His Grace Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos for his tremendous contributions in establishing Orthodox Christian Fellowship with a celebratory dinner in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 17, 2010. 

Beginning in 1960 as a recent seminary graduate, Bishop Dimitrios (James Couchell) was the driving force in establishing what has become the all-important campus ministry arm of the Orthodox Church. Inspired by his dedication and devotion to college students, OCF has been able to build upon the foundation he laid 50 years ago.

In the year 2000 OCF experienced a renewal, which included the strong and continuing support of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. Recognizing these two milestones, this fall marks the 50th anniversary of OCF’s creation and the 10th anniversary of its current efforts.

In addition to the dinner, OCF will be holding its annual Board of Directors, Chaplain’s Network and Student Advisory Board meetings throughout the weekend. These planning meetings will lead into OCF’s College Student Sunday on September 19th, which was designated by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) as the Sunday after the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross. On this day, Orthodox Christians are asked to call to mind, support and prayer all of our college students.

St. Katherine, Orthodox Liberal Arts College, Founded in San Diego

In the fall of 2011, a new institution will open its doors to the Orthodox community. St. Katherine College in San Diego, California, will commence the first year of classes, offering an emphasis in Composition, English Language and Literature, Foreign Language, U.S. Government and History, Economics, Mathematics, and the Sciences. As to affiliation, the website explains that "The College community is independent, but it is closely associated with the Orthodox Christian community." Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dr. Scott Cairns, and Dr. Vladimir Morosan are all listed as faculty, among several other Orthodox academic luminaries.

Recently, interviewed Vicki Brannock, St. Katherine College's Executive Director for Communications and Recruitment.

1. Tell us about your academic approach.

Of course the academic emphasis is important to us. We are selecting staff that represents the best in Orthodox academia and are working to strike a balance between the well established (Fr. Thomas Hopko, Scott Cairns) visiting professors and mid-level and younger faculty that we believe will make significant impact on the future.

OCF Releases Spring Edition of WITNESS

Orthodox Christian Fellowship has released the annual edition of WITNESS, the lively online student review that profiles Orthodox leaders, encourages campus activism for the faith, and highlights ministry opportunities for college students. (To subscribe to OCF's Headliner and Witness Listserv, contact Student Editor Arianna at:

In this issue's opening reflection, Stevie Hull writes, "I entered my professor's office and, not without a bit of hesitation, announced that I would be missing 'Introduction to Ancient Greek' to attend Holy Week services. This was two years ago, when I was a sophomore and Pascha did not fall on the same day as western Easter. He turned towards me in surprise. 'Are you Greek? Your last name's not Greek. Is it your mother's side?'

'No,' I said.


'No. I'm American. I converted to Orthodoxy.'

He stared at me, stunned, for a few moments before blurting out, 'Why?'

This caught me off guard, so I offered the first explanation that surfaced in my head: 'To escape nihilism.'

That put an abrupt end to our conversation. Two years later, I learned that the professor in question is a self-professed nihilist. But even without this hilarious conclusion, my professor's initial shock at my profession of faith left its mark on me. I realized that, in my department, I was like an exhibit at a circus sideshow. And I was going to be watched."

Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries Announces Two New Brochures

In conjunction with Conciliar Press, the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family MInistries has released two much-requested brochures for Orthodox Christians. "Crowned with Glory and Honor," a free, downloadable brochure, presents readers with a set of helpful guidelines for Orthodox marriage preparation, including such concepts as the meaning of crowning, and the purpose of the Betrothal Service. Readers will even learn about the wedding almonds: "The white coating symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and new life that begins in marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage, and the sweetness of the sugar encourages the hope of the sweetness of future life together. Giving of three almonds signifies the union is indivisible, just as the bride and groom will remain undivided in their union with each other and with Christ."

The second brochure, "A Guide to Parish Etiquette," lists everything parishioners need to know about respectful and reverent behavior while in liturgy. Department Director Khouria Maggie Hock encourages all parishes, couples and families to make use of these valuable, free resources.

OCF Invites New Members to Student Activity Board

Are you a Student Leader?

OCF offers students the opportunity to lend their voice to this ministry by serving on the Student Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB was instituted in 2002 with an enthusiastic and God centered group of young people. This inaugural SAB initiated integral OCF programming such as Day of Prayer and organization of regional OCF structure. These student leaders have now moved on to leadership within the Orthodox Church serving in positions such as the OCF Board of Directors and Greek Archdiocese Department of Internet Ministries. Subsequent SAB's have continued the inspiring vision set forth by the first SAB.

