Tuesday, September 29. 2009
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With regard to the restructuring of the pension plan, does it mean that there will be a shift to a "cash balance" type of structure?
(editor's note: I would address all such questions to Maureen Ahearn, the pension administrator, who is much more qualified to answer such questions in context. You can reach her at email@example.com. )
#1 Edmund Unneland on 2009-09-29 17:10
I still find it amazing how the NY/NJ clerics held this sham election of Dahulich. He was the only viable candidate put forth! Brum of course would be rejected and Mahaffey was a total unknown. The election wasn't an election, but an appointment!
So, what's wrong with this? Nothing if he is as good as some claim. Let's see what GOOD has come from St. Tikhons' management structure. RSK - should be in jail; + Herman - should be in jail; etc. Now, after the wonderful management types coming from STOTS, let's select another one - what's wrong with this picture?
#2 Anonymous on 2009-09-30 06:06
FTA: "The irony of that moment, that is, the Chancellor of the OCA asking the editor of OCANEWS.org to take the Minutes of a joint session of the Synod of the OCA and its Metropolitan Council, was not lost on anyone in that room."
I'm glad that Father Garklavs asked you to take the minutes and that you chose to note that fact. It was a very strong message to all kinds of audiences: your readers, supporters and detractors alike, and to a certain metropolitan who has been (metaphorically) agitating for your head. Unlike Herod Antipas, the OCA leadership refused to do so. Axios!
PS: If I may be a little wicked, who is playing Salome to the Metropolitan's Herod Antipas? The easy answer would be the priest with the same last name but that is too easy.
#3 Carl Kraeff on 2009-09-30 06:18
I read nothing in either the Pension Plan explanation, the OCA press release or here as to how much money the Pension Plan lost during the economic downturn nor to what degree this was the reason for the changing of the Plan either short-term or long-term?
Also, what is the plan to pay for going to trial v. Kondratick? More cuts to an already gutted budget? A special appeal to the OCA taxpayers? What happens if assessment monies drop come January, which they surely will?
And how does the MC reconcile that the Holy Synod has reaffirmed the canon that a bishop must live in his diocese and the reported decision that no funds will be spent to move the Metropolitan to his new diocese? Is that up to the Washington Diocese to pay as their diocesan bishop and nothing from the MC? It appears that the MC is against the Metropolitan moving to DC? Why?
(Edior's note: Great questions. The answer to the first is best answered by the pension board itself. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The problem, as I understand it is not now, but what happens in 10 years if nothing is changed. This was done out of caution and prudence.
Second question: The OCA budget includes monies for legal fees of all kinds this coming year. We have enough money to see this through.
Third question: These are questions for the strategic planning process, which is underway. Let's see what the church says this coming year before we start planning out people's lives. We are setting forth a plan for the next 25 years. Taking a year or two to do so is only prudent. ( I guess this is my word for the day...)
#4 Curious on 2009-09-30 06:33
I guess I wasn't clear enough. What loss number did the Pension Plan report to the MC at the meeting? How many millions did the Plan lose?
How much money does the budget have for legal expenses?
I am sorry but the canons state clearly that the bishop must live in his diocese. We went through this with Herman. What does a strategic plan have to do with this? By the way, any strategic plan being worked on should have as its primary goal, to support the life of the parish and diocese. The central church should be about adding value to each, and not about centralizing power in New York.
(editor's note: The plan experienced the same loses everbody did in the market over the past two years. I cannot answer the specific number, as I do not have the figures handy and do not want to misquote the figure. I suggest you contact the plan's administrators at the email given for details.
The budget for 2009 lists $150,000. It will be higher by the end of the year, that is for sure. What it will be depends a great deal on the next three months. The proposed figure for 2010 will reflect this higher number for 2009, but it is still under active consideration.
As for your final two assertions, the first implies a goal we all agree on. The second presupposes a goal we do not all share. That is the purpose of the Strategic Plan, to agree on common goals and how to achieve them. You clearly have an agenda, which is fine, but do not confuse your agenda with the process. )
#5 Anonymous on 2009-09-30 09:49
ďI still find it amazing how the NY/NJ clerics held this sham election of Dahulich.Ē
FYI: No such election took place. The Holy Synod elected Dahulich, probably based on his qualifications and largely assured that an earlier Diocesan Assembly, composed of 49 clergy delegates and 49 lay delegates expressed its preference for Dahulich 55 to 33.
