Seminarians Join IOCC to Help with Disaster Recovery

Seminary students join the IOCC Orthodox Action team in rebuilding homes damaged by natural disaster.

Seminarians Join IOCC Action Team To Help Families Recovering From Disaster

February 6, 2015

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The sound of sawing and hammering at a home build site in New Orleans is a far cry from the hushed and cloistered campus of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, where Father Mark Vair has spent the past three years studying theology and preparing for his life as an Orthodox Christian priest. Hammer in one hand and a nail in the other, Father Mark traded the sanctuary of the seminary's library, classrooms, and chapel for a week as a volunteer with an International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Action Team. He was joined by fellow seminarians who traveled from the across the US to help rebuild hurricane-damaged homes in New Orleans for families in need.

"My seminary experience has been life-changing and this is something which I am thankful to Almighty God for," said Father Mark. "However, once I graduate, it will be time to put Orthodox theology into practice. The home build with IOCC showed me what that looks like. This experience showed me what it was to put Orthodox Christianity into practice and to serve others in Christ's Holy name."

This is the second year that IOCC has deployed a team of seminarians to assist in a home build. The IOCC Orthodox Action Team provides Orthodox faithful in North America with an opportunity to put their faith into action in the service of families recovering from disasters. Since 2005, nearly 1,000 volunteers have donated over 33,000 man-hours to provide critical repairs to 193 family homes across the United States damaged by natural disasters.

"I hope that more seminarians will be blessed to get the experience of serving with IOCC," said Father Mark, "and I pray that this brings about the realization that the universe is our parish. That our Church is without borders and that all people are God's people, worthy of His mercy and love. And that if we are to lead, we must first learn how to serve."

IOCC is currently recruiting several volunteer teams for June and July 2015 to help build or repair existing homes this summer in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Jersey. You do not need to be skilled – just energetic! Activities vary depending on location and construction schedules, but can include siding, roofing, framing, landscaping, painting, and other support activities. Volunteers must be US or Canadian residents, 18 years of age or older. Teens over the age of 16 may also participate if accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or an adult with a power-of-attorney to act on their behalf for the duration of the deployment.


ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES

IOCC is the official humanitarian arm of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered $488 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in more than 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 140 churches and faith-based agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy, and a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.–based secular and faith-based organizations working to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable people. To learn more about IOCC, visit iocc.org.