Tag Archives: OCF

Why Ss. Cyril & Methodius is On Campus

My parish (Ss Cyril & Methodius Orthodox Church) is on the campus of the University of Wisconsin -Madison. We are where we are, primarily to reach out to UW students, faculty, and staff both those who are Orthodox and those who aren’t.

It would be easier for us as a parish to be in one of the suburbs and come on to campus on a regular basis. Rental property around the UW is roughly 30%-50% more expensive than the rest of the city. As a practical matter, this means we are only able to rent a small space. Purchasing land or a building for our own church building will likely be something the priest who (eventually) follows me.

Nevertheless, it is worth being on campus. It is important that the Church have a witness not only at UW-Madison but as the young man in the video says, on all college campuses.

Many Orthodox Christians worry about the culture and what is happening on campus. They worry that their children or grandchildren will fall away from Christ and the Church. Sincere as they are in their concern though they are, Orthodox Christians simply aren’t approaching campus ministry for what it is: a mission field.

Please take a few minutes to watch the OCF video. When you have, consider supporting the OCF with your prayers but also your time, talent, and treasure. Whether you’re concerned about the culture or the 60% of Orthodox Christians who will leave the Church by the time they’re 25 years old please support the OCF. Better yet, support a mission parish within walking distance of campus so that students have access to Christ and His Church.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

What Matters Happens Outside the Classroom

While they focus on economics in their op-ed piece, James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley make a good point for those interested in college ministry. What matters, they write, is not so much what happens in the classroom. Rather, the thing that most effects students’ attitudes are the time spent pursuing “extracurricular activitivies.”

While not denying that there are “organizations and constituencies on the contemporary campus” who stand “to gain from protest and unrest”alliances among these individuals and groups “are rarely formed in the classroom or in the traditional research disciplines.”

Instead, the

…growing radicalism on campus seems to originate instead in the broad category of student life that takes place outside the classroom. A 2014 study, for instance, found that students who spent a greater number of hours on extracurricular activities on campus (as opposed to classroom studies) were more likely to see their politics move toward one extreme or the other, in most cases toward the far left.

For campus ministers, this means that the best way to help students deepen their faith is to encourage them to spend time with each other outside the classroom.

While social activities are important they can’t be the point for campus ministries. If we are to help students deepen their commitment to Christ and the Church, we need to be willing to spend time with them talking with them (note, with them not to them) about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

This means not simply covering a lightly Christian version of what happens in secular groups. What need to do instead is focus on what is distinctive about being a Christian. We can’t deny the points of agreement between the Gospel and the surrounding culture.

However, we can’t at the expense of helping students see what is unique in the Christian tradition and so the ways in which the culture and the Church diverge from each other. One the best ways to do this is to help students understand their own personal vocations. We must ask again and again, who is Christ calling you to become?

And we need not only to ask this. We need to help students discern their vocation. And then, building on this, we need to help them discern how to be the person Christ has called them to be.

Before any of this can happen we need to spend time with students individually and in groups. As part of this time we also need to help students understand that they have a vocation and that it is fidelity to this vocation that will make the education and professional they seek personally meaningful and so of lasting value.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory