“We Offer These Gifts”: A Program for the Theological Exploration
The Office of Vocation & Ministry (OVM) at Hellenic College provides opportunities for college students, high school students, and those who serve them, for growth in Orthodox Christian vocation and leadership through theological inquiry, ongoing reflection, and service activities by way of retreats, workshops, classes, conferences, study sessions, and mini-grants.
The OVM defines vocation as one’s unique and ongoing response to Christ’s call to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and the neighbor as oneself. It seeks to encourage all participants to consider their life as vocation, and to nurture the next generation of leaders who are called to full-time ministry in the church, whether to the ordained priesthood or to lay ministry.
The OVM seeks to be theologically and faithfully Orthodox Christian; to be excellent stewards of the resources of this Lilly Endowment Inc. grant to Hellenic College; to work with integrity, energy and creativity; to provide engaging and rich programs through effective administration; to publish resources to share learning; and to utilize collaborative inquiry for ongoing program planning and evaluation.
The Office of Vocation & Ministry (OVM) was established in 2003 when Hellenic College became one of 88 accredited colleges and universities in the United States to receive a prestigious five-year grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. for “the theological exploration of vocation.”
The three interrelated objectives for this effort are to:
The OVM has inspired hundreds of Orthodox Christian high school and college students to:
In May 2008, the Lilly Endowment awarded the OVM an additional three-year matching grant to help the programs transition from being fully funded by the Endowment to fully funded by the community. While the OVM began through a generous grant from Lilly, the Endowment believes that its grantees must, through broad-based community initiative, support their new programs. The OVM fulfilled this matching grant challenge through the generous support of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund, Old Neighborhood Foods, the Virginia H. Farah Foundation, the Gerondelis Foundation, and several individual benefactors.
In order for the OVM to achieve its goal of becoming a permanent part of the fabric of Hellenic College Holy Cross, the OVM contin continues to seek the support of leaders within the greater community to join in the effort to sustain these vital programs. In order to carry on this work, Hellenic College must raise $1.7 million in contributions by 2017. Through the generosity of the greater Orthodox community, as well as foundation and corporate partners, the OVM will continue to offer vital vocation and leadership training to tomorrow’s leaders for Church and society—today.
Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides, PhD, Director of the Office of Vocation & Ministry, earned her doctorate from Boston College in Theology and Education; an MDiv from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary where she has served as a lecturer in Religious Education, and a BA from Middlebury College. She has directed the OVM since 2003 and was the founding director of the OVM’s CrossRoad Summer Institute. She edited Christ at Work: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Vocation (2006), which serves as a guiding text for OVM programming. Dr. Bezzerides’ research interests include Orthodox theological perspectives on vocation and ministry; the history and contemporary practice of Christian Religious Education; hermeneutic of retrieval for the use of Patristic texts for the formation of today's educators; evaluation methodologies and practices for ministry; Christian faith and higher education; and youth ministry. She is extremely thankful for the opportunity to serve through this initiative. Tel: (617) 850-1308 Contact Ann M. Bezzerides
Michael Tishel, CrossRoad Director and OVM Asst. Director, received a BA in Comparative Historical Theology from Gordon College and a Masters in Theology (Dogmatics) from the Aristotle University of Thessalonika. He has been involved in youth ministry both on the high school and college levels for nine years, working as a youth and young adult leader at his parish, for his diocese, and for Orthodox Christian Fellowship. In addition to directing CrossRoad and the OVM's student vocation programs, this year Mike is teaching the Eisodos First Year Experience course for incoming students. At his parish, Mike serves as an instructor of catechism, sunday school teacher, and chanter. Mike is grateful for the opportunity to serve God and his neighbor through the CrossRoad Summer Institute and Hellenic College. Tel: (617)850-1309 Contact Mic
Chrysoula Kourkounti, Community Engagement Coordinator, has 15 years experience working as a social worker in the Boston area. For the past 12 years, she worked for the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain. Pres. Chrysoula has her BA from Hellenic College and a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Cambridge College with a concentration in Expressive Therapy. Since her youth, Pres. Chrysoula has been involved in programming for youth, adults, and senior citizens through our local, national, and international Orthodox Church. Presvetera Chrysoula is grateful for the opportunity to use her educational and personal talents to support the ministries of the OVM and HCHC.
Kyra Limberakis, CrossRoad Assistant Director of CrossRoad and the OVM, is an alumna of Villanova University with a B.A. in Communication and minors in Sociology and Theology. She is currently a Masters of Theological Studies candidate at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (2015). An alumna of CrossRoad herself, Kyra has been involved in Orthodox Christian youth work for several years, serving as staff for CrossRoad, Ionian Village, and Camp Good Shepherd (New Jersey Metropolis). She is concentrating her graduate studies at B.C. in Youth and Young Adult Ministry and is coordinating the OVM program Women in Leadership and Service. Kyra feels blessed to have the opportunity to work for the ministries of the OVM.
Tina Felactu, Program Manager, graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Studies from California State University, Long Beach. Tina has a strong background in accounting and human services in the corporate world as well as lifelong experience in the Orthodox Church. She currently cochairs PTA of the Theophany School, an Orthodox school in Needham, MA. She joined the OVM team in 2013 as a part time intern and has found a new passion and love for the programs and mission of the office.
Rachel Contos, OVM Development Intern, is a senior at Hellenic College working toward her B.A. in Religious Studies with a minor in Ancient Greek. Last year she transferred to HCHC from Marquette University where she served as the President of her Orthodox Christian Fellowship Chapter. She will be working on her Certificate in Professional Fundraising at Boston University during her internship. Her internship is generously funded by a grant from the Virginia H. Farah and Cottonwood Foundations.
Rev. Nicholas Triantafilou, President, Hellenic College Holy Cross, is fully committed to the program aims of the Office of Vocation & Ministry. He believes that every opportunity should be made for young women and men to explore their Orthodox faith in light of their personal goals, whether as a full-time matriculated student at Hellenic College or through one of the other programs sponsored by or at Hellenic College. He believes that developing a new generation of leaders for the Orthodox Church in North America is a primary educational objective of the College, and is particularly concerned about increasing the number of potential clergy for Greek Orthodox parishes in the United States.
Demetrios Katos, PhD., Dean of Hellenic College and Professor of Religious Studies. Dean Katos earned his doctorate from The Catholic University of America, his M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and his undergraduate degree from New York University. Dean Katos devotes his research to the theology, history, and intellectual culture of Christian antiquity, and he specializes in early Christian spiritual and mystical traditions. As Dean of Hellenic College, he is a foremost supporter and advocate of strengthening and expanding OVM programs, seeing them as vital for the student population. He also sees a larger structural necessity, citing in a recent report, "In addition to strengthening a half-generation of future church leaders that have come through all the new programs it created… the OVM has created a core cadre of indispensable leaders in the administration of HC whose vision, energy, and capacity for execution has stimulated a transformation of the broader institutional and campus culture."
The Office of Vocation & Ministry (OVM) at Hellenic College trains and educates faithful, energetic, high achieving, and service oriented Orthodox Christian young people to be leaders in the church as priests and lay people.
CrossRoad June Session: June 21-July 1, 2014
CrossRoad Session 2: July 5-15, 2014
OVM programs are made possible through the generous assistance of the following organizations: