Monday, January 7. 2008
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I would go even further and contend that our "exalted" leadership is afraid of and even opposed to most mission projects that threaten their stranglehold on the Church with more troublesome converts. Their priorities reflect their empty faith and total disregard for the future of the OCA, otherwise how explain it? For those who contend that we can continue to go merrily on our way turning a blind eye to the failed leadership of our bishops (most) and the antics of their Syosset gnomes, this is proof positive that it just won't work.
My thanks to the reflecting priest who only spoke God's truth.
#1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-01-07 15:33
regarding: fear/hatred of converts--sad but true. While attending St. Tikkhon's Seminary a recruitment message for new seminarians went something like this: "while we rejoice in the number of converts attending the seminaries it is TIME FOR US TO TAKE BACK THE CHURCH (my emphasis)" -- that is; we must recruit more seminarians from the ethnic parishes.
I am 'quoting' from memory, so please don't take this as a literal quote: however; the words "it is time to take back the Church" are seared in my memory. This message was the beginning of my wake up call that St. Tikhon's was not the loving, pastoral haven of true Orthodoxy that I was led to believe it was. Converts = second-hand citizens, a necessary evil (absolutely necessary, given that my graduation class was about 95% converts ! )
#1.1 AnonPriest(ArchD.ofC.) on 2008-01-07 17:21
I am at St. Tikhon's right now, and I can attest to the fact that except for a small minority of Arabs from overseas and one local Ukranian, there are no cradle Orthodox attending the seminary. When I attended a vocations retreat prior to enrolling I remember the dean taking a poll of who was convert and who was cradle, and afterwards saying that the number of converts to the Faith was great, but that he was sad they "weren't getting any of their own boys" (exact words used). And hey, it is something to be sad about, and I never took it to be in any way anti-convert, nor do I ever feel as though converts here are treated as second class citizens. Bishop Tikhon is a convert, as is Hegumen Juvenaly, Father Sergius who heads the music department, and at least half of the faculty and the monastic brotherhood, so I don't buy that at all. The only occasions I have ever witnessed where a convert is treated "second-class" is when we have had someone who insists on bringing their protestant or RC bagage with them into the Church. And this not at the hands of cradles, but at the hands of other converts who truly desire to be Orthodox.
#1.1.1 OCA Seminarian on 2008-01-08 15:07
so in other words, as a convert, you are not one of **their** own boys. Who is "their"?
Yes, Bp. Tikhon, et al are converts, but I would submit that they hold their positions precisely because there is no one else.
However, as you note, the pattern of cradle/convert ratio at the seminaries is holding, with the latter being probably over 90% the last few years. This leads me to believe that the church will change, grow, become stronger, once the cradle generation which still clings to power is gone. But the current reality is that what stymies progress is the insular, self-centered attitue of the 'old school.' This is reflected not only in the leadership of M.Herman, but in the decrepit spiritual state of most of the cradle / ethnic parishes. Just look at the Dioc. of E. Pa and name me five truly healthy parishes.
It indeed would be great if some of "their own boys" would start showing up at seminary. But looking at the dead parishes they need to come from, this isn't too likely
#126.96.36.199 AnonPriest on 2008-01-09 08:36
From: The Christian Century, December 28, 2004
'More Orthodox' than the Orthodox
by John Dart
IT'S COMMONLY observed that converts to a faith are the most ardent defenders of it. That seems to be the case with American converts to Orthodoxy. The large number of converts attending Orthodox seminaries prompted Alexey D. Krindatch, a sociologist of religion, to wonder whether an "Americanization" of Eastern Orthodoxy might lie ahead. His conclusion: "Probably not."
Responses from students at three seminaries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA)--the two largest Orthodox bodies in the U.S.--confirmed, he said, "the widespread notion that Protestant and Catholic converts tend to be 'more Orthodox' than persons who were born and raised" as Orthodox.
The converts expressed more conservative attitudes than Orthodox-born seminarians did on, for instance, accepting the authority of bishops and discouraging ecumenical worship and religiously mixed marriages. Krindatch reported his findings at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Asked why the tradition-bound, liturgically intricate Orthodox churches are attracting converts, Krindatch suggested in an interview that many of the former evangelical Protestants studying for the Orthodox priesthood see a "discrepancy" between their strong personal faith "and the fact that their churches have no historical roots in original Christianity, no apostolic succession and no liturgical atmosphere."
In the case of former Catholics and Episcopalians, however, converts are attempting to "return to their churches' religious experiences of 20 to 30 years ago, when their churches were more 'traditional.'"
While both Orthodox-born seminarians and the converts were relatively similar in religious upbringing, education and family income level, the former evangelicals "come from much wealthier families" that were very active churchgoers. The ex-evangelicals were more likely to have a higher level of secular education as well as businessmen fathers, and they "were more definite in their plans to be ordained and serve as priests" than were their classmates.
Krindatch surveyed seminarians at Holy Cross (Greek Orthodox) Seminary in the Boston suburb of Brookline, where 25 percent of the students are converts, and at two OCA seminaries, St. Vladimir's in Crestwood, New York, and St. Tikhon's in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. The majority of the students at the latter two are converts, he said.
Krindatch recently was named director for campus ministry and church growth at the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Krindatch, a faculty member at the Institute of Geography in Moscow, had been doing his research as a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, California.
The institute in Berkeley previously has dealt mainly with theological and historical issues, said Krindatch, but it "hopes to concentrate its future studies more on the contemporary situation and social changes within various American Orthodox churches."
Change has been slow by Western standards. In his survey, Krindatch found that 57 to 64 percent of convert seminarians agree that while most Orthodox Christians "are socially integrated into American society, the Orthodox churches as institutions are still perceived by the vast majority of Americans as "immigrant communities," compared to 46 percent of Orthodox-born who say that. At the same time, the proportion of the most pessimistic seminarians--those who say "the Orthodox churches still are and will remain 'strangers' to American society"--is higher among "cradle Orthodox" than among convert seminarians.
Cradle Orthodox students are also more pessimistic than the converts that the ethnically oriented Orthodox churches eventually will gain autonomy from mother churches abroad, or that a unified American Eastern Orthodox Church will emerge in decades to come.
Ex-Protestant seminarians may hope for ecumenical progress within Orthodoxy, but they tend to reject joint ecumenical prayers or services with non-Orthodox. Also, a significant proportion of both ex-Catholic (34 percent) and ex-Protestant (.36 percent of ex-mainliners and 52 percent of ex-evangelicals) seminarians say that Orthodox priests should try hard to discourage mixed marriages. Seminarians raised in Orthodox churches are somewhat more lenient on the issue, though not as accommodating as current priests in Orthodox parishes.
A separate survey of priests in Greek and OCA parishes found that two-thirds take a more liberal position on mixed marriages--but stay within church guidelines. In other words, priests would conduct such weddings when they are held in the Orthodox Church, and would encourage the non-Orthodox partner to join the church. "Only a minority of all seminarians (31 percent of OCA seminarians, 48 percent of Greek Orthodox seminarians) share the same view," Krindatch said.
Krindatch acknowledged that the seminarians' conservative stances, even if reflective of a generational trend, may evolve during "actual work in the parishes."
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-09 21:00
I constantly have to remind myself that the Diocese of EPA is the worst that the OCA has to offer, and that I can't let the state of affairs here bring me down, or I would find myself in a state of depression most of the time. Bishop Tikhon really has his work cut out for him, but I don't think one man's lifetime is enough time to fix all that needs fixing here. No, I could not name 5 parishes here that I would consisder healthy, but I could easily name more that 5 that should be closed, bulldozed, and have their properties sold to help with this finincial mess the Church is in. Anyway...back to the convert thing. I am just one of many converts that is raising the next generation of cradle Orthodox. I pray to God that the Church will get stronger, as you say, but I wish that we had more to learn from. Either way, the converts are definately the future of the Church in America. Despite all that is going on in the OCA the seminaries are packed. I don't think that is the case with the more ethnic jurisdictions, whose state is not that much better than how your described the cradle communities in the OCA.
#184.108.40.206.2 OCA Seminarian on 2008-01-09 21:04
I would like to correct the comment in the last reflection. The financial constraints that I spoke of has nothing to due with Archbishop JOB or the witholding. I never made the comment. As has long been stated, the Planting Grant relies directly on the money recieved for the February Mission Appeal. We give grants to mission exactly matching the amount recieved. So if we bring in $30,000 as we did in 2007, then that only allows two missions at $15,000 a mission for one year. If we we bring in (as we had averaged) $75,000 then that gives us 5 missions. The Planting Granst is totally divorced from the OCA budget.
It is through the kindness of a donor (whom I do not know who it was) that we were able to pick up 4 additional missions since the amount was $60,000. So thanks be to God we now have six missionson the Grant and were able to bring the other one back on.
If you have any questions regarding the Mission Grant program and its operation, please feel free to ask me. And of course, ask any of the number of the mission priests who have been on the Grant both in the past and the present. I am sure they can also explain exactly how it works, how successful it is and the positive spirit that their missions operate. I am humbled by their sacrifice and hard work in the difficult mission field. I only wish we could support ten of them each year.
Yours in Christ
Fr. Eric G. Tosi
Department of Evangelization
With all due respect, Father Eric, you said: “We give grants to mission exactly matching the amount recieved. So if we bring in $30,000 as we did in 2007, then that only allows two missions at $15,000 a mission for one year. If we we bring in (as we had averaged) $75,000 then that gives us 5 missions. The Planting Granst is totally divorced from the OCA budget.” However, this does not include what has happened in the past and quite honestly, does not mean past actions will not recur! Please refer to the “Loan secured and finalized” http://www.oca.org/NewsPrintable.asp?ID=1080 . If the planting grants are totally divorced from the OCA budget, please explain the repayment of $87,560.00 in the Mission Appeal funds listed. This reminds me of a saying I think we’ve all heard: You can fool all of the people some of the time (and you have) and some of the people all of the time (and you are) but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time (and you won’t).
#2.1 Watching in New Jersey on 2008-01-08 09:25
how Was that $87,560 from the Honesdale loan disbursed to missions, and in which year?
#2.1.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-08 12:20
Look, most of Syosset is cleaned out. We just need + Herman to leave as soon as possible. Although they'll have to take him out kicking and screaming, the time has come. He doesn't realize "HE" is hurting the Church and the recovery of the OCA. Staying on until Nov. to retire leaves the OCA in limbo for another 10 months. Say good-bye; go back to Wilkes-Barre...
#3 Anono-Moose on 2008-01-07 17:25
"You shall know them by their fruits." We sure know them, don't we. After so many years, the Talent they were entrusted with has been mostly squandered. The OCA leadership and most of its hierarchs would not even be able to return the ONE Talent they were given by the Master; they are beyond contempt and below the minimal standards Christ set for His sheep.
“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:24-30)
This latest reflection represents an incredible new low in informative journalism. The author connects many ideas that are simply not true.
Fact number one, the Metropolitan Council sets the budgets not the chancery staff in New York. It is also the Metropolitan Council that decided what positions to have in Syosset. The entire OCA at its All-American Councils sets the assessment amounts. It was not the diocesan assessments that caused the lack of mission grants, it was the lack of funding from the general populace of the OCA. Mr. Tobin how much did you contribute to missions?
The idea that this was somehow a conspiracy to disparage Archbishop Job is simply ridiculous. Whether the assessments were or were not withheld had nothing to do with the number of grants that could be funded. The number of grants was a function of how much money was raised for grants. The Midwest assessments have nothing to do with missions.
The author's suggestion that somehow $300,000 would have been available for missions is also incorrect. Speak to Fr. Mathew Tate if you disagree with the budget but it is unfair to pin it on the few remaining people in Syosset. Did you somehow miss the fact that a number of people were cut in 2007? I have various reports but as many as 15 people got the axe. I think that is pretty good proof that someone is looking at this.
In fairness to the author, I agree that the handling of the prior secretary was bungled and cost the OCA an unnecessary amount of money. However to also be fair to the task force that hired him they had an extremely difficult task to very quickly assemble a competent staff in a very short amount of time. Countless people have pontificated on this web site yet not a great many of them actually made a trip to Long Island to help clean up the disaster left by the former Chancellor. Perhaps if the former Chancellor had spent a bit more time developing competent staff instead of worrying about his precious amber cross or his next first class trip to Russia the OCA would not have found itself in the current mess. Perhaps if he had not ripped off the OCA to the tune of several hundreds of thousands of dollars the OCA would have put more money into into missions.
By the way Fr. Anonymous, it's interesting that you didn't give any credit to the anonymous donation of $60,000 for missions. You see, despite your sitting back in your easy chair and writing your missive that is full of mistakes there are some that actually want to see the OCA succeed. Here are a couple of suggestions: (1) think about what you want to write, (2) get your facts straight, (3) say a pray and ask yourself whether or not your actions help or hurt the situation. Will you be part of the solution or part of the problem?
I pray that the Lord would open your heart and mind to the fact that despite all of the ills that have happened in the past the Church is still here and new growth is already appearing. Maybe it's not as glamorous or titillating as you would like it, but the Church is beginning to heal.
(Editor's Note: In all fairness it must be pointed out that the reflection was written before the $60,000 donation was given; our publication schedule prevented it being published earlier.)
#5 Anon. on 2008-01-07 18:33
I will tell you how much I have contributed to missions when you tell me who you are. It really takes a lot of nerve to criticize or challenge people by name when you don't have the common decency to use yours.
#5.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-01-07 20:11
Anon you said: "Fact number one, the Metropolitan Council sets the budgets not the chancery staff in New York." Since the Honesdale loan is now an integral portion of our budget, did the Metropolitan Council have any say in acquiring this loan and how it was to be used?
#5.2 Wondering on 2008-01-08 09:33
I think you read the Reflection wrong - the author is simply talking about priorities. What is the priority of the Church - fancy things or missions? I think the Priest was saying that it seems that fancy things look more important and in fact the development of the Church in America/missions should be the top priority. I think what Fr. Tosi said, "The Planting Granst [sic] is totally divorced from the OCA budget" - this is the real problem. Why is it "divorced" from the "real" OCA budget? I have a guess on this, but I won't say.
#5.3 Pachomius on 2008-01-09 08:09
An accurate assessment, but somewhat valueless unless we can spring forth from it.
Yesterday is gone, and all we have are the lessons. If we don't take them into tomorrow, they are too lost.
There is much room for improvement in the OCA administration, there is little doubt, but many of the people there need our support, our ideas for a better tomorrow.
#6 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-07 21:34
Well said Father. We must ask God for forgiveness for our haughtiness. The world should not be impressed by a Church that mouths "right theology" but behaves so badly. As you pointed out, twenty years of opportunity have been squandered by selfish, greedy men and women, who are more concerned with going through the motions than living for Christ. The hard question that must be asked is, how this circumstance was allowed to happen. I for one tried to help, but so few seemed to be listening at the time. The question is, are enough listening now to right this ship? Time will tell.
#7 Anon. on 2008-01-07 21:41
Good Lord Folks, when are you all going to finally get it that it was never the role nor going forward will it be the role of the central administration of the OCA to fund missions, or seminaries or even charities. That is the role of the local diocese and parishes, especially when it comes to charity. At best Syosset can "throw a tip" toward those things.
The wrong-headed idea that a strong central church will help the Church to grow is not a model that has worked for us. Syosset at best can set a general direction, be a focus of unity and tend to those things it is responsible for to lead, external affairs, calling All American Councils, Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council meetings. Outside of that, the rest is called to be done by dioceses.
