OCN Partners with Fellow SCOBA Agencies to Address Virginia Tech Tragedy
April 26, 2007
Orthodox Christian Network partnering with fellow SCOBA agencies OCF and IOCC, will present special programming all next week (April 30-May 5) concerning our Orthodox Christian response to the tragic events at Virginia Tech on April 16th of this year.
2006 Bishops Conference Available Online
Fr. Chris Metropulos, founder and Executive Director of OCN, spoke to many Orthodox Christians who are on the front line of serving the students and faculty there at Virginia Tech as they seek to heal from the horrible shooting that took 33 lives.
“Our Orthodox faith has something unique to offer those who suffer from this tragic loss of life. Especially during this Paschal season, the message of the risen Christ provides both hope and peace even in the face of such evil” said Fr. Chris.
OCN will produce a special Come Receive The Light radio program, preempting regular scheduled programming, to air this weekend in over 150 communities across the nation. This program will be excerpts from the many interviews we recorded to present our Orthodox Christian response to these events and to showcase the work of our fellow SCOBA agencies in serving the hurting and seeking.
The Ark, OCN's 24 hour internet radio ministry, will air these interviews in their entirety the following week on the schedule below:
Monday (April 30)
Rev. Aristotle Damaskos - Holy Trinity Cathedral, Toledo, Ohio
Fr. Damaskos delivered a sermon at his church on the air which was widely distributed in print form around the Orthodox world.
Dr. Albert Rossi - Director of Field Education at St. Vladimir's Seminary, Licensed Clinical Psychologist in New York State. A frequent guest on OCN programs will examine the tragedy and our ability as human beings to fully comprehend the message not only of the disaster but how our faith in Jesus Christ brings healing.
Tuesday (May 1)
Rev. Kevin Scherer - Executive Director of OCF
Interviewed on the campus of VT which he visited with others to assist the students during the crisis
Wednesday (May 2)
Three first responders participated in a Conference call having just arrived on the campus several days prior. IOCC working along side of another SCOBA agency sent three clergymen trained in responding to disasters to assist Fr. Kevin, Fr. Dean Nastos the local OCF Chaplain and others. They have also had experience in responding to other catastrophes such as 9/11 and hurricane Katrina.
Rev. Angelo Pappas- Pastor of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Portsmouth, NH
Rev. Peter Preble- Pastor of St. Michael Romanian Orthodox Church, Southbridge, Mass.
Deacon Rafael Barberg- serving the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Niagara Falls, NY and a Policeman in Buffalo, NY
Rev. Dean Nastos- Pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Roanoke, Virginia, Chaplain of the OCF Chapter on the campus of VT.
Anna Furry- President of the local OCF Chapter on the campus of VT.
Thursday (May 3)
Anthoula Katsimatides - Former Aide to Governor Pataki of New York State. Worked with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation an agency created by the Governor to rebuild Lower Manhattan and a proper memorial for the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Anthoula will speak of her personal experience offering assistance to those who lost loved ones as probably only few can. Anthoula lost her brother John on 9/11. She speaks about recovering from the hurt as it relates to the tragedy at VT.
Friday (May 4)
Rod Dreher - Columnist and Editorial writer at the Dallas Morning News.
A recent convert from Roman Catholicism and author of "Crunchy Con" on Beliefnet.com. Reflects on the tragedy from the perspective of having to cover the disaster himself in the light of his faith.
Saturday (May 5)
Eleni Alexiou - LCSW Director of Outreach and Groups, Counselor Specialist at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, Florida. Eleni reflects on the issue of the tragedy as a counselor dealing with students, though they were not on the VT campus, but affected none the less.
Visit www.receive.org and find out about times these special podcasts will be available on The Ark. Learn more about how the Orthodox Christian churches are reaching out and offering the life-changing message of the Orthodox Christian faith to a hurting world.
Visit our web site at www.receive.org and listen to The Ark to hear these new teaching program resources and podcasts. And keep watching our site for our third radio ministry - the Rudder - that will feature Orthodox liturgical music from all over the world.
OCN is a commissioned agency of SCOBA, the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, and our Orthodox hierarchs have directed OCN to find effective ways to use modern media to raise awareness of our Orthodox faith in the minds of the general population and to be an “assistant” to local parish priests in keeping our faithful attached to the Church between worship services.
For more information contact:
Chuck Powell, Development Director
May 1, 2007
All workshops and presentations of the 2006 Canonical Orthodox Bishops Conference, held in Chicago, Oct. 3-6, 2006, are now available online at www.scoba.us. Additionally, each parish included within the SCOBA jurisdictions will be receiving a complimentary DVD of all of the presentations.
