2011 National Junior and Senior ACRY Convention Concludes

HOMESTEAD, PA --   67th Annual National  Senior ACRY and 28th Annual Junior ACRY Convention held here  Labor Day Weekend, 2011 (Sept 2-5, 2011) bore much fruit.   Meeting in joint and separate sessions, the National Junior and Senior ACRY membership set in motion exciting plans for the coming year. The deliberations took place, as always, within the context of the Liturgical life of the Church with a full cycle of services including Liturgy and Vespers on Saturday at the Double Tree Hotel and  Sunday Liturgy at St. Nicholas Parish in Homestead, PA. A highlight of the weekend was an excellent presentation on the recent diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Meeting within days of the devastating Hurricane Irene, one of the first order of business of both the Junior and Senior ACRY  was to  offer their prayerful and financial support to the diocesan parishes of  Holy Ghost in Manville, New Jersey and  St John the Baptist in Rahway, New Jersey,  which experienced severe flood damage.  The Junior ACRY, through their “pass the hat initiative” raised nearly $100.00 and the membership of the Senior ACRY approved a $5,000.00 donation to be distributed immediately. At the grand banquet a free will offering  raised an additional $828.00.

During the general convention sessions, the delegates were updated on the works of the various programs  and committees of the ACRY including the ACRY Blessing Program, which offers financial support for children with severe medical needs, and the ACRY Ambassador, Membership and Scholarship Committees.  A highlight was the unveiling of a new promotional brochure and  membership guide book designed to promote the reactivation of inactive and the establishment of new chapters.

Recognizing the need for more effective administration of the ACRY programs and initiatives, the national senior officers shared their plans for the establishment of monthly teleconferences of the executive board and committee chairpersons, and bi-annual teleconferences of the entire board. 

The Junior ACRY decided to shift focus for their Lenten service project back to St. John the Compassionate Mission and the Lived Theology School in Toronto, Canada. The Juniors also discussed a second trip to the mission in the summer of 2012, following the success of the Summer 2009 trip, to present the funds personally to the mission staff. The Junior ACRY also took up the initiative to establish a relationship with the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, adding them , as well as the Distinguished Diocesan Donors Fund, to their list of standing annual donations.

The installation of newly elected Junior and Senior officers took place just prior to the Grand Banquet. Senior officers are Nicholas Dzubak, President; Amy Oblinsky, Vice President and Junior Advisor; Maryann Hudak, Secretary; Deborah Samilenko, Treasurer; Barbara Fitzgerald, Financial Secretary; Stacey Carlisle, Alex Righetti, Kevin Coffman, and Mark Sudik, Auditors; Stephanie Nakonecznyj, Athletic Director; Danielle Bartko, Publicity Director; Rachel Pribish, Junior Advisor; and John Fedornock, Sergeant-at-Arms.

Junior Officers include Tim Paproski, President; Anastasia Koss, Vice President; Sophie Timko, Corresponding Secretary; Kyra Leasure, Treasurer; Alyssa Waryanka, Financial Secretary; Jess Pak and Paul Zdinak, Auditors; Cassandra Eddy, Publicity Director; and John Puzakulics, Sergeant-at-Arms. 

At the grand banquet,  the following awards and presentations were made. The Junior Chapter Achievement Award went to the Potomac, Maryland Chapter 25 and Mrs. Deborah Samilenko of the Stratford, CT ACRY Chapter 23, received the Junior Advisor of the Year Award.    

The following Scholarships were awarded:  Freshmen Adam Coffman – Schereville, Joanne Puzakulics – Binghamton, Ileana Righetti – Ambridge and Zachary Koss – Phoenixville; Sophomore - Kevin Coffman – Schereville and Elizabeth Puzakulics – Binghamton; Senior- Katherine Stienstra – Homestead;  Metropolitan Orestes Memorial - Rachel Pribish – Elizabeth; Mary Kay Wanchik Memorial - Stephanie Coffman – Schereville; Pani Jeanette Moriak Memorial- Joanna Puzakulics; Graduate John Fucsko – Homestead and  Seminarian - William George – Rockaway.

The keynote address was given by Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak, National Junior ACRY Spiritual advisor.  In his address, Fr. Miles spoke about how our perception of others and the world around us changes as we mature in our faith.  As children we notice mainly only the physical features of others.  Often times children make comments about others based on these surface appearances, which are not always flattering. Plus the world desires us to see things and others through its own ideology, which is based on popular culture and cultural norms.  However, our Lord shows us how to see things through faith based on His truth.  He gives us the ability to mature spiritually; So, we can see others as His creation and as our neighbors deserving of our love and compassion.  Also Fr. Miles mentioned that a mature faith produces mature actions, which actions are rooted in doing and following God’s will and not giving into cultural norms because it is easier to live a life in that way. Fr. Miles held up the Elder Eleazar from II Maccabees as prime example of one following God’s will, not culture to set the standard for one’s life. 

Father commended the National ACRY for it examples it has shown in serving Christ and His Church and urged everyone to continue to move Forever Forward and Heavenward in a spiritually maturing faith.

Many thanks are offered to the Homestead, PA Chapter 11 for a job well done in offering their gracious hospitality  in hosting this year's convention.

The next National ACRY event will be the 64th  Metropolitan Orestes Memorial ACRY Bowling Tournament, which will take place Memorial day weekend 2012 (May 25-28) in Phoenixville, PA.

Complete Photogallery of the 2011 Convention may be viewed here.