If we have weak dioceses, it is not the job of Syosset to fill the vacuum. It is the call of the people and parishes of a respective diocese to do what is necessary to grow the Church.
I don't look to Syosset to lead my parish or diocese. I look to my priest and bishop, my fellow parishioners, to Christ Himself, not to Metropolitan Herman or any Metropolitan. He is the bishop of his diocese and the first bishop of the Holy Synod. He is not the Pope and Syosset is not the Vatican.
My parish is growing, my diocese is growing and it is because we are focused on Christ and the hard work of BEING Orthodox Christians and sharing His message with others.
Whether Syosset gets "fixed" or not, means very little to me. My only contact with them is through my bishop who is a member of the Holy Synod and the $105 in assessment money I offer. That's it! What they do with that money, once given, is up to them. If they squander it, they will answer for it, if they use it for the glory of God, let Him be praised. However the Lord will be the judge, one way or another.
If we are waiting for Syosset to have an inspiring leader that makes us feel good about ourselves, well maybe that is why we are in such a mess, lo, these many years. Let us be inspired leaders in our parish and dioceses, from which the leaders that someday will be our bishops can catch the vision.
I love the OCA. I grew up in it all my life, from Metropolia days until today. I have a perspective on it that includes working on the parish, diocesan and central church levels. Church life flows from the parish up, not from the central church down. If we are strong locally, we will be a stronger Church nationally.
Square One has always been the parish not Syosset.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-01-08 09:16
You must not be from Alaska; we are overseen by Saruman and his Orcs, empowered by the all seeing eye in Mordor (Syosset)...
#8.1 Moses on 2008-01-08 10:44
The author of this reflection is most articulate, effective and forthright. We note a couple of comments quibbling with details of his analysis, as if to detract from the overall thrust of the indictment. A bit like a man we once tried to minister to out here who had spent 5 years in Sing-Sing for manslaughter in a NYC gang brawl, and was very particular to point out "I didn't kill that guy. Somebody else did. I just shot his _ off." Quite.
#9 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-01-08 09:21
Comment #8 is correct. If St. Tikhon's wants more "cradle Orthodox--remember, converts have children who are cradle orthodox"--the OCA has to improve it's attitude, behavior, and compensation for its parish clergy. The whole central adminstration and local diocesan administration needs to be looked at, & evaluated. The local parish is on the front lines and is where local community knows or doesn't know the local Orthodox Church. We Orthodox in the United States have a long way to go for the general American public to know who we are. The Orthodox Christian in the US is generally unknown. Do we do local charity together (where possible -- where there are more than one jurisdiction)? This scandal can be a blessing, if the bishops handle it right--cleaning up the mess in whatever jurisdiction you are in. So many issues, one calendar, joint charity and good works. Its too bad, most of our hierarchs are not cradle born Orthodox but converts in adulthood and they don't seem to be getting it right. So I don't buy this nonsense that converts are second-class citizens-- they are our clergy and our bishops.
#10 cshinn on 2008-01-08 10:06
Only in Orthodoxy does being a "convert" have any weight at all. What Methodist talks about being a convert 7 (or 700) months later? Is "cradle" vs "convert" really where this discussion needs to be?
#10.1 BB on 2008-01-08 12:20
Thanks for the thoughtful comments and advice in response to the Reflection: “Back to square one.” I’d like to respond to a few of them.
To #5 Anon. on 2008-01-07
You say that the OCA is beginning to heal. OK. Here is my view of the OCA and its healing: a man is stabbed with several knives, in the back and in the heart; a committee of medics examines the wounds; a band-aid is applied to stop the bleeding; x-rays showing possibly fatal internal bleeding and trauma are buried; calls for second opinions are dismissed; the medics repeatedly twist the knives; one knife is removed but the others remain in the patient; and, the patient is told that he’s healed and ready to get back to work. Yes, the OCA is “healing.”
You advise me to pray and check facts before I write. I have been praying and mulling the facts for many, many years. Both prayer and fact checking have led me to finally enter this fray and write what I did.
