2009 National ACRY Convention Highlights


September 24, 2009
BINGHAMTON, NY  - - The 65th Annual Convention of the National Senior and Junior ACRY (American Carpatho Russian Youth) took place on Labor Day Weekend, Fri September 4 - Monday September 7, 2009 at the Holiday Inn in Binghamton, NY. This year's convention was hosted by the St. Michael's Church of Binghamton, NY ACRY Chapter #40. Those in attendance enjoyed the gracious hospitality of the Binghamton Chapter.

The Junior ACRY under the leadership of President Alex Breno, Senior Advisors, Amy Oblinsky and Adam Rogers and Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Miles Zdinak set into motion plans to further the growth of the Jr ACRY and its outreach to the youth of the diocese.

During their convention sessions, the Jr. ACRY recapped the highlights of the past year with particular attention paid to the commemoration the 25th anniversary of the National Jr. ACRY and the group's trip to our diocesan mission of Saint John the Compassionate in Toronto, Ontario.

The group also had a special workshop Sunday afternoon with Mother Raphaela, the abbess of the monastery of The Holy Myrrhbearers in Otego, New York. Mother Raphaela urged the youth to take time each day to be alone with God in order to help foster a practical spirituality in each of their daily lives. She also impressed upon the group how important the daily reading of Holy Scripture was for their spiritual development.

The Junior ACRY decided to do a special Lenten project this coming year to benefit the Saint Nicholas Orphanage in Slovakia. The details of the project will be announced in the coming months.

The Juniors conducted their "pass the hat" collection for the assistance of the Three Hierarchs Eastern Orthodox School in Pittsburgh, which is in need of a new roof for the building it now occupies.

The Encounter sponsored by the Jr. ACRY will be held at Camp Nazareth on November 6-8 with all youth eight to eighteen invited to attend. Look to the diocesan paper and website for more detaisl of this event in the near future.

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 Pani Deborah Zak of the Clymer, Chapter at Large., $10,000 was raised during the past year. The proceeds of the fundraiser were distributed in the following manner: $5,000 to the Diocesan Mission Fund, and $2,500 for ACRY Blessing Fund, $500 for Serbian Orphanage, $1,000 to St. John the Compassionate Mission, and $1,000.00 St. Nicholas Home for Children, Medzilaborce Slovakia. It was decided that the proceeds of the 2010 Lots of Luck Calendar will be allocated to the Diocesan Mission Fund, The Diocesan Apostolate for Youth, The Three Hierarchs Orthodox School in Pittsburgh, PA, The ACRY Publication Fund, and the Junior ACRY for their annual Fall Encounter.

Other charitable donations approved at the Convention include, $2,500.00 to Camp Nazareth, $1,000.00 to the Diocesan Apostolate of Youth, $500.00. to Christ The Saviour Seminary. $500.00 to the Metropolitan Orestes Perpetual Fund and $150.00 for the care of Metropolitan Orestes' grave. The "pass the hat" collection was taken to benefit the victims of the recent tragic shooting at the Binghamton, NY Civic Center.

One of the most significant items of discussion was the new strategic plan for the ACRY. The delegates amended the by-laws of the ACRY to include the new ACRY Mission and Vision. In addition to the new mission and vision statements, the strategic plan called for the establishment of four subcommittees, Technology, Membership, Publicity and Charitable Outreach/Missions and the development of implementation strategies, and the articulation of annual and three to five year goals.

In an ongoing effort to reinvigorate the ACRY and increase awareness of the ACRY within the diocese, it was decided that the ACRY website become an organic part of the newly redesigned diocesan website. This decision will allow the ACRY to take advantage of all of the multi-media and technological enhancements of the diocesan website as well as its user friendly content management system which will allow the website to be quickly and easily updated.

In the coming year, the membership committee will be hard at work preparing promotional materials explaining the mission and vision of the ACRY, to assist in reversing the significant decline in membership that has taken place during the past several years.

