62nd National ACRY Convention

September 4, 2006

LIBERTY, OH - The 62nd Annual Convention of the National Senior and Junior ACRY (American Carpatho Russian Youth) which began on Friday September 1, 2006 concluded today. This year's convention was seen as a great success by its participants, as the fruits of its deliberations were many new initiatives designed to re-invigorate and strengthen the family of the ACRY.

The Junior ACRY under the leadership of President, Rachel Pribish, Senior Advisor, Amy Oblinsky and Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Miles Zdinak, initiated several outreach programs, to the youth of the diocese and other charitable causes.

First, to encourage more youth to attend the Summer Camping Program at Camp Nazareth, they decided to open their annual essay contest, which was previously limited to JR ACRY members, to all diocesan Youth. This year there will be two prizes: a full week's tuition to Camp for Jr. ACRY members, and a 50% discount for non-member Orthodox. The essay contest application and rules will be included in the Camp registration packages sent to all diocesan parishes and posted on the camp website.

Second, the members of the Jr. ACRY also voted to sponsor a special youth outreach project, to benefit our diocesan St. John The Compassionate Mission to the poor 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. Youth Project 2007, while sponsored by the Jr. ACRY, is open to all the youth of the diocese. Further information will be posted on the Diocesan and JR. ACRY websites and mailed to all diocesan parishes in the near future.

At the convention, the members of the Jr. ACRY also began making plans for their 25th Anniversary celebration to be held in 2009, and they conducted their "pass the hat" collection for the victims of the June flooding in the Binghamton, NY area. This flood left several members of our diocesan St. Michael's parish with devastating damage to their homes and catastrophic losses.

Philanthrophy, 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 Donna Yarina and her fellow members of the Johnstown Chapter, through their successful Lots of Luck Calendar fundraiser, $10,000 was raised during the past year for the benefit of the ACRY. It was through the efforts of the Johnstown Chapter that this fundraising program began in the early 1990's. The proceeds of this fundraiser were distributed in the following manner, $5,000 to the Diocesan Mission Fund, $2,500 to Camp Nazareth and $2,500 to the Scholarship Fund. It was decided that the proceeds of the coming year's fundraiser would be split among the Mission Fund, the victims of the Binghamton Flood and the ACRY Publication Fund.

Other charitable donations approved at the Convention include, $4,500 to the Diocesan Apostolate for Youth, $2,000 towards the construction of a permanent Church for the Holy Transfiguration Mission in Crawfordsville, IN, and $900 from a "pass the hat" collection to the St. John The Compassionate Mission in Toronto, Ontario (Canada).

Another significant item of discussion was a report given by Mrs. Caroline Kushner, which analyzed the recent surveys conducted by the ACRY regarding its overall mission, vision and programming. Mrs. Kushner, who works as a strategic planner for not for profit organizations, concluded in her report that the ACRY needs to develop a strategic plan which redefines and clearly articulates the mission and vision of the ACRY. A committee has been formed which will operate with the participation and Blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas and with Mrs. Kushner as chairperson . The remaining members will be comprised of both ACRY and non ACRY members and clergy.

Recognizing that the ACRY is not only a youth but a family organization, and desiring that there be greater attendance and interest in National ACRY events, a historic decision was made to invite and encourage all members of our diocese, both ACRY members and non-ACRY members to take part in the annual bowling tournament.  This new policy would begin with the upcoming tournament to be held this coming Memorial Day Weekend in Stratford, Connecticut. Plans in progress for this event, promise that this weekend will be an enjoyable weekend with many family activities besides bowling being offered.

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 co-celebrated by the Very Rev. Peter Paproski, National Senior ACRY Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak, National JR ACRY Spiritual Advisor, and the Rev. Fr. Andrew Fetchina, the Director of the Diocesan Apostolate For Youth. Vespers later in the day were celebrated by Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas and the assembled Clergy with the Plain Chant responses being led by host pastor, the Very Rev. Protopresbyter Kenneth Bachofsky and assisted by Rachel Pribish, National Jr. ACRY President, Nathan Bachofsky, Danielle Fecso and Natasha Kaputa.

Other highlights included a presentation on Marital Fidelity and Cohabitation by Fr. Michael Ellis, the director of Camp Nazareth on Saturday afternoon, a barbershop quartet concert following dinner on Saturday evening and the Grand banquet on Sunday evening, which featured the Very Rev. Jonathan Tobias as the keynote speaker.

Newly elected SR ACRY officers include: Matthew Pfiffer, President; Amy Oblinsky, Vice President; Maryann Hudak, Secretary; Adam Zak, Treasurer; Deborah Samilenko, Financial Secretary; Barbara Coe, Aaron Zak and Christina Dutko, Auditors; Danielle Fesco, Sergeant at Arms; Gregory Kushner, Publicity Director; and Elizabeth Fedornock, Athletic Director. Junior ACRY officers include: Rachel Pribish, President; Katherine Stienstra, Vice-President; Katie Verbitsky, Corresponding Secretary, Alex Righetti Treasurer; Stacey Carlisle, Financial Secretary; Nathaniel Choma and Samantha. Fitzgerald, Auditors; Alison Tusick, Publicity Director; John Stienstra, Sergeant at Arms; Adam Coffman, Mr. ACRY; Katie Verbitsky Miss ACRY.