63rd National ACRY Convention

September 11, 2007

JOHNSTOWN, PA - The 63rd Annual Convention of the National Senior and Junior ACRY (American Carpatho Russian Youth) took place on Labor Day Weekend, Fri August 31 - Monday September 3, 2007 at the Radisson Hotel in Monroeville, PA . This year's convention was hosted by the St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church of East Pittsburgh, ACRY Chapter #44. Those in attendance enjoyed the gracious hospitality and Christian kindness of the East Pittsburgh Chapter, who spent long hours preparing for the weekend's festivities.

The Junior ACRY under the leadership of President, Rachel Pribish, Senior Advisor, Amy Oblinsky and Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Miles Zdinak set in motion plans for outreach to the youth of the diocese and other charitable endeavors.

First, the members of the Jr. ACRY decided to continue their support of our diocesan St. John The Compassionate Mission of Toronto, Ontario (Canada) St. John's Mission presently serves more than 2000 meals a month to the hungry and provides job training and mentoring programs. As they did last year, they will spearhead a diocesan wide fund drive, Youth Project 2008, which will enlist the support of all diocesan youth. Their goal is to raise money for new kitchen equipment and dining room tables.

The Juniors conducted their "pass the hat" collection for the victims of the recent flooding of our diocesan St. Nicholas Parish in Hobart, Indiana, during a period of intense rainfall. The parish rectory basement and Church Hall were flooded with more than two feet of water, causing significant damage.

Plans were also made at the convention for their annual Fall Encounter Weekend at Camp Nazareth which will take place in November. This retreat weekend is open to both JR ACRY and non JR ACRY youth ages 8-18.

Philanthropy, outreach and evangelism characterized the deliberations and accomplishments of the Senior ACRY component of the national convention. Most notably, due to the hard work and diligence of Christina Duranko and her fellow members of the Rankin Chapter, through their successful Lots of Luck Calendar fundraiser, $10,000 was raised during the past year. The proceeds of the fundraiser was distributed in the following manner, $5,000 to the Diocesan Mission Fund, $2,500 to the Victims of the Binghamton Flood and $2,500 to the ACRY Publication Fund. It was decided that the proceeds of the coming year's Lots Of Luck fundraiser would be split among the Mission Fund and Christ The Saviour Seminary

Other charitable donations approved at the Convention include, $3,500 to the Diocesan Apostolate for Youth, $500 to the Metropolitan Orestes Perpetual Fund , $150.00 for the upkeep of Metropolitan Orestes gravesite; $1,200.00 to Camp Nazareth for the purchase of new food trays: $2,500 for the ACRY website upgrade and $800 from a "pass the hat" collection for the benefit of our Diocesan parishes of Rahway, NJ, Manville, NJ and Hobart, IN who received flood damage during the past year.

One of the most significant items of discussion was a report given by Mrs. Caroline Kushner, regarding the creation of a strategic plan for the ACRY. During the past year, surveys were sent to all diocesan ACRY chapters and parishes regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the ACRY. Mrs. Kushner, who works as a strategic planner for not for profit organizations, conducted a brainstorming workshop during the Saturday afternoon business session. The delegates were broken down into eight randomly selected groups, and were given two tasks: the first was to articulate what programs and endeavors they would like to see the ACRY involved in. The second was to craft a short mission statement as to what the philosophy and goals for the ACRY. This hands-on workshop was well-received by the delegates and provided valuable information. It is noted that the general consensus was that the ACRY should be a family service organization that in addition to providing financial support to the diocese and charitable appeals, it should facilitate and encourage, hands-on philanthropic and missionary work both domestically and internationally. The results of the workshop will be compiled by Mrs. Kushner and submitted to the National Board for further study and recommendations.

In ongoing efforts to re-invigorate the ACRY and increase its ability to respond to diocesan and philanthropic needs on a more timely basis, the membership approved the creation of an emergency expenditure fund. This fund would be available for allocation by the National ACRY Board in times of need. In addition, plans were set in place to more effectively utilize the available digital technology of electronic mail (e-mail) and the internet. To this end, all future mailings, unless specifically requested otherwise, will be sent via e-mail. The ACRY website www.acry.org will also be enhanced during the coming year, and will become the centralized source for information and communication, and will contain all pertinent forms and applications for all national programs and events.