You say it is wrong to blame the chancery staff for budgets. But I didn’t. I attributed these decisions to “leaders” and “leadership.” It was to the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council that I was referring.
You claim that Mission Funds are limited to what is collected in the Mission Appeal and that this has nothing to do with assessments. Consider this: because the last Mission Appeal brought in far too little, under extraordinary circumstances, wouldn’t a truly mission-minded Church have supplemented the Appeal from the General Fund to keep its missions going? Yes! But not the OCA. We hired our Syosset management team before there was a full-blown, Church-wide discussion of what was needed at Syosset, before we knew whether we needed it or could afford it. These honorable and talented men arrived too early—not their fault. These new management expenses sapped the General Fund of monies that could have gone to Missions with supervision already in place. Men of good will could have a vigorous discussion of whether or not this was a mistake. I think it was. And beyond that, I think it was done to create the false impression that with our new staff and organizational chart, we could move on to a bright future before we fully learned the lessons of the past.
You remind me that the OCA had been ripped off “to the tune of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Here the error is yours for leaving off a few zeroes. And you attribute this entire “mess” to the former Chancellor. But in speaking the company line, you err again, failing to include more than a few others who knew perfectly well what was happening and could have prevented it.
To #2 Fr. Eric G Tosi on 2008-01-07.
I apologize to Father Eric Tosi for singling him out for using the term “financial constraints” and for implying that he alone was blaming the constraints on the withholding of funds by the Diocese of the Midwest. Forgive me, Father!
Actually, the connection between Midwest withholding and financial constraints on important programs was an OCA talking point prior to Fr. Tosi’s use of the term. To many, this seemed like a form of intimidation—laying the problems of the Church at the feet of Archbishop JOB in order to leverage the resumption of payments. Curiously, “financial constraints” were never blamed on any other category of income or expense.
Nothing that I have written overlooks the dedicated hard work and selflessness of a great many OCA lay and clergy. My hope is to encourage discussion of why, after all of that, we repeatedly find ourselves returning to square one.
A priest of the OCA
#11 A priest of the OCA on 2008-01-09 11:41
>>Curiously, “financial constraints” were never blamed on any other category of income or expense
#11.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-10 07:55
hm...second part of that response was lost in cyber space again....
my simple reading some months ago of the announcement of the reduced number of mission grants "due to financial restraints" was also that this was because of the Midwest's withholding. If they had announced that it was due to poor response to the mission appeal, I don't know, maybe that would be too close to acknowledging a serious trust and credibility problem?
#11.1.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-10 17:19
Dear "Priest of the OCA"--
Many thanks not only for your reflection but for your additional comments in reply to others' remarks. I found your description of the "healing" of the OCA so VERY refreshing. How we can possibly talk about the OCA healing in the context of our current circumstances is just beyond me. It is more of the same delusional thinking and spinning that has gotten us where we are today. ENOUGH! Let's stop wasting our time, talents, and resources on such delusion, call a spade a spade, remove the Met. and his hangers-on (whether paid or volunteers) and begin to heal in earnest.
The upcoming AAC will only be productive if we have months to prepare for it WITH THE SURE KNOWLEDGE THAT OUR MET. IS GOING TO RESIGN, THE TRUTH IS GOING TO BE TOLD, AND WE ARE GOING TO MAKE A REAL EFFORT TO CLEAN HOUSE AND BEGIN AGAIN.
#12 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-01-09 15:56
Dear Priest of the OCA:
There is nothing to apologize about. I am glad that I was able to clear any misunderstanding. I again offer to explain the Mission Grant program and funding to anyone who asks. It is a great program unlike anything else in any jursidiction in North America and we have incredible priests, their families, and missions doing wonderful work. Forgive me if I offended.
Yours in Christ:
Fr. Eric G. Tosi
Department of Evangelization
forgive me for repeating my question so soon, but I am afraid it will get lost as we move to another thread. Could you please tell us how the $87,560 for missions from the Honesdale loan has been distributed, and when?
