Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America Celebrates 84th Annual Convention in Pittsburgh


PITTSBURGH, PA [FOCA/ Nicholas Ressetar] — Gathering at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh for the 84 annual FOCA convention traditionally held over the Labor Day weekend were several hundred delegates, members, youth, friends and guests.

National President Polly Walker presided over the convention which was highlighted by

* the unanimous decision to support the new Saint Tikhon’s Seminary married student housing project (involving the purchase and renovation of a former school building) and to release $75,000 in funds. Following a presentation by new seminary dean, Father Alexander Atty, an additional $125,000 has been pledged.

* Metropolitan Jonah’s address to the convention body on Friday morning and his question-answer period, in which he implored the FOCA to continue its good works, especially in the area of youth ministry.

* the active participation and presence of both Bishops Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Michael of New York/New Jersey throughout the weekend, including their celebration of the Sunday Divine Liturgy and remarks at the grand banquet, in which the FOCA was urged “to tell its story” in an effort to grow.

* a Powerpoint presentation by Neena Konon and Nicholas Ressetar from the Fellowship’s reorganization committee on ways to revitalize the OCA’s oldest and largest officially affiliated organization, followed by a “world café” table discussion.

Also addressing the convention and participating was OCA Chancellor, Father Alexander Garklavs. The FOCA’s spiritual advisor, Father William Evansky, coordinated the liturgical services. Lory Nescott served as convention choir director and Father John Steffaro was banquet toastmaster. A general memorial service was celebrated Saturday morning at which newly-departed members were remembered, including Archbishop Job and George Lichvarik, as was the FOCA’s founder and first president, Father Vladimir Prislopsky, on the 40 anniversary of his respose. Led by Bishops Melchisedek and Michael, eight priests concelebrated the Divine Liturgy, assisted by four deacons and several altar servers. FOCA life member Metropolitan Theodosius was present.

Other activities included a murder mystery dinner theater and visit to the Fort Duquesne Incline; a Gateway Clipper dinner cruise on Pittsburgh’s three rivers; a Carpatho-Rusyn bus tour of significant area sites by John Righetti, Carpatho-Rusyn Society president; a Steelers preseason game and Pirates baseball game. Some attended the Holy Trinity Greek Festival nearby.

The newly-elected officers are Dr. John Schultz, president; Michael Steffaro, vice president; Rebecca Tesar, secretary; and Michael Bowan, treasurer. Polly Walker remains on the board as immediate past president and Father Evansky continues as spiritual advisor.

The convention was sponsored by the FOCA’s Pittsburgh District, with Danielle Evansky and Dr. Schultz as co-chairs. Next year’s convention, sponsored by the South River “R” Club, will be held at the Westin Hotel in Old Alexandria, VA over the Labor Day weekend 2011.

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