Do you have the interest, the passion, and the dedication to be a part of the newest chapter in the Student Advisory Board? Applications are now available.

Click here for further information concerning SAB available positions and job expectations.

McMurry University Welcomes Orthodox Students

Fr. Philip LeMasters, pastor of St. Luke Orthodox Church, has taught Religion at McMurry University in Abilene, TX, for fifteen years and will soon become the Interim Dean of Social Sciences and Religion. He has been very pleased with the openness of the United Methodist-related school to Orthodox believers. Fr. Philip says, “McMurry allowed our parish to worship for our first five years free of charge in the college chapel.” A small group of faculty and students join him for an on-campus Akathist on Thursday afternoons, and his Orthodox Theology class has a healthy enrollment. An Orthodox student is currently doing an “Internship in Christian Ministry” at St. Luke for McMurry course credit.

Click here to read more

Orthodox Christian Fellowship Holds Spring Board Meeting

OCF BoardOCF BoardCHICAGO, IL, 5/04 -- The spring meeting of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship Board of Directors was held at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral April 22-23, 2010.

Board members discussed a wide range of topics and evaluated the delegation of day-to-day responsibilities, due to the recent vacancy of the executive director position, in order to ensure the normal operations of the OCF offices in Fishers, IN. Ongoing preparations for programs -- College Conference, Real Break, College Student Sunday, and Day of Prayer -- will be overseen by various board members. A search committee was formed to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the executive director position and to develop a formal search process, which will begin at a later date. Father Mark Leondis, OCF Board Chair, serves as the Interim executive director.

A report prepared by Brigham and Nahas Research Associates, summarizing student focus group surveys carried out in December at the East Coast College Conference at Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania, was reviewed. Seventy of the 238 student participants volunteered to take part in the surveys, which provided valuable insight into the effectiveness of the OCF ministry. Board members initiated a process to strategize methods of utilizing the results of the report, which was performed in cooperation with the Office of Vocational Ministry at Holy Cross School of Theology.

Second Annual Encountering Eastern Orthodoxy Conference at Hope College, Holland, MI

April 12-13, 2010 + Hope College + Holland, Michigan

The 2nd Annual Encountering Eastern Orthodoxy Conference presents…

Let God Arise (and let His enemies be scattered):

The RESURRECTION of CHRIST in Eastern Orthodox Theology & Worship
with Deacon Nicholas V. Belcher, M.Div., Dean of Students, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology - Boston, MA, and guests, including His Grace Bishop MARK of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest

+For complete description & campus map, please visit

Click here to download flyer (PDF)

OCF Forms Regional Chaplaincy Network

L. to r.: Fr. Mark Leondis, Fr. George Gartelos, Fr. Nicholas Hadzellis, Fr. Martin Kraus, Fr. Alex Micich, Fr. Kevin Scherer, Fr. James Coles, Fr. Michael Ellis, Fr. Peter Paproski, Fr. Anthony Salzman, Dn. Paul Zaharas and Sbdn. John MahfouzL. to r.: Fr. Mark Leondis, Fr. George Gartelos, Fr. Nicholas Hadzellis, Fr. Martin Kraus, Fr. Alex Micich, Fr. Kevin Scherer, Fr. James Coles, Fr. Michael Ellis, Fr. Peter Paproski, Fr. Anthony Salzman, Dn. Paul Zaharas and Sbdn. John MahfouzTEMPE, AZ --- On February 4-5th, 2010, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), in partnership with a very generous grant from The Order of St. Ignatius, gathered a group of Board members and priests, from across five different SCOBA jurisdictions, to form the first-ever OCF Regional Chaplaincy Network.  In order to meet the pastoral needs of the 270 local OCF chapters throughout the United States and Canada, OCF has broken the country into nine different regions.  A Regional Chaplain and a Student Regional Representative will represent each of these regions.  Together these roles will assist with the development of new and existing OCF chapters.

“Identifying a group of talented and committed spiritual leaders to help build this network is a critical step in helping OCF create a spiritual safety net for our students as they leave home for college,” remarked Fr. James Coles, the OCF North American Chaplain.

Besides the organizational administration of this new network, the group discussed ideas and plans for Chaplain training and resources. Fr. Kevin Scherer, the OCF Executive Director said, “It’s our hope that this new network will not only help grow new OCF chapters, but resource those that are struggling to develop and stay connected to other Orthodox students across the country.”

OCF Releases Transitions DVD

Fishers, IN – January 15, 2010

In response to the growing concerns that Orthodox students are leaving their family roots in the Church, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has produced a gripping, high definition documentary film and launched a complimentary webpage.

