Fifty-seven smiling faces enlivened the Hellenic College Holy Cross campus on Friday, April 5, marking the beginning of a three-day alumni retreat for past participants of the CrossRoad Summer Institute. CrossRoad is a ten-day program for sixty Orthodox Christian high school juniors and seniors; it will celebrate its tenth anniversary this summer.
The retreat began with a combined session on campus, featuring all four past and present CrossRoad directors--Dr. Ann Bezzerides, Dn. Nick Belcher, Mary Long, and Mike Tishel--who presented on different aspects of the Office of Vocation & Ministry’s definition of vocation, “One’s unique and ongoing response to Christ’s call to love God with heart, soul, strength and mind and one’s neighbor as oneself. “ Young men and women traveled from as far as California and Tennessee to engage in a weekend of theological and vocational reflection, worship, quiet time, and communal recreation. Attendees were challenged to re-examine their understanding of vocation in relation to their faith and their call to love.
For the first time ever, post-college CrossRoad alumni had their own retreat track designed especially for emerging adults. The alumni themselves had requested the separate track; in the words of one alumnus, “You taught us to think about vocation while we were in high school. Now is when the questions are really pertinent for us." This pilot post-college retreat was made possible through the generosity of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund as part of a CrossRoad Outreach Grant to the Office of Vocation & Ministry.
On Saturday the twenty-somethings heard from a panel of five Orthodox professionals about how their faith informs their careers and lives in general. The panelists were:
● Joshua Birdsall, Chef at Women's Lunch Place
● Ioana Chirieac, MD, Psychiatrist,
Science Faculty at Boston Trinity Academy
● Sophie Giontzis, Investment Services
and Operations Manager at Putnam Investments
● Charles Lelon, Founder and Managing Partner at Kamylon Capital LLC
● Archdeacon Seraphim (Jeff) Solof:
Senior Vice President and Communications Executive at Bank of America
One retreat participant commented, “I was amazed to meet these individuals who are so successful in their careers in banking, finance, academia, etc., yet they were so faithful in their lives and in the workforce.” Another retreat participant said, “They gave us courage to live out our faith, to be ourselves, and to look at our lives with an eagerness and excitement for the surprises to come.”
Simultaneously, the younger, college-age CrossRoad alumni participated in a series of inspiring talks by HC alumnus and longtime parish priest Rev. Dr. Calinic Berger on “Bridging the Gap Between Sunday and Monday: Life as Vocation, Life as Church.” An alumna noted, “Fr. Calinic gave me many useful tools to apply to my life - especially on the different ways we commune with Christ (Scripture, our neighbor, etc.).”
Another attendee remarked after the retreat, “The community created was amazing and exactly what I needed. Such a beautiful thing to experience unconditional love with total strangers. Glory to God for all good things!” Each retreat track also had a session with Dr. Albert Rossi, a beloved yearly lecturer on Prayer and Purity since the inception of CrossRoad in 2004; he exhorted participants to heed the Christian call to be “a healing presence” in our world.
All alumni reconvened on Sunday morning for Divine Liturgy in the Hellenic College Holy Cross chapel. After brunch, everyone met for a wrap-up session, where they were encouraged to go back to their jobs and schools with joy and diligence, “as if before the Lord.”
The pilot post-college retreat was made possible through the generosity of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund as part of a CrossRoad Outreach Grant to the Office of Vocation & Ministry.
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 Session 1: June 22-July 2, 2013
CrossRoad Session 2: July 8–18, 2013
OVM programs are made possible through the generous assistance of the following organizations: