Orthodox students find balance in college lifestyle

Members+sit+in+a+circle+and+discuss+sin+and+how+they+view+God+and+the+church+as+a+spiritual+medicine+Tuesday.+The+Orthodox+Christian+Fellowship+hosts+weekly+dinners+and+discussions.++
Back to Article
Back to Article

Orthodox students find balance in college lifestyle

Members sit in a circle and discuss sin and how they view God and the church as a spiritual medicine Tuesday. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship hosts weekly dinners and discussions.

Members sit in a circle and discuss sin and how they view God and the church as a spiritual medicine Tuesday. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship hosts weekly dinners and discussions.

Members sit in a circle and discuss sin and how they view God and the church as a spiritual medicine Tuesday. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship hosts weekly dinners and discussions.

Members sit in a circle and discuss sin and how they view God and the church as a spiritual medicine Tuesday. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship hosts weekly dinners and discussions.

By Ashley Fu, Contributing Writer

Members of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship are hoping to spread awareness about their religion during Orthodox Awareness Month.

Marika Maggos, vice president of external affairs for OCF and senior in LAS, said, “(Orthodoxy) is pretty much incorporated into my culture, so for me, coming into college, it was not really a big issue in terms of the religious life and a more liberal college life. I have a very normal, typical college-student life; I’m still able to keep my religious life, too.”

Aspects of Orthodox religious life, such as fasting for two days a week by not eating meat, dairy or eggs, have been integrated into their daily lives.

“For us, it’s more like a way of life; the things we eat, the things we talk about are all kind of a mesh in there,” said Demetrios Maroutsos, president of OCF and senior in LAS. “We have a hundred kids who are attempting to be Orthodox and a college student at the same time. I’d say it’s very manageable.”

Maggos said when people hear the word “orthodox,” they associate the word with a harsh, conservative religion. To Maggos, Orthodoxy is about love and forgiveness.

For Orthodox Awareness Month, the group is speaking with youth about Orthodoxy, delivering food to people in Champaign-Urbana and switching each member’s Facebook profile picture to an image of the Orthodox flag.

Maroutsos said Orthodox Christians keep a low profile in the U.S. Only 1 percent of people are Orthodox in Illinois, according to Pew Research Center.

“Most people don’t even know we exist,” Maroutsos said. “We’re a church that has existed before the Catholic Church. For us, it’s very much like a living religion. Things are still changing. Even though it’s so old, it doesn’t mean it’s not growing.”

OCF has done many events to help reach out to others. Maggos said she is involved with organizing community service events, engaging with the community and promoting the chapter to other churches in the Chicagoland area.

Bobby Koys, sophomore in DGS, is converting to Orthodoxy after being raised Catholic and hopping between different religions in college.

“I found that Orthodox Christianity was the best remedy for curing society’s ills and for upholding the moral fabric of society,” he said. 

Koys said people are very busy and want to find the best way to conduct themselves. He felt the Orthodox Church was the answer, spiritually and morally.

Maria Kontari, graduate student teaching Greek studies, grew up in the Greek Orthodox culture and then moved to the U.S.  

“It’s amazing; every week the church is more than comfortable in celebration,” she said. “What is also different here is people also see it more as a community. So they all stay together after the service, have a coffee, have breakfast, talk to each other, also participate financially in supporting the church.”

[email protected]

Correction: A previous version of the story misstated the name of the club. It is Orthodox Christian Fellowship, not Orthodox Christianity Fellowship. The Daily Illini regrets this error.