Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2006
Orthodox Christian Fellowship
P.O. Box 300249
Boston, MA 02130
OCF Real Break Program Achieves Milestone
Boston, MA - The Orthodox Christian Fellowship’s Real Break program continued its amazing growth this year, reaching a significant milestone - 500 students - in the process. In late February and March, 2006, 101 college students, participating in nine trips, actively engaged themselves in this life-changing experience. This brought the seven-year Real Break total to 518 students who have chosen this college ministry as an alternative to the traditional warm weather Spring Breaks that college students normally go on, often participating in a life style which can limit personal spiritual development.
“It felt so good working hard all day for someone else,” said Caroline Dickinson, a senior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who traveled to Project Mexico and St Innocent Orphanage. “To fall in bed at night, exhausted and sore because I did something important for my brother, is an awesome feeling. To look around at everyone I was with, and realize that we were all there for that same selfless purpose, was overpowering.”
In addition to the three groups of students who traveled to Project Mexico and St Innocent’s Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, other work sites included Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala (two groups), Rafael House in San Francisco, CA, Holy Monastery of the Twelve Apostles in Greece, and for the second consecutive year a group of students traveled to a an orphanage in San Salvador, El Salvador. Orthodox Christian students participating in Real Break also joined thousands of other college students this year from throughout North America in Louisiana’s Gulf Coast through a Hurricane Relief project to help Americans rebuild their lives after last summer’s two devastating hurricanes, Katrina and Rita.
Helping to assist in the on-going clean up of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in New Orleans left a lasting impression on eight OCF Real Breakers. “Our five days at Holy Trinity started when we began to wipe off the muck of flood waters, and ended with the moving of boxes and the beginnings of setting up a new home, and a renewed life,” one student recalled. “All in all, the eight of us were all deeply affected by the tragedy we witnessed, but also the resiliency of those who have endured and fought to regain their previously peaceful lives.”
Rachel Cattell, a junior at Penn State University in State College, who has participated in previous Real Breaks trips, was one of a group of students who traveled to Rafael House, a shelter for children and families. Adding to the students' experiences this year was an extended visit by The Rt. Rev. Bishop BENJAMIN, Bishop of Berkeley (CA), Diocese of the West (Orthodox Church in America).
“The whole week was amazing,” Rachel Cattell offered. “It was a once in a lifetime experience to be able to spend so much one-on-one time with a bishop. Bishop Benjamin was washing dishes and working right along with us. He showed us that he is a real person. In the process we were able to show that college students care and are willing to give up their Spring Break in order to spread the love and life of Jesus Christ.”
Real Break has historically been a time for great personal spiritual development, increased prayer, and fellowship. Above all, Real Break provides each student with an opportunity to live the Gospel of our Lord, to grow into a meaningful life in Christ, and hopefully to contribute to their very own salvation. Traditionally, Real Break is a week of personal sacrifice that demands physical work, and a time for selflessness. It provides each student with an opportunity to look into the eye of their brother, sister and each child they encounter, and to know with great clarity they have served their neighbor in Christ. A Real Break trip is indeed life-changing.
Mr. Joseph J. Samra III, Program Director for the OCF, has seen the growth of Real Break through its seven years. It astounds him to know that hundreds of Orthodox Christian students are forever changed because of their Real Break experiences.
“The importance of Real Beak is significant in the lives of so many young adults, especially at such a critical time in their life,” he said. “Being able to offer our Orthodox students the possibility to participate in these short-term mission trips, will hopefully keep them not simply connected to the church, but inspire them to devote always a part of or their entire lives to assisting those throughout the world who are in such great need. Real Break has a major role in the landscape of the Orthodox Christian college student. To be able to say Real Break has had more than 500 students participate in just seven years is quite significant. We look forward to the continued growth of this outstanding ministry.”
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship is the official campus ministry program of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). It is a Pan-Orthodox effort which is overseen by an Executive Committee and assisted by a Student Advisory Board. Additional information on Real Break and all OCF programs can be found on the OCF website at www.ocf.net, or by calling toll-free at 800-919-1OCF (1623).