Reader Keanu Matthew Ortiz, a parishioner of Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow Church" in Princeton NJ, was nominated to represent the Diocese of New York and New Jersey at the annual IOCC Serv-X-Treme Conference in Minneapolis MN held July 29 – August 4, 2017. He sent the following report sharing his experience:
To the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey:
I was privileged to represent our diocese this past summer, at the 2017 IOCC Serv-X-Treme Conference. There were nine Orthodox Christian jurisdictions represented, and our diocese was one of the few from the Orthodox Church in America. It was a fun experience for the twenty-five of us who came together in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We came from many different dioceses across the country, as far as Massachusetts and Alaska. We took part in volunteer work, activities, and social gatherings in the context of our Orthodox faith. We participated in workshops led by Orthodox individuals and hands-on service activities ranging from pricing curtains at ReStore, to cleaning out a hoarder house in Waseca, Minnesota that was damaged by unexpected flooding in the summer of 2016.
I personally learned that love, service, sacrifice, and compassion for others provide great spiritual growth and strength. Our group showed love to each other with cooperation, and we embraced the service with diligence and compassion. I began to realize all the community service that I have not done and began to think of many ways I can help those around me and encourage others through my actions. As the Saints say, “Share the Gospel everywhere, and if necessary, use words.”
I want to thank my parish rector, Fr. Peter Baktis, for nominating me to attend, and Archbishop Michael and the Diocesan Council for accepting my nomination to go on this trip. I am immensely grateful and honored to have been chosen, and I look forward to applying what I have learned in my everyday life, following the example of Our Lord, Who “came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).
- Reader Keanu Matthew Ortiz