A Reflection on the 2014 National ACRY Convention

NATIONAL ACRY --- For those of you who were able to join us at  the 70th Senior & 31st Junior National ACRY Convention, hosted by the Holy Ghost ACRY Chapter #30 of Phoenixville, PA over Labor Day weekend, you already know what a fantastic time was had by all! For those of you who were unable to attend, here’s a short recap of the weekend…

For those wishing to brave the early tee times, Friday morning kicked off with a golf outing at Bella Vista Golf Course. By early afternoon, delegates and guests began to arrive at the beautiful Crowne Plaza hotel in King of Prussia, PA. Registration began at 4:00 and the host chapter provided a well-stocked table of delicious food and drinks beginning at 5:00 and lasting until 11:00. During that time the Sr. & Jr. Boards convened to discuss business before the official gavel dropped on Saturday morning, officially kicking off the delegate business sessions.

At the Saturday business session, many key issues were discussed, including the following:

We passed the annual budget for the coming year. A new ACRY Annual cover design was passed. The By-Laws were amended to add the Custodian of Properties job description. Our Pass The Hat charity collection was designated to go to the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). The Lenten Retreat dates are as follows... 3/28/14 Eastern in Phoenixville; 3/21/14 Central in Homestead; 3/28/14 Western (no designated church as yet). A discussion was held with regards in future years to hold our Annual Lenten Retreat in the East in conjunction with the Ukrainian Orthodox Youth League.

The following national donations were approved:

Camp Nazareth $1,000.00; Metropolitan Orestes Perpetual Fund $500.00; Metropolitan Orestes Grave Upkeep $150.00; Distinguished Diocesan Donors $250.00.

The proceeds of the 2015 Lots-O-Luck Calendar fundraiser ( which is being coordinated by Bayonne Chapter #36) was designated as follows: Mission Fund $5,000.00; Diocesan Library $1,000.00; General Fund of the ACRY $1,750.00; Scholarship Fund $1,750.00 and the Youth Conference Fund $500.00.

We awarded Five Freshman Scholarships, Two Sophomore Scholarships, Two Junior Scholarships, One Senior Scholarship, One Metropolitan Orestes Memorial Scholarship, One Seminarian Scholarship, One Trade/Technical Scholarship and the Mary Kay Wanchik Memorial Scholarship.

The Newly Elected Senior Officers are President Amy Coffman, Vice President Rachel Pribish, Financial Secretary Debbie Samilenko, Treasurer Barbara Fitzgerald, Chief Auditor Kevin Coffman, Auditor John Puzakulics, Auditor Alex Breno, Athletic Director Joanna Puzakulics, Sergeant-at-Arms Mark Sudik. Presidential Appointments: National Secretary Maryann Hudak, Publicity Director Greg Kushner, Custodian of Properties Donna Yarina, Junior Advisor Angela Sudik.

His Grace Bishop Gregory’s Clergy Appointments: Bishop’s Representative -  Very Rev Protopresbyter Frank Miloro, Senior Spiritual Advisor - Very Rev Protopresbyter Peter Paproski, Junior Spiritual Advisor - Very Rev Miles Zdinak, ACRY Annual Editor- Very Rev. Protopresbyter Mark Leasure and ACRY Annual  Business Manager - Very Rev. Andrew Fetchina.

Saturday evening’s festivities brought the much anticipated return of ‘A Nite at the Races’ (originally done back in 2003 by the host chapter). It was once again a huge hit that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  The race winners were then entered in drawings for over 30 gift baskets.

Divine Liturgy was held at Holy Ghost Orthodox Church in Phoenixville, PA on Sunday morning. A special highlight of the beautiful service was the was the ordination to the Holy Priesthood of Deacon Matthew Dutko. Fr. Matthew and Pani Katie left after the Convention, to go to Fr. Matthew’s new Church, St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church in Woodstock, GA. Everyone wished them well.

On Sunday Afternoon the following workshops were held:

1) Making National Events More Successful,

2) Time lines and Manuals for National Events,

3) Meeting the Needs of Young Adults in the ACRY

4) Getting g the ACRY 100% On-Line for Communications and Business

5) Increasing Membership in the ACRY.

The workshop committees will be working thru the year to complete the task.

After the Invocation by His Grace, Bishop Gregory, the singing of God Bless America & Ja Rusyn Byl and the presentation of roses to his Grace by Tatiana & Nadia Kushner and Bryan Bilanin, the newly elected ACRY officers were installed.

During dinner, Convention Chairman John J. Bilanin welcomed all delegates and guests to the Grand Banquet. After a delicious meal and remarks by the National Junior President, Josef Samilenko and National Senior President Amy Coffman, His Grace Bishop Gregory delivered the main address in his usual charismatic way, keying on the future of the Church being the youth. He spoke lovingly of Camp Nazareth and the great experiences all that have ever gone share. He asked all in attendance that ever went or worked at the camp to go to the middle of the dance floor. By the time we all made our way out it seemed that there were more of us on the floor than those remaining in seats.

The evening continued with dancing to the sounds of the Bill Koss Combo and later, an after-hours DJ Party for those wanting to extend the weekend just a little bit longer.

As a member of the host chapter, I was pleased to see the turnout we had for the event and the fun everyone had. I knew that all of the hard work that each of us put into the weekend was worth it, as was evident on the smiling faces of those in attendance. It was noted earlier in the weekend, by His Grace, that the coasters had “Drink, Think, Relax” written on them and that is what we should do, to enjoy time with family and friends.

If you made the trip to King of Prussia over Labor Day weekend, thank you! We enjoyed being your host for the weekend. I hope to see you all again at next year’s Bowling Tournament in Stratford, CT. Bring a friend!

Greg Kushner,
Sr. ACRY Publicity Director