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
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
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
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
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
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.