Register now for 92nd National FOCA Convention July 20-23

Now is the time to make plans to attend the 92nd National Convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA] at Saint Louis, MO’s Union Station Hotel July 20-23, 2018.

“This year’s convention will be held in conjunction with the 19th All-American Council [AAC] of the Orthodox Church in America, which opens July 23 and concludes July 27,” says Deacon Peter Ilchuk. “The last national convention was held in Saint Louis 32 years ago, and much has changed since then, providing many reasons to return.”

According to Deacon Peter, the MetroLink Red Line provides regular service from Lambert International Airport to downtown Saint Louis. The Union Station stop is located a few blocks from the hotel. The next station on the MetroLink line stops at the new Busch Stadium, with its spectacular Ballpark Village entertainment and dinining complex and the multi-floor Saint Louis Cardinals’ Baseball Hall of Fame. The line extends to the “must see” landmark Gateway Arch and Lacledes Landing.

Many of the city’s “classic” tourist sites, including the Budweiser Brewery and Biergarten, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the 90 acre Saint Louis Zoo with its 18,000 animals from 700 species, have been upgraded over the years. Other nearby attractions providing outstanding family experiences include Six Flags Saint Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden — the oldest in the US — and the City Museum.

Saint Louis loves its sports teams, Deacon Peter adds, as evidenced by the sellout crowds for hockey at the nearby Scottrade Center and Cardinals baseball at Busch Stadium. While the Cardinals will not be home during the convention and AAC, ballpark tours, which include the press box, luxury clubs, field and dugout, are available four times daily. The stadium boasts many interesting statues, including one of Stan Musial.

Other convention tips offered by the FOCA include the following.

    • Transportation. Saint Louis is easily accessible by air, Amtrak train or auto. American, Southwest, Delta, United and Frontier airlines provide frequent and, in many cases, direct service from major metropolitan areas. While Amtrak no longer serves historic Union Station, it maintains platforms at nearby Gateway Station. Amtrak service from Chicago can be quite reasonable, with fares as low as $27.00 each way with an advance purchase for the five hour plus trip.
    • Lodging. The Union Station Hotel, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, boasts an outdoor pool and a fitness center. The station — a national historic landmark built in the late 1890s — was once the world’s largest and busiest. The special convention/AAC room rate is $134.00 plus tax. Please mention/reference the Orthodox Church in America when making reservations online or by calling 314-231-1234. The hotel registration deadline is Friday, June 29.
    • Schedule. The 92nd National Convention will follow the usual Friday-Monday schedule with various events, plenary sessions, liturgical services and activities. Friday morning will open with a golf tournament, in which FOCA and AAC attendees and guests are invited to participate. That evening, a Saint Louis-themed open house will be held. Plenary sessions will dominate Saturday’s schedule. The celebration of Great Vespers and an evening dinner event “under the stars” at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium will bring the day to a close. Sunday will open with the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and, in the evening, a grand banquet and dance. The final plenary session will be held on Monday. Special events include a Saturday trolley tour of Saint Louis, which includes a stop at the Gateway Arch. Children and teens will enjoy participating in their own fun-filled Convention program coordinated by the OCA’s Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry in partnership with the FOCA.
    • Commemorative Program Book. Ads and listings in the Convention/AAC commemorative book are now being accepted. Several options, ranging in price from $150.00 for a full page ad to $20.00 for a one-line patron listing, are available. Ads should be submitted as PDFs or Word files to focabook@gmail.com. Checks payable to the OCA should be mailed to Donna Tesar, 5068 West Sixth Street, Brooklyn Heights, OH 44131 before the June 1 deadline.

April 25 deadline for submitting 19th AAC resolutions, Statute revisions

The Resolutions Committee of the 19th All-American Council [AAC] of the Orthodox Church in America is now accepting proposed resolutions for consideration by AAC delegates. The deadline for submitting proposals is April 25, 2018.

“Parishes, deaneries, dioceses, and stavropegial institutions may submit proposed resolutions and amendments for consideration well before the AAC convenes in Saint Louis, MO July 23-27, 2018,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “All information relating to resolutions and statute amendments is posted on the AAC web site.”

Proposed resolutions may be sent to resolutions.19aac@oca.org or by mail to the Resolutions Committee, 19th All-American Council, c/o the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791.

“After review by the Resolutions Committee, proposals will be published and posted by May 24, 2018 — 60 days before the AAC, as required by Article III, Section 5 of the current Statute of the Orthodox Church in America,” Father Eric added. “Resolutions also may be proposed during the course of the AAC itself.”

The Resolutions Committee will review all submitted proposals and, if necessary, discuss possible editorial changes with the submitting body. Should substantially identical resolutions be submitted, the Committee will consolidate them into a single resolution, again in consultation with the submitting bodies. If, in the estimation of the Committee, a proposed resolution clearly lies outside the AAC’s competence, whether on canonical grounds or due to conflict with the OCA Statute, the Committee will inform the submitting body accordingly. In case of doubt, a proposed resolution will be submitted to the Holy Synod to determine whether it can be brought before the AAC. Should a proposed resolution be determined to lie outside the competence of the AAC, the Committee, in consultation with the Holy Synod and the proposing body, will consider alternative ways of bringing issues underlying the proposed resolution to the attention of the Council’s delegates.

