Parishes across the country honored new and returning college students on Sunday, September 16, 2012, which had been designated "College Student Sunday" by the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the official collegiate campus ministry program sponsored by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.
The day highlighted ministry to and by Orthodox Christian students on college and university campuses, and underscored the importance of reaching out to them as a means of strengthening the faith that will guide them throughout their lives.
At Saint Joseph Church, Wheaton, IL, Anthony Linderman, an Orthodox Christian student studying at Wheaton College -- in the accompanying photo, Anthony stands second second from the right -- addressed the congregation after the 9:30 Divine Liturgy. An Ohio native, Anthony has spent most of his life in Albania, where his parents are long-term Orthodox missionaries. He related the social and political history of Albania during the communist years -- the country had been proclaimed the world's first fully atheistic nation -- and spoke of the amazing resurrection of the Church after the fall of communism under the guidance of Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania. He also related that he considered himself blessed to have witnessed this resurrection and shared the ways it has helped to form his life and world view. At the conclusion of his presentation, Alma Cina, a parishioner who had grown up in Albania, briefly related her experiences in Albania during the period of atheism.
The parish's other college students, who in addition to Wheaton College represented the College of DuPage, the Illinois Institute of Technology, UIC, and other area schools, were introduced and recognized, while Trisha Holton was congratulated on her recent graduation from Rush University. Josh Sales, a Wheaton College graduate who had been baptized at the parish a few years ago and who is pursuing graduate work at Holy Cross School of Theology, Brookline, MA, was also present and recognized. The parish's many college students who study on campuses elsewhere in Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Alabama, and beyond were especially remembered in prayers for every success in the new school year.
The parish's campus ministry efforts are a part of its overall ministry. The students gather at the parish and participate fully in the parish's life. A number of them serve on Church school teaching teams and are involved in outreach on their respective campuses, inviting others to "come and see." As a result of their efforts, several students have embraced the Orthodox Christian faith.
In related news, Saint Joseph parish will host members of Wheaton College Prof. David McNutt's theology class on Thursday, October 25. A presentation on the Orthodox Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity will be given by the parish's pastors.
For additional information on the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, please visit www.ocf.net.