“We decided that we had to do the film after reading that only 7% of incoming freshmen could identify a Christian organization on campus before arriving,” said Executive Director, Fr. Kevin Scherer. “They’ve prepared themselves academically for that transition, but there’s been little or no preparation spiritually.” 

This just released DVD captures the honest and unedited interviews of eight different students and their transition from high school to college. Their stories cover everything from leaving home and friends to the temptations and pressures of modern college life. “We made this film to start a dialogue. We want parents, priests and students to use this DVD to talk about what’s likely to happen emotionally and spiritually during four of the most important years of a person’s life,” said Fr. Kevin.

2010 OCF Day of Prayer

“Let my prayers rise up as incense and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.”  Psalm 142

Fishers, IN – February 2, 2010 

Each year, college students across North America join together in offering their prayers for Orthodox Christian Fellowship’s Day of Prayer held on Clean Monday.

On February 15, 2010, OCF chapters will take part in 24 hours of unceasing prayer. Each school will take a one-hour slot to pray for themselves, their chapters and their fellow students.

Contact your local OCF chapter if you would like them to include your name on their prayer list. If you would like to sign-up your chapter, please contact Kelli Phillips, OCF Program Director at or visit

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


2010 Francis Maria Scholarship Applications Now Available

Through a generous gift of the Francis Maria Foundation for Justice and Peace, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America will once again grant several scholarships in the amount of $2,500 to students attending an accredited College.

Scholarships will be granted each July. Completed 2010 Francis Maria Scholarship Application and all supporting documentation must be postmarked by May 15, 2010.

For more information, please visit Click here to download an application (PDF).

OCF Encourages College Students to Sign Up for Real Break

This Spring Break, over one hundred college students have the opportunity to make a real change for those less fortunate through Orthodox Christian Fellowship's Real Break program.

Real Break is an alternative spring break service-learning program designed to provide college students with life-transforming experiences that strengthen their faith and broaden their Christian world-view. OCF offers several trips to locations all around the globe where students have the opportunity to serve and minister to the poor with compassion and humility.

Students can sign up for Real Break at:

OCF College Conference Registration Extended Until December 10

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is extending registration for College Conference 2009 until December 10. College Conference 2009 is December 27-31, 2009. The Antiochian Village in Bolivar, Pennsylvania is the home to OCF's largest conference. Reconnect with old friends and make new ones at this dynamic 5-day event. This year's theme is "Building Community," (II Corinthians 13:14). OCF is very honored to have His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah as this year's Keynote Speaker, as well as several dynamic workshop speakers. Cost is $325 for students and $375 for alumni.

To register for College Conference, visit  For questions, please email OCF Program Director Kelli Phillips at

Generous Grant Supports OCF Programming

Fishers, IN – November 11, 2009

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) continues to receive funding from the Lilly Endowment in support of its Just Love service learning programs, having recently been awarded a matching grant of $35,000. The grant comes as part of the Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PETV).

In the past year, OCF has been able to add several new service learning programs due to the support of the Lilly Endowment. One of these programs, Just Love, is an inner-city immersion program designed to allow students to spend a day serving the poor of their city, learn about the complexity of poverty and the challenges facing the poor, and how we are called as Christians to respond.

Another new program these funds will go to support is the Pilgrimage for Justice. This yearly event brings students together from throughout North America to experience and reflect upon some of the harsh realities of injustice in our world today such as human trafficking and homelessness. The very first Pilgrimage was held in June of this year and incorporated simulated activities, reflective exercises, and prayer to challenge students to live out the Gospel each day of their lives.

FOCUS sponsors Youth Equipped to Serve (YES) Weekend in Kansas City

September 29th, 2009 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

This past weekend, a team of 20 youth participated in FOCUS North America’s YES Program (formerly known as OYO), serving our most needy neighbors in Kansas City.

They arrived from parishes in Wichita, KS, Oklahoma City, OK, and Kansas City, eager to be used by God to meet the fundamental needs of His people. They did not expect, however, that they would receive much more from the experience than they would give. After three intense days, the youth gained a new perspective on the poor and homeless: they came expecting to serve them, but, instead, found their own lives forever changed by the encounter.

“They are just like us,” one participant said. Another said, “I don’t know how anyone can come on a FOCUS North America YES trip and not be changed.”