As has been the tradition from the very beginning, the convention took place within the context of the liturgical life of the Church, opening with Liturgy on Saturday morning concelebrated by the Very Rev. Peter Paproski, National Senior ACRY Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak, National JR ACRY Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Protopresbyter John Fedornock and Very Rev. Fr. Jonathan Tobias, the Host Pastor. Vespers later in the day were celebrated by Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak and Sunday Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the Very Rev. Fr. Peter Paproski and assisted by Protodeacon Emil Gulick and Deacon Artemius Stinstra and the assembled priests. The choral responses to the Liturgy were beautifully sung by the St. John the Baptist Church Choir of E. Pittsburgh, PA and the Plain Chant responses were led by Sub-deacon Gary Grisiak. All liturgical services were well attended, with more than 70 people being in attendance at the Saturday Liturgy and Great Vespers and more than 250 people at the Sunday Liturgy.

Other highlights included presentations by Fr. Jonathan Tobias, on the recent International Youth Conference in Constantinople, Fr. Michael Ellis on the ministry of Camp Nazareth and Mr. John Righetti , the president of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. The Very Rev. Protopresbyter Fr. Frank P. Miloro was the keynote speaker at the Sunday night Grand Banquet.

At the Grand Banquet the following scholarships were awarded:

Freshman: Rachel Pribish & Dean Wessel; Sophomore: Stephanie Coffman, Caitlin Righetti & Michele Tomko; Junior: Dylan Wessel; Senior: Amanda Pribish

Metropolitan Orestes Memorial Scholarship: Ryan Ferko; Mary Kay Wanchik Memorial Scholarship: Matthew Dutko; Graduate: Pani Jodi Moriak

Other presentations included the Chapter Achievement Award which was given to St. Mary's ACRY Chapter #36, Bayonne, NJ and the Individual Achievement Award to Susan M. Semancik & Martha J. Slepak of Chapter #11 Homestead. Life long members of the ACRY, Martha and Sue have been tireless supporters of the ACRY, their parish and the diocese.

The Newly elected SR ACRY officers include: Matthew Peifer, President; Adam Rogers, Vice President; Adam Zak, Treasurer; Deborah Samilenko, Financial Secretary; Elizabeth Fedornock, Aaron Zak and Christina Dutko, Auditors; Nicholas Dzubak, Sergeant at Arms; Danielle Fesco, Athletic Director and Stephanie Coffman, Miss Sr. A.C.R.Y.

Amy Oblinsky was appointed by President Matthew Peifer to the newly created position of Junior ACRY Advisor; Adam Rogers as Webmaster, and Gregory Kushner, Publicity Director. Mary Ann Hudak was appointed to her thirteenth term as National Secretary in recognition of her outstanding performance of the duties of this vitally important office.

Newly Elected Junior ACRY Officers include: President: Katherine Stienstra; Immediate Past President: Rachel Pribish; Vice President: Adam Coffman:

Corresponding Secretary: Alison Tusick ; Financial Secretary: Angela Sudik; Treasurer: Alex Righetti; Publicity Director: Irene Grysiak;

Sergeant-at-Arms: Charles Halapin; Auditors: Samantha Fitzgerald and Emily Matelan: Miss Jr. A.C.R.Y. Alison Tusick and Mr. Jr A.C.R.Y.: John Stienstra.

This year for the first time in the history of the A.C.R.Y, the officers of the Junior and Senior A.C.R.Y were installed in a joint ceremony by the National Junior and Senior A.C.R.Y. Spiritual Advisors. The installation of officers concluded with the traditional circle of unity while singing the A.C.R.Y. March, underscoring that the A.C.R.Y. is indeed a family organization committed to moving as the Body of Christ Forever Forward and Heavenward.