This is the fourth post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Harry Parks, sophomore
Over the span of eight weeks from late May to late July, it was my privilege to intern at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (“GOA”) within the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations (“the Ecumenical Office”). I was honored to work under the direction of Fr. Nicolas Kazarian and with the much needed and valuable support of Dr. Keller and the Honors Program through the Summer Internship Fellowship.
Under the archiepiscopal direction of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Ecumenical Office is expressly tasked with preserving Orthodox unity in the United States, sustaining efforts of dialogue and collaboration with Ecumenical partners, engaging in constructive relations with interfaith communities, and advancing “Church and Society” initiatives.
Before this internship, I wanted to engage in the Ecumenical Office’s creation care and racial reconciliation initiatives, but soon realized that I needed to commit myself fully to the tasks that were asked of me in order to yield the best fruits from this opportunity.
During my time in the Archdiocese, I was given a variety of assignments, compelling me to adapt to the various areas and concerns of the Office within Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith relations as the mission of the Church intersects and transcends these arenas. Generally, my work centered around three areas: administrative briefs, ghostwriting and editing, and initiative brainstorming and content creation.
My work constructing briefs was undertaken either to prepare the Archbishop for meetings with religious or secular leaders, or to advocate for the positions and safety of the Church. I found myself engaged in meaningful work to produce concise, yet instructive documents for the Church. Regarding ghostwriting and editing, I was privileged to write and/or edit multiple texts, giving me an intimate glimpse into the importance of accurate, tempered, and consistent spiritual and social messaging within the GOA. I was fortunate to help preserve the Ecumenical Office’s creation care initiatives by creating social media content for the Office’s Facebook and brainstorming new projects and structures to implement in the future.
Undoubtedly, this internship was the oil needed to fuel the fire of my spiritual journey in the Orthodox faith and my academic aspirations at the intersection of international studies, Orthodox Christianity, and Ecumenical dialogue. I pray that I may find just as potent a fuel in the future to “set [myself and] the world on fire,” as attributed to Ignatius of Loyola, in offering myself to the missions of the Orthodox Church.