Living out Matthew 25, the youth engaged in several social action projects throughout the weekend. They served and ate dinner with many homeless and working poor in the city, listening to their stories and enjoying fellowship with them. They distributed clothing to mothers who had no means to clothe their children. They walked around the famous outdoor Country Club Plaza in Kansas City with newly opened eyes, looking beyond the glamour to perceive and meet the needs of the homeless on the streets. But, as the youth realized, they themselves were fed and clothed by the face-to-face encounter with real living icons of Christ, with the poor of the city. As one participant said, “They really open themselves to you; they’ll sit and talk to you forever, when most people in school will never give their time to you like that.”

Registration Begins for OCF College Conference 2009 on September 20th

Fishers, IN – September 16, 2009

Registration for 2009 College Conference opens Sunday, September 20th and runs through December 1st. “Building Community” (II Corinthians 13:14) is the chosen theme for this year’s conference. Identical conferences will run simultaneously from December 27-31 in two locations: the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, Pennsylvania and the Diakonia Center in Salem, South Carolina. 

OCF is honored this year to announce that His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah will be the keynote speaker at the Antiochian Village. Additionally, The Very Reverend Father Jon Braun will be delivering the keynote addresses at the Diakonia Center.

Registration is $325 for students and $375 for alumni. Included in the registration fee are transformative keynote addresses and inspiring workshops, social events, a dinner/dance, memories and friendships that will last a lifetime as well as lodging and meals.  

Space is limited so register early. Some scholarships are available.  Please visit or call 1-800-919-1623 for more information. 

For additional information contact:

Kelli Phillips

Program Director,
Orthodox Christian Fellowship

College Student Sunday + September 20, 2009

“Keeping our College Students Connected to the Church”


A discussion of College Student Sunday on the OCN Now podcast

Fishers, IN – September 16, 2009

Since 2003, the Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) have designated the Sunday following the Elevation of the Holy Cross as OCF College Student Sunday. They ask all faithful Orthodox Christians in North America to call to mind and prayer our college students. We invite you to read the 2009 SCOBA College Student Sunday Encyclical at

OCF’s mission is to help Our Youth discover that it is communion with God, through life in the Church, which gives real meaning and significance to life.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship is Our Campus Ministry. It exists to come alongside families and parishes to provide solutions. OCF provides curricula, educational DVDs, service learning encounters and an interactive website that help our students apply their faith in their daily lives. On a program level, OCF offers large-scale, transformative opportunities annually, such as College Conference and Real Break.

Currently, we have 270 local college/university chapters in the United States and Canada. Together these individual chapters represent the backbone of the OCF ministry and Our Future of the Orthodox Church in North America.

Audio Available of Department of College Ministry Presentation at Archdiocese Convention

Click here to listen to the presentation from Ms. Cathy Abraham at the general assembly of the 2009 Archdiocese Convention.

More audio from the 2009 Convention is available from Ancient Faith Radio.

Real Break trip to Constantinople

Read daily progress reports here.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) is pleased to announce another Real Break trip to Constantinople.  Real Break Constantinople serves God and other people while participating in the life of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  His Grace Bishop SAVAS, the newly appointed Director of Church and Society of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will lead the group assisted by the Rev. Mark Leondis the National Youth Director for the GOA and Chairman of the Board of Orthodox Christian Fellowship and the Rev. Dr. Christopher T. Metropulos the Executive Director of OCN (The Orthodox Christian Network) and the Pastor of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  The Real Break Trip to Istanbul, Turkey begins on March 14, 2009.

The group consists of 22 participants from five different Orthodox Christian jurisdictions.  The college students from around the country are traveling to Constantinople to receive the blessings of His All Holiness and refurbish a church and a cemetery that has fallen into disrepair.  Fr. Kevin Scherer, Executive Director of OCF commented, "OCF is honored to have the opportunity to assist the Ecumenical Patriarch in his efforts to restore and maintain the parishes of his ancient see.  This Real Break trip in particular provides our students with a transformative perspective into both the past and the present struggles of our Church.  The participants will work hard in a very short span of time."

Orthodox Christian Fellowship Launches New Web Site

Fishers, IN – March 6, 2009

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has designed and created a brand new website,, using the very latest technology to connect with the world's most powerful social networking engine known as Facebook. OCF is one of the first websites to utilize the new technology called Facebook Connect.  Facebook Connect allows external networks such as to gain access and share information. This new website connects every local OCF chapter in North America, and establishes an online community for each of our students without competing with Facebook. The website allows the individual user to interact with one another and each of our programs in a very dynamic way.  Students can upload and download media, blog, view podcasts and provide regular feedback and commentary.  Clergy, youth workers and parents can find articles and curriculum. It provides our ministry an excellent platform for community and communication. Visit us today at!