OCF Responds to Tragedy at Virginia Tech
Twenty-seven canonical hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), under the chairmanship of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, met to “solidify the bond of brotherhood that exists among the canonical Orthodox Churches in the Americas”. The Conference was the third such Conference, the two previous being held in 1991 (Ligonier, PA) and 2001(Washington, DC). The workshops and the presentations on the SCOBA Agencies, Commissions and Endorsed groups offered the hierarchs an increased awareness of the work and outreach of SCOBA.
The Workshops and their presenters are: Issues in Coordinating and Establishing New and Mission Parishes (Fr. Jonathan Ivanoff); Discussion on Sexual Misconduct in the Church (Fr. Alexander Karlgut); Keeping Young People Connected to the Church (Fr. Mark Leondis, Fr. Johnathan Tobias, Fr. Kevin Sherer and Ms. Natalie Kapeluk); The Diaconate (Rev.Dr. John Chryssavgis and Dr. Kyriaki FitzGerald) and Teaching in the Church: Witness in Society (Rev. Dr. Stanley Harakas),
SCOBA Agencies: International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), Mr. Dean Triantafilou, Ex. Director; Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), Fr. Martin Ritsi, Ex. Director; Orthodox Christian Network (OCN), Fr. Chris Metropulos, Ex.Director; Orthodox Christian Fellowship(OCF), Fr. Kevin Scherer, Ex.Director; Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting (EOCS), Mr. George Boulukos, Ex.Director and Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM), Mr. Kory Warr, President.
SCOBA Commissions: Ecumenical, Rev.Dr. Thomas Fitzgerald; Social & Moral Issues, Dr. Gayle Woloschak; Information Technologies, Mr. Theo Nicolakis and Mr. Jamil Samra and Study and Planning, Fr. Nicholas Apostola.
SCOBA Endorsed Groups: Orthodox Peace Fellowship, Ms.Sherri San Chirico; Zoë for Life, Mrs. Paula Kappos; Fellowship of the Transfiguration, Mr. Fred Krueger; Project Mexico, Ms. Margaret Yova; and Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion (OCAMPR) , V.Rev. Nicholas Graff.
The DVD's were produced by SCOBA in cooperation with Greek Orthodox Telecommunications (GOTelecom). Sets of two DVD’s may be ordered for $15.00 which includes postage and handling, from: Greek Orthodox Telecommunications, 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021, Tel: 212-570-3588.
*Each parish included within the SCOBA jurisdictions will be receiving a complimentary DVD.
April 19, 2007
Prayers, resources, and outreach to the local Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) chapter at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) are part of the response OCF has mounted to address the horrific tragedy that occurred on the 16th of April in Blacksburg, Virginia, which resulted in the loss of 33 human lives. Although it has been reported that all of the OCF students are safe, some of the students lost friends and acquaintances in the shooting.
His Grace Bishop Savas of Troas to lead National Young Adult Pilgrimage to Florence, Ravenna, and Constantinople November 2-10, 2007
OCF has been in constant communication with the leaders of the Virginia Tech OCF including Rev. Constantine Nastos of Holy Trinity Church in Roanoke, VA who serves as the OCF’s spiritual advisor. OCF is doing everything possible to respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of the students. In conjunction with its sister agency, International Orthodox Christian Charities, OCF is coordinating the deployment of “frontline” responders to minister to the Orthodox college students and community at Virginia Tech. The responders will include OCF Executive Director, Rev. Kevin Scherer, and three others who have all received specialized training in Critical Incident Stress Management and Debriefing. When classes resume Monday (April 23), Fr. Scherer and the three Orthodox Christian responders will meet with the Virginia Tech OCF and provide various levels of support, ministry, and counseling as needed.
“This is an important time for the Church to make sure that it creates an emotionally safe environment for students, everywhere, to share their feelings and experiences relative to this tragedy,” says Fr. Scherer. “Our responsibility is to actively listen and help them contextualize this horror in light of the Gospel, especially Christ’s life-giving resurrection.”
OCF has created a special website section with resources including prayers, selections from Scripture, and a messaging tool for the Orthodox community to share their condolences with the Virginia Tech OCF. A Memorial Service, with litanies and/or prayers specific to the tragedy, will soon be released to encourage local OCF chapters to pray corporately for those who lost their lives. The website (www.ocf.net) also includes an email address for the Virginia Tech OCF, allowing local OCF chapters and the Orthodox community world-wide to express their concern and support. The emails received thus far have been heartfelt and loving, and are a great testimony to the unbreakable Christian bond Orthodox college students have for one another.
It is with extreme sadness that OCF responds to this tragedy. These recent events reaffirm the urgent mission of OCF to help college students grow closer to Jesus Christ by living out their baptismal vocation during one of the most pivotal times in their lives.
