MGOCSM Hosts First Ever Diocesan Orthodox College Summit for 2014
On Saturday, January 4th, 2014, the MGOCSM of the Northeast Diocese held its first ever Diocesan Orthodox College Summit at St. Stephen’s Malankara Orthodox Church in Midland Park, NJ. The theme for the conference was “Challenge Accepted” adapted from Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Throughout our Diocese, our college students face a variety of struggles that include: balancing social life, commitments/time management, new found freedom, determining where their faith fits into their lives, managing the communities they are a part of, and addressing relationships within a college setting. The conference was created to provide an open forum setting for college students to discuss their struggles and provide them with the access to spiritual counseling, mentorship, and leadership training courtesy of our Diocesan Clergy members and MGOCSM Alumni.
The enlightening experience was a full day of fellowship, workshops, and career counseling. Although His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos (Diocesan Metropolitan/MGOCSM President) was unable to attend, Thirumeni had given his full blessing for this Diocesan initiative and informed the participants he wished he could be there. The following clergy were in attendance: Rev. Fr. K. K. Kuriakose, Rev. Fr. V. M. Shibu, Rev. Fr. Vijay A. Thomas, and Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John. The MGOCSM Alumni who were in attendance that day included: Mr. Justin John, Mrs. Ponnu Varghese-John, Ms. Meril Pothen, Mrs. Bincy Thomas, Ms. Princy Abraham, Mr. Solamen Samuel and Ms. Pincy Jacob.
The day began with morning Sh’himo prayer led by Rev. Fr. V. M. Shibu (MGOCSM Vice President of the Northeast American Diocese) who delivered a welcome message on behalf of our Thirumeni for the Orthodox College Summit. The attendees participated in workshops presented by Rev. Fr. Vijay Abraham Thomas on “Temptation in College Life” which covered many real life personal examples from Achen’s journey throughout college. Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John conducted a workshop on struggles of faith and community in which he addressed several challenges our college students face. Later, Rev. Fr. Vijay Abraham Thomas and Mrs. Bincy Thomas led a workshop on relationships in college and discussed dating vs. courting in depth. Our MGOCSM Alumni led various breakout sessions covering various scenarios and challenges college students’ face, along with other sessions explaining what role the church played in helping them reach success in their careers. Finally, the event concluded with a Question and Answer Panel involving our various clergy members and alumni, which answered many questions in full detail.
In spite of the poor weather forecasts close to 80 youth attended our 2014 Diocesan MGOCSM Orthodox College Summit from all areas of the Northeast American Diocese. From the North Jersey/Rockland area, there were 28 youth from St. Mary's, St. Stephen's, St. Gregorios, St. Peter's & St. Paul's and St. Paul's (Albany) churches. From the Staten Island/Central Jersey area, 15 youth participated from the St. George and St. Mary's churches. 3 youth from St. Gregorios Ludlow in the Bronx/Westchester/Boston area, and 4 youth from St. Thomas and St. Gregorios churches in the Brooklyn/Queens/Long Island area also attended the conference. From the Philadelphia area, there were 26 youth from St. Thomas (Unruh), St. Thomas (Mascher), St. George, and St. Gregorios churches. Lastly, from the DC-MD-VA/NC area, we had 2 committed MGOCSM youth from St. Thomas church of Greater Washington.
Through the involvement of our clergy and the establishment of a Diocesan MGOCSM Alumni Network, it is our hope to further connect and empower our young leaders through career guidance, spiritual counselling, and leadership training. The Diocesan College Ministry initiatives seeks to make a powerful impact through regular fellowship within the areas on a monthly basis. Please keep the future of college ministry within our Diocese in prayers.
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