#13.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-10 07:45
Dear Fr Tosi: I forget what year it was (maybe 2004), but the OCA spent $400,000+ on external affairs and $14,000 on evangelization. The sorry fact is that the former administrative committee set the budget priorities and the Met. Council rubber stamped approval of them. While agreeing with the commentor that missions should begin with the parish and diocese, it is these kind of attitudes (among other problems) in Syosset that landed us in the mess that we now find ourselves.
#13.2 Michael Strelka on 2008-01-10 09:41
Dear Rachel and Michael:
Thank you for your questions. As far as I understand it, the Holmsdale loan went to pay back bills on the Mission Program. In other words, the program was kept going to the five missions over the past few years by basically IOUs. Not a single mission on the Grant missed their check. The Holmsdale loan paid off those back bills. Fr. Michael Tassos can answer the exact methodology in accountant terms. When it did come to light, it was insisted that these bills be paid off and that the Fund be reestablished on the correct and proper terms of a restricted account. This is what is now in place. Mission Appeal funds are used only and exclusively for the Mission Grant.
As far as your question Michael, there is a bit of inaccuracy in that. The "$14,000" was a budgeted item in the OCA budget. In other words this paid for the Department's meetings, expenses, stipends, material etc. The Mission Plant Porgram was not on the budget since it was to be taken directly from the Mission Appeal. So say if we take an average of $75,000 a year for that and the $14,000 on the budget. Actually that number was closer to $30,000 though not always spent. So if we want to use a more accurate number than a total amount of say $89,000 and higher was spent on Evangelism. Which is still a low number but remember that a vast majority of that amount was put directly into the hands of missions.
I hope that this answer those questions. The new budget can be refered to for exact amount for the Department which is available on the OCA website. And again if there are specifics on the Loan, Fr. Michael Tassos can more than adequately answer them. I have posed these exact questions to him and was satsified with his answer on the specifics.
Fr. Eric G. Tosi
Department of Evangelization
Dear Fr Eric,
thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question. I am a little bit confused about the answer though. Who was getting the IOU- the missions? Or, -who? Money was borrowed from the Missions funds to pay something else, and money was borrowed from another something else to pay the individual missions? I am sorry to be thick but I just don't get it. If Fr Michael is reading I'd welcome his explanation, but if you yourself could clarify this I would appreciate it.
I also do appreciate your saying that there is no longer any mingling of funds, going forward. I hope you can understand that it will take some time for people to be able to trust that that is true. Holy Apostle Thomas pray for us!
#14.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-10 18:39
This is very true. The priorities are all messed up at Syosset.
It begins with Syosset itself...a huge mansion in one of the most expensive places in America, requiring not only expensive upkeep (the gardens, the marble, the hardwood floors) but also expensive cost-of-living salaries (even a 60k salary doesn't go far, not unless you're commuting over 2 hrs everyday from NJ). Not to mention the furnishings...italian leather sofas, hardwood desks, crystal chandeliers.
Meanwhile, the priests are being paid in groceries and can't afford to heat their homes. Seminarians are borrowing massive amounts of money from Sallie Mae because the OCA can't even pay their tuition. And then when the seminarians graduate they have no way to pay back these loans because A) there are no open positions because no new churches are being planted and/or B) there is work in a parish that really needs them - but there is no money to pay them. I know a recent seminary graduate who is a priest, working in a mission parish without pay, and in order to feed his family he needs to leave them for 2 wks at a time to work a construction job in another state. This is not good for the family or the parish, but what else is there to do?
Meanwhile, the OCA blows through money like they are the Russia Mafia. Just reading the numbers of how much money has been wasted in this scandal makes me want to cry. A tiny tiny tiny fraction of that "missing" money, the money spent on lawyers, the money spent on the loan, etc. would pay dozen of mission priests salaries and dozens of seminarians tuition. Just think about how much stronger our churches would be if instead of spending money on frivilous things (like presents, a new leather couch, pesonal credit cards, "gifts", etc,) the money was used to make sure our seminarians and priests have a financially secure future?
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