Reflections on The 2013 National Convention

After flying into Chicago’s Midway airport and taking the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) to the hotel, I was looking forward to an exciting Convention, hosted by Chapter #68 Niles. I was not disappointed! We arrived Thursday at the Chicago O’Hare Marriott, in order to extend our mini-vacation by a day, to allow us to take in some of the sites and flavors of Chicago.

After checking into our room and getting something to eat, we got back on the CTA and headed for the center of the city to find the big bean, something I admittedly knew nothing about but was on my older daughter’s must see list… So, off to the bean we went. For those unfamiliar with it, like myself, it’s an expansive sculpture (33 ft x 42 ft x 66 ft) at Millennium Park in the center of Chicago. It’s real name, as I later looked up online, is Cloud Gate. It is indeed bean-shaped but also quite large and reflective. After spending a few minutes walking around it and taking pictures, we moved on to see some more of the sites that Chicago had to offer. As late afternoon faded into evening, we headed back to the hotel to get rest for the whirlwind weekend ahead.

Friday morning we headed to Wrigley Field, with a group of about 30 or so fellow ACRY members, including His Grace Bishop Gregory, to see the Phillies play the Cubs in what turned out to be a very good game, especially if you were a Phillies fan. After the game, it was back to the hotel to relax a bit before going to the hospitality room for some delicious food offered by the host chapter, then off to the Friday night Board meetings.

Saturday, after the business sessions concluded we boarded buses to do some site-seeing before meeting up at Holy Trinity Cathedral (founded in 1892 as St. Vladimir’s Russian Orthodox Church) to hear about the rich history of the building and it’s amazing architecture. It was designated a Cathedral in 1923 and in 1976 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. After spending about an hour at the Cathedral, we drove a short distance to the Ukrainian Cultural Center for an authentic ethnic dinner before heading back onto one of the two buses… One, heading back to the hotel, and the other, to see the fireworks at Navy Pier, located on the Chicago lakefront. Those of us who chose to see the fireworks were not disappointed! We arrived back at the hotel late but had a very fun-filled evening.

Sunday morning, the faithful made their way to St. Michael’s Church in Niles for a spectacular service, highlighted by Ordinations by His Grace Bishop Gregory of Fr. Jonathan Bannon and Rev. Deacon Peter Sodini. Afterwards a wonderful brunch was offered to honor them, as well as the visiting members of the 2013 National ACRY Convention.

In the Sunday afternoon business sessions the following Officers were elected/appointed:

Sr. ACRY Officers: President – Amy Coffman; Vice-President – Rachel Pribish; Secretary – Maryann Hudak; Financial Secretary – Barbara Fitzgerald; Treasurer – Debbie Samilenko; Sgt.-at-Arms – Stephanie Coffman; Athletic Director – Danielle Bartko; Auditors – Kevin Coffman, Katherine Steinstra and Mark Sudik; Publicity Director – Greg Kushner; Custodian of Properties – Donna Yarina; Junior Advisors – Angela Sudik and Rachel Pribish; Spiritual Advisor – Very Rev. Protopresbyter Fr. Peter Paproski.

Jr. ACRY Officers: President - Tim Paproski; Vice President – Josef Samilenko; Corresponding Secretary – Paul Zdinak; Financial Secretary – Alexa Fitzgerald; Treasurer – Jess Pak; Publicity Director – Tatiana Kushner; Sgt. At-Arms – Samuel Loposky; Auditors – Bryan Bilanin and Juliana Zdinak; Spiritual Advisor – Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak.

In addition, Very Rev. Protopresbyter Fr. Mark Leasure was re-appointed as National Editor and Very Rev. Fr. Andrew Fetchina was re-appointed as the ACRY Annual Business Manager.

With the business portion of the weekend behind us, it was time to relax, or do some more sightseeing, before getting ready for the Grand Banquet. After dinner, His Grace Bishop Gregory spoke about many issues concerning the future growth of our organization as well as a sports comment or two. He also had all campers in attendance go to the middle of the dance floor, so all could see who the future of our ACRY is.

Also during dinner the annual ‘Pass the Hat’ collection was taken for the benefit of Anastasios Labi, the two month old child of Fr. Basil Labi of Ghana who is in need of a heart operation. A total of $1,026 was collected for this very worthy cause!

It was now time for the presentation of the Scholarship awards. This year’s recipients were as follows:

• Freshman Scholarships: Philip Breno and John Puzakulics
• Sophomore Scholarships: Alex Breno, Kyra Leasure and Andrew Koss
• Junior Scholarships: Ileana Righetti and Zachery Koss
• Senior Scholarship: Kevin Coffman
• Graduate Scholarship: Rachel Pribish
• Trade/Technical Scholarship: Joanna Puzakulics
• Seminarian Scholarships: Matthew Dutko and William Bennett
• Mary Kay Wanchik Memorial Scholarship: Ileana Righetti

As dinner neared its end and the time for dancing and camaraderie was near, it was time to crown the new Miss Jr. ACRY & Mr. Jr. ACRY for the coming year. Those honors went to Miss Jess Pak and Mr. Josef Samilenko respectively.

The next morning came too quickly for many and as we all said our goodbyes and wished our friends safe travel, we headed home with fond memories of our wonderful time in Chicago!

Less than 8 months until the Bowling Tournament in Elizabeth, NJ!

Greg Kushner
Sr. ACRY Publicity Director