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A Priest's Perspective

Holy Trinity Rector, Very Reverend Marc A. Vranes, returned to Holy Trinity on Sunday, October 22, 2017. He had been absent the previous two weeks, home and rehabilitating, as a result of total right knee replacement surgery. Many thoughts go through one’s mind during this post-surgical time. Following are some thoughts shared by Fr Marc to his church community upon his return.

University of Connecticut Chapter of the OCF
Message from the 2016-2017 UConn OCF

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is a national organization that helps young people stay connected to their Orthodox faith while in college. The University of Connecticut is home to our local OCF Chapter. 

We are a student-run organization that concentrates on fostering fellowship and spiritual growth of the individual members of our group. We hold weekly meetings where we organize upcoming events and hold discussions. Our discussion topics range from week to week – on how to better our OCF chapter to in-depth conversations about Orthodoxy and living out its doctrine. Often times, a priest is present at our meetings and will help guide our discussion and address any remaining questions. 

One of OCF’s goals is to get involved in the parish life of surrounding churches, especially Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Willimantic, CT. Holy Trinity has truly become our “home away from home.” The parish community continues to be a huge support to us, welcoming both our Orthodox and non-orthodox members in only the warmest of ways. 

With focus on community building, our chapter also strives to engage with parishes across Connecticut via regular church visits. Our members participate in OCF on a national level, participating in annual events such as College Conference, Real Break, and Day of Prayer. Previously our members have served on the national OCF Student Advisory Board (SAB), which aims to assist local chapters by providing needed resources and hosting events, such as mission trips and regional retreats.

Everyone is welcome to come explore the Orthodox Christian Faith. As one of OCF’s main purposes is to assist its members in their spiritual growth, we want to thank Fr Marc and all the parishioners at Holy Trinity, as we could not do this without their constant encouragement and support. 

Resources

How to Start an OCF: Listen (mp3)
Effects of College Ministry in a Parish: Listen (mp3)
Presented by: Deacon John Diamantis

Challenges and Strategies in Ministering to Today's College Students: Listen (mp3)
Presented by: Andrew Boyd, Director of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry for the OCA

The Effects of Campus Ministry on College Students: A Testimonial: Listen (mp3)
Presented by: Edward Ryan, Current Coordinator of Activities for the OCF

Holy Trinity and the UConn OCF

For several years in the mid 1990’s, Holy Trinity was closed. Occasionally, a local Orthodox priest would be sent to serve Divine Liturgy. Although the community was stabilized by the late 90’s, and weekly liturgies were being celebrated, no one felt certain whether we would be there from one month to the next. To say the struggle was mighty would be kind; to say the situation was precarious would be accurate.   

In the year 2000 however, two female students who had recently began their studies at UConn, asked about starting an Orthodox Christian Fellowship chapter on the Storrs campus. Along with an Orthodox professor, the group began to meet weekly in a small and old classroom and served Compline, followed by a discussion. The questions the students asked were challenging, and at times, never ending. I remember oftentimes begging for mercy, just wanting to go home after a day of work and long drive, through traffic, to campus. 

The students then began to come to Liturgy regularly. One week followed another, and other students joined them. Fairly quickly, Holy Trinity was welcoming six UConn students each Sunday for Divine Liturgy. They sang, and directed the choir. Some served in the altar, while others taught Church School. A year later, several went on a Real Break Trip to Project Mexico.

What the UConn OCF brings to Holy Trinity is joy, enthusiasm, and extraordinary dedication; they bring youth, energy, and a desire to hear and live the Gospel. We were no longer old and dying; now, we are young and vibrant.

Mirroring life itself, the cycle of our college students continues to evolve. Years go by quickly, and some years more students participate than in other years. The joy and passion remain, though; unchanged from one year to the next. The growth of our parish has been steady over the years, from a parish that was closed to that is alive with joy in the Holy Spirit.

The first Sunday of each semester in September, our church holds a Welcome Back College Student Sunday. The students are welcomed back and presented with gift bags. It is a significant day in our community. We are always happy to have our students return.

Although we can say with certainly that it is only God who saves, it is also with great conviction and with a pure and open heart that all Holy Trinity parishioners can say, it was the UConn OCF, especially in those early years (200-2006), that perhaps kept our little church from being closed permanently, possibly forever.

- Fr Marc Vranes
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
Willimantic, Connecticut 
Student Information & Timeline of Church History Postcards

A Student Information & Timeline of Church History Postcards have recently been produced for Holy Trinity Church by Mr. Tony W. Core of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The Student Information Card is 6 x 11 with five color photos on the front. On the back, a list of the ministries a person can become involved with as a member of Holy Trinity is detailed, along with our iconostas and directions to the church. It is a perfect card for our University of Connecticut Orthodox Christian Fellowship students to share with their college friends. The 4 x 6 Church History Timeline Card, printed on a black background, details the history of the Orthodox Church from the Day of Pentecost through the canonization of the North American Saints in the year 2000.

To receive a copy of each of these two beautiful post cards, please contact Fr Marc at: marc.vranes@comcast.net 

or

ClickStudent Information Postcard to download a copy electronically

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