On Saturday, 21 June 2014, college students, clergy, and laity gathered at Holy Apostles Mission Parish in Lansing NY for “The Fields are White for Harvest: Welcome to College Ministry.” Father John Diamantis (Chairman, Diocesan Department of College Ministry) remarked: “It is appropriate and inspiring for us to meet at a mission parish for this conference since the spirit of missions, which the Apostles had, is embodied in this community and permeates every aspect of what we all will be doing with college ministry. More than just a way of keeping our own students connected to the Church, college ministry offers a fantastic opportunity to reach the un-churched and lapsed.”
After citing the great opportunity in the “mission field of America” and explaining the importance of ministering to college students, the first talk was given by Andrew Boyd (Director, OCA Department of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministries) entitled “Challenges, Strategies and Opportunities in College Ministry.” He reflected on his own college ministry experience through OCF at the University of Connecticut and explained the great importance of having an authentic relationship with the students. “When you are meeting with the students there is no need to turn your hat backwards and try to speak like a 20 year old. Instead, be who you are and be comfortable with that,” said Andrew.
Deacon Alexander Cadman, who serves as the OCA’s representative and Secretary to the National OCF AND as the OCF chaplain at Penn State University (one of the nation’s most vibrant chapters), next spoke on the theme of “The Effects of Campus Ministry on a Parish.” He said, “Campus ministry truly is a ‘field white for harvest’ and when students come to a parish that might otherwise seem lifeless they have a way of energizing everyone there.” Father Jason Kappanadze shared that his parish “had a group of college students come to our parish many years ago, and the effects of the energy and their positive impact is still being felt to this day.”
Following lunch, Father Diamantis spoke about the practical aspects of starting an OCF Chapter. Among other important steps, he asks that anyone interested in being involved with this ministry contact him. “My hope and prayer for you all is that you will leave this conference with the tools and desire to be involved with college ministry here in upstate New York. For those who plan to be involved with OCF this fall the work begins now, during these summer months.”
The three speakers opened the floor for questions and comments in a panel format. They addressed questions of how to relate to college students, what sort of needs today’s students have, and how an OCF chapter already in existence can plan to grow and spread its influence.
In closing, Father Diamantis expressed gratitude to Father James Worthington and his host parishioners, and to the speakers: “I hope and pray the Lord will richly bless your efforts in this ministry as you begin this summer and fall.”
For more information or help with college ministry at a parish near you, please visit: occm.nynjoca.org