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After less than five months in office, Paul Bodnar has been dismissed as Secretary of the OCA. According to sources close to Syosset, Bodnar cleared out his desk on Thursday, November 29th. His duties as Secretary will be assumed by the Chancellor, Treasurer and Director of Communications.

Bodnar's official title had already been given to the Chancellor . As reported in the Minutes of the Synod meeting of October 17th, the OCA admitted that Bodnar, a Canadian citizen, faced "immigration problems", and that "until the matter is clarified satisfactorily" the new Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, would be "temporarily appointed" Acting Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America. At the time the OCA downplayed the issue as "a visa extension application delayed in routine INS processing."

Because of his immigration status, the OCA could never 'pay' Bodnar for his services, and eventually was forced to admit a loan process had been worked out to keep the OCA within what Syosset would claim was the letter of the law. Fr. Michael Tassos, the new OCA Treasurer, explained the arrangement in a November 13th press release:" ....it was brought to my attention that Mr. Bodnar is still awaiting the transfer of his I-94 multiple entry permit from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco to the OCA and that certain monthly amounts have been advanced to him.

I reviewed the signed notes for each check that Mr. Bodnar has received...." The status of the 'loans' to Mr. Bodnar given in lieu of his salary, are now unclear, especially since it is not known at this time whether Bodnar is considering legal action challenging his abrupt dismissal, or what has been the amount of any severance payment or settlement to him to forestall the possibility. It is known that Mr. Bodnar recently bought a house in the Syosset area and that he moved his family there from California. Given an OCA already reeling from a $1.7 miliion loan and continuing cash flow woes, a lawsuit or large settlement would be a major, additional financial woe.

Neither immigration problems nor money, however, precipitated the dismissal according to sources close to Syosset. The major reason was dissatisfaction by others in the administration with Bodnar's attempts to assume the responsibilities of his office, according to the job description provided by the "Reorganization Task Force", headed by Mr. Robert Kornafel, and implemented by Deacon John Zarras, the OCA's "Transition Officer" selected by Metropolitan Herman. (Read those duties here) Specifically, by attempting to "direct the administrative and personnel services of the central administration" he irritated the Transition Officer, Deacon Zarras. Most recently, by attempting to serve as the "team leader" for planning the next All American Council, Bodnar irritated Bishop Nikon, the head of the Pre-Conciliar Commission.

The dismissal is a blow to the Reorganization scheme carried out by "Reorganization Task Force" and Deacon Zarras. Just six months ago Bodnar was highly touted by Kornafel's Task Force as someone who has "extensive experience in non-profit management activities and possesses in extraordinary quantity and quality the skills required of the position." (Read that report here) This glowing recommendation was followed by a August 11th press release on the first meeting of the new staff in which "All present were very positive about the outcome of this meeting, commenting on the productive and encouraging nature of their discussions."

In the next three months, though, the new system came under increasing strain. It became clear that four new people, three of whom had no previous experience with Syosset or the OCA, could not replace one all-powerful Chancellor, especially when all were theoretically equal, and all were to report directly to a largely absent Metropolitan. By October the new Chancellor was complaining to the Synod that the system was unworkable.

In June 2007 Deacon Zarras reported to the Metropolitan Council that it was "in a desire to assemble a staff of the highest possible caliber with clear definitions of job responsibilities and with the promise of developing into a cohesive team, that the utmost care has been given to getting it right." Clearly, it has not been possible to realize that desire, yet.

- Mark Stokoe





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