OCF humbly asks each Orthodox Christian to continue offering their fervent prayers for all involved in this tragic event and for all Orthodox college students throughout the world. The support of the entire church is needed during this crucial time.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship is the official campus ministry program of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). It is a Pan-Orthodox effort which is overseen by a Board of Directors and assisted by a Student Advisory Board. Additional information on all the OCF programs can be found on the OCF website, www.ocf.net, or by calling toll-free, 800-919-1623.
Joseph J. Samra III
Orthodox Christian Fellowship
May 1, 2007
The Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries is pleased to announce the National Young Adult Pilgrimage to Florence, Ravenna, and Constantinople, November 2-10, 2007. His Grace Bishop Savas of Troas, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, will once again lead the pilgrimage to sites of great historical importance and spiritual significance for all Orthodox Christians. The highlight of this experience will be an audience with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar in the historic city of Constantinople.
Twelve Real Breaks, Eight Locations, 104 Students and ONE focus – Christ
The trip begins in Constantinople where participants will travel to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the awe-inspiring Cathedral of Agia Sophia, the Church of Christ at Chora, the Monastery of Zoodogos Pigi (the Life-Giving Spring), the great covered Bazaar, and will also experience the splendor of the city on a Bosphorus cruise. There will also be a tour of the famous Theodosian walls, which for one thousand years, until the Ottomans breached them in 1453, protected the City from invasions by land. The trip will continue to Florence, the site of an unsuccessful attempt to reunite the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, where the group will visit the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Romanesque Baptistery of St. John. A day trip to Ravenna, the ancient capital of the Western Roman Empire and an artistic bridge between the East and West, will provide the opportunity to experience the splendor of Byzantium and early Christian art, architecture, and history.
Bishop Savas described the pilgrimage to Rome and Constantinople as “an unforgettable experience, not only for the young adults but for myself as well. This year’s journey to destinations rich with early Christian and Byzantine history and architecture will likewise provide ample opportunities for growth in knowledge and self-understanding, for the establishing of lasting friendships and for spiritual refreshment and renewal.”
Registration will be limited to 35 young adults and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. For registration materials and additional information, please visit www.youth.goarch.org or contact the Department at 646.519.6180.
Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries
April 16, 2007
Throughout late February and March, 2007, 104 college students chose to serve the poor, orphaned and those in need on their spring break as an alternative to the traditional “sun and fun” breaks that college students normally choose. Orthodox Christian Fellowship’s (OCF) Real Break program held twelve trips and served eight different locations this year. Real Break provides an opportunity for college students to actively engage in life-changing experiences and to orient their lives towards Christ.
Joanne, a freshman at the University of Michigan, went on a Real Break to St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto and shared, “Putting faces and personalities to some of Toronto’s homeless has had a big impact on me. Hearing stories, doing a tangible project that improved the Mission, and then coming back together as a group and having incredible discussions is like putting the puzzle together of what a true Christian life should be like.” Joanne and her group served the Mission by befriending the homeless, completing much-needed maintenance on the facilities and worshiping with the parish on a daily basis.
In addition to the group who traveled to St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto, Real Break teams served Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala (two groups), Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico (three groups), Raphael House in San Francisco, CA, Holy Monastery of the Twelve Apostles in Greece, San Cristóbal Orphanage in San Salvador, El Salvador and Jackie’s House in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Orthodox Christian students participating in Real Break also joined hundreds of other volunteers from throughout North America as part of International Orthodox Christian Charities’ (IOCC) “Volunteers in the Gulf” to help those in the New Orleans area who are still recovering from the devastating hurricanes of 2005.
Real Break’s intense daily schedule creates opportunities for each participant to reflect on their relationship with Christ. The majority of participants admit they sign up for Real Break with the intent of serving and giving to others, but the time spent loving their brothers and sisters in Christ has a very different effect than expected. Each student receives more than what they give; they receive a life transforming experience. Jamie, a freshman at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, was clearly impacted on the Real Break to Jackie’s House in the Dominican Republic at one specific moment. “The most memorable and important moment of the trip was when we left Jackie’s House for the last time. The whole week, I felt like they (the children) had shown and given me so much. As we left, everyone, including the children, were bawling. It showed me how much we meant to them, and that meant the world to me.”
The 104 students who participated in Real Break this year brought the total number of participants over the eight years of Real Break to more than 620. The amazing growth of this program is a testimony to the fact that college students thirst for outreach opportunities in college in order to maintain and deepen their relationship with Christ.
OCF humbly asks each Orthodox Christian to continue to offer prayers and support for this crucial and growing college ministry.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship is the official campus ministry program of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). It is a Pan-Orthodox effort which is overseen by a Board of Directors and assisted by a Student Advisory Board. Additional information on the all OCF programs can be found on the OCF website at www.ocf.net, or by calling toll-free at 800-919-1623.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship
P.O. Box 300249
Boston, MA 02130