“After reviewing submissions, the Resolutions Committee will turn over proposed resolutions to the Preconciliar Commission for inclusion on the AAC’s agenda,” Father Eric explained. “Deliberation on proposed resolutions will take place in plenary sessions throughout the course of the Council.”

Resolutions from parishes normally include the signatures of the parish priest and the president of the parish council; those submitted by deaneries bear the signatures of the dean and other priests of the deanery. Resolutions from dioceses include the signatures of the bishop and the diocesan chancellor, while those submitted by stavropegial institutions bear the signatures of the abbot, dean or rector and at least one other member of the institution in question. Resolutions will be sent to the respective diocesan hierarchs, who will sign and forward them to the Resolutions Committee.

In line with the OCA Statute, Article XVII, amendments to the Statute may be submitted to the Commission on Statutes and Canons prior to the 19th All-American Council. The deadline also is April 25.

“Amendments may be proposed by the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council, diocesan assemblies, diocesan councils, deaneries, parish assemblies, parish councils, monasteries, and seminaries,” Father Eric noted. “A proposed amendment must be submitted to the Commission on Statutes and Canons at least 90 days prior to the date set for the convening of an All-American Council. All proposed amendments must be received by the Commission by April 25, 2018 and will be published by May 24, 2018 — 60 days before the Council, per Statute Article XVII, Section 3.

“The Commission on Statutes and Canons will consider proposed amendments and may either approve, consolidate, or return them,” Father Eric concluded. “An amendment of the Statute requires a two-thirds majority of the delegates of an AAC present and voting and becomes effective immediately upon the final adjournment of the AAC unless otherwise noted.”

Statute submissions should be sent to statute.19aac@oca.org or by mail to the Statute Commission, 19th All-American Council, c/o Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791.

Members of the Resolution Committee include His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest, Chair of the 19th AAC Preconciliar Commission; Archpriest Dimitri Cozby; Michael Strelka; and Judge E. R. Lanier, OCA General Counsel.

Members of the Commission on Statutes and Canons include His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, Chair; Archpriest Ioan Cozma; Archpriest John Erickson; Archpriest Alexander Rentel; and Judge E. R. Lanier.

Help Alaskan, Mexican delegates attend the 19th All-American Council

In an effort to assist delegates from the Dioceses of Alaska and Mexico participate in the
19th All-American Council [AAC], a special appeal has been announced by the Preconcilliar Commission to help defray travel and associated expenses.

The AAC will convene in Saint Louis, MO July 23-27, 2018.

“The unusually high costs associated with travel from Alaska and Mexico, combined with local financial realities, prohibits most clergy and lay delegates from those dioceses from attending the AAC,” said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary. “For example, the cost of a sending a delegate from Alaska can run as a high as $2,000.00 for travel alone. Travel costs for those attending from Mexico are equally high.

As in the past, the Preconciliar Commission is asking for parishes, organizations and individuals to donate toward offsetting travel expenses,” Father Eric explained. “This can be done through a cash donation or even transferable travel points to be applied to the purchase of airfare.”

All donations may be sent to Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791 and specifically designated for the “Alaska/Mexico Delegate Fund.” Questions and specific concerns may be directed to Melanie at mringa@oca.org.

“It is hoped to fund 12 delegates from Alaska — four clergy, four laypersons and four youth — and three clergy and three lay delegates from Mexico,” Father Eric concluded.

The associated approximate costs are as follows:

For Mexico
Airplane Ticket $400.00
Hotel: $150.00 per night x five nights – $750.00
Train to hotel and back to airport – $20.00
Meals: $40.00 per day for six days – $240.00
Total $1,410.00

For Alaska
Flight(s): Anchorage to and from St. Louis – $1000.00; Transport to and from Anchorage – $500.00
Transport to hotel and airport – $20.00
Hotel: $150.00 per night x five nights – $750.00
Meals: $40 per day for six days – $240.00
Total: $2,510.00

AAC youth registration deadline extended to April 15

As announced earlier, the 19th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, slated to convene in Saint Louis, MO July 23-27, 2018, will feature an exciting and inspiring program for children and youth ages five through 18.

The deadline for the early bird discounted youth registration rate of $200.00 is now available through April 15, according to Priest Benjamin Tucci, Youth Program Coordinator. After April 15, the rate will increase to $250.00, with a final registration deadline of May 4. Online registration is available.

“During the week-long program, participants will explore our Orthodox Faith, meet youth from across North America, and experience the sights and sounds of Saint Louis,” Father Benjamin said. “Each day, educational programs and workshop activities will explore the lives of the saints and the AAC theme, ‘For the Life of the World,’ with lessons in age appropriate groups. As at past AACs, youth participants will offer a brief presentation of their activities with AAC delegates and observers during a plenary session.”

Additional volunteers — especially adults with experience as lifeguards, chaperones and religious education instructors — are being sought to help facilitate the program. Prospective volunteers may register online.

Questions may be directed to Father Benjamin at 612-599-1125 or frbentucci@gmail.com.

A draft of the youth program also is available online. also is available online.

Detailed information with regard to scholarships, transportation and fundraising ideas to offset AAC participation fees also is available.