The delegates also decided to discontinue the Miss Sr. ACRY position, to allow the creation of a new position to be known as an ACRY Ambassador, which would be open to both men and women. The purpose of this new position would be to assist with the promotion of the ACRY through participation in charitable/missionary activities as well as representing the ACRY at various diocesan and parish events. The specifics of this new position will be further developed during the course of the year by the committee appointed for this task.

Recognizing the need for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, 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. Protopresbyter Peter Paproski, National Senior ACRY Spiritual Advisor and Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak, National JR ACRY Spiritual Advisor, and the Very Rev. Protopresbyters James Dutko and John Fedornock.

Following the final business session on Saturday, the delegates traveled to St. Michael's Church for Great Vespers which were celebrated by the Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak.

Saturday evening was spent at St. Michael's recreational center where the delegates and guests enjoyed a delicious meal served by the faithful of St. Michael's Church. Following the meal, those present participated in a trivia contest. Working as a team, each table answered various trivia questions and participated in special contests which tested their dancing, singing and athletic abilities. The interactive, family-friendly format of the evening provided a wonderful opportunity for those in attendance to get to know each other better and enjoy good Christian fellowship.

Sunday Divine Liturgy was celebrated at St. Michael's Church in Binghamton, NY by Very Rev. Protopresbyter Frank P. Miloro, Diocesan Chancellor, who represented His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas, assisted by Very Rev. Protopresbyter James Dutko, host pastor, Very Rev. Protopresbyter Peter Paproski, National Sr. ACRY Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Fr. Miles Zdinak, National Junior ACRY Spiritual Advisor, Very Rev. Protopresbyer John Fedornock and Very Rev. Michael Zak The choral responses to the Liturgy were beautifully sung by the St. Michael's Choir and the parish cantorial singers.

Other highlights of the convention weekend included presentations on the Junior ACRY Summer Mission Trip to St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto Ontario, Rusyn Culture by the Kundrat and Korchak families and the Convention Grand Banquet, which took place on Sunday Evening..
At the Grand Banquet the following scholarships were awarded:

Freshman: Allison Tusick, Chapter #7 Ambridge:
Sophomore: Alex Righetti, Chapter #7 Ambridge;
Senior : Nicholas Matyas, Chapter #40 Binghamton;
Metropolitan Orestes Memorial : Caitlin Righetti, Chapter #7 Ambridge
Mary Kay Wanchik Memorial: Allison Tusick, Chapter #7 Ambridge

Other presentations included the Chapter Achievement Award which was given to Chapter 33, Nesquehoning, PA, and the Sunday School Teacher of the Year Award, to Dr. Louise Brudnak of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Johnstown, PA..

The newly elected SR ACRY officers include the following:

President Nicholas Dzubak
Vice President Amy Oblinsky
National Secretary Maryann Hudak
Financial Secretary Christina Dutko
Treasurer Debbie Samilenko
Sergeant-at-Arms John Fedornock
Athletic Director Sarah Sherry
Chief Auditor Stephanie Nakonecznyj
Auditor Alex Righetti
Auditor Stacey Carlisle
Publicity Director Danielle Bartko
Custodian of Properties Donna Yarina
Junior Advisor Matthew Dutko

Junior ACRY officers include:

Alex Breno - President
Maria Korchak - Vice President
Emily Tusick - Corresponding Secretary
Joanna Puzakulics - Treasurer
Angela Sudick - Financial Secretary
Paul Zdinak - Sergeant At Arms
Irene Grysiak - Publicity Director
Charles Halapin - Auditor
Mary Korchak - Auditor

The participants in this year's 65th National Convention, were blessed with the opportunity to gather together as a family in Christ, to chart the future of the ACRY, and enjoy Christian fellowship. As The Very Rev. Protopresbyter Peter Paproski, pointed out in his keynote address at the Sunday Evening Grand Banquet, during their time together in Binghamton, the delegates realized that despite the challenges facing the ACRY and our diocese, there is a wonderful opportunity for revitalization and growth on the ACRY and diocesan levels, if we are willing to "think outside of the box, and try new and creative approaches to spreading and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

For more information about the ACRY and to learn how to become a member, visit the ACRY website at www.acrod.org/organizations/sracry.