You seem to be confusing the mess at St. Tikhon Monastery with the St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary. In this case are you suggesting nothing good can come out of STOTS because of two bad apples from its past? No matter how well Bishop-elect Michael Dahulich has acquitted himself over the years, should we just jettison his accomplishments because heís tainted by having been associated with STOTS? No specifics, just guilt by association.
So whatís wrong with your picture? Nothing if you want to add jumping to conclusions as an Olympic sport. You would surely win the gold medal!
#6 Terry C. Peet on 2009-09-30 10:39
Can anyone please tell me what is going on in the OCA?
Everything of importance seems to fall in one of these categories: privileged information which cannot be discussed in a public forum; tabled for future discussion; incomplete information; no action.
Folks, it's time to get your heads out of the sand and realize there's a level of intelligence out here not buying your smoke screen. Woe to those who continue to support these antics.
#7 ANON on 2009-09-30 14:43
What an optimistic report! (Or is it an editorial?) I am much more ambivalent about the meeting's achievements, as from the outside, I see only three substantive changes:
1. A new treasurer was hired (more of a relief than a major achievement)
2. Overdue changes were made to an abused pension plan (again pretty much a no-brainer, and I assume the only reason it didn't happen sooner was that it was a complex change to implement)
3. The Holy Synod decided, disappointingly, to steamroll the controversy in NY&NJ by electing Archpriest Dahulich.
If anything else was actually decided, that isn't reflected in the official documentation. Aside from the three items above, it seems like there was very little achieved, aside from more discussion of the strategic plan planning process. (I am glad to see the conversation is being sent to the diocesan level - although, given the poor discretion demonstrated by the NY&NJ and DC recently, I don't have high hopes for the quality of that input.)
It is disappointing that although the group had an extended conversation about Herman & Kondratick's criminal meddling in NY&NJ affairs, the Synod isn't bringing Herman to a Spiritual Court based on his documented wrongdoings. Without this, Kondratick actually will be Herman's scapegoat, as his boosters have claimed.
But more than anything at the meeting, I am concerned by the character of your article/report/editorial, as it illustrates the continuing conflation of your roles as (on one hand) watchdog and (on the other) trustee. It's impossible to be an effective watchdog (or an objective reporter) if you are part of the story. At the same time, I don't think 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes' is quite appropriate, either.
I don't see the anecdote as proving things have changed. A large part of the OCA continues to see this site as destructive and illegitimate - please refer to Lickwar's "idle gossip" in the "Internet winds." Your selection as note-taker will surely have no effect on them. Moreover, it further underscores that our lone watchdog is now part of the establishment. The hard questions will continue to soften, and the future, we will be told, will look ever rosier.
(editor's note: Concerning your last two points. The STIC investigation is underway - any discussion of spiritual court in this matter is premature. It took almost 18 months for the SIC ( 1 & 2) to complete their work. the STIC will be quicker, but give it a couple of months, at least, please.
And for the last point. There seems to be widespread confusion that I am the only "watchdog" ( why is everyone calling me a dog these days?) in the OCA. That was never the case, and is even less the case these days. I am perhaps the best known, because I have a website. The entire MC has once again embraced its fiduciary duties and is exercizing them. I am simply one member - and hardly the most vocal - among it. This is a good thing. Are there those who oppose transparency, accountability and openess? You betcha. At every turn, and in every situation. Are they themselves opposed? You betcha. We are in a battle here we dare not lose, for the consequences will be to return us from whence we came. The only ones who will profit from that are the abusers ( financial, sexual, administrative, etc.) and and their enabling friends.) I am sorry that it does not seem much was done to you - but just to get the Strategic Planning process going, to openly discuss with the MC and Synod, to get it out to the dioceses for their input, is a marked achievement in an environment where diktats have been the order of business.)
#8 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-09-30 15:04
Everything that you object to is normal. Going into executive session for good reason is appropriate and desirable. Tabling issues as necessary is also the proper thing to do, especially when you don't have sufficient information or if there are other, more urgent issues. Mark has never shied from telling us when any of these actions are fishy. There is no reason that he has not, or will not, continue to do so. Sometimes the glass is half full.
#9 Carl on 2009-09-30 15:11
I saw on another site that many expensive vestments were ordered from Russia for Metr. Jonah.
How can the vestments of former Metr. Herman be made to fit the current Metr. Jonah?
Don't go to Russia, just buy more fringe!
#10 anonymous on 2009-09-30 20:27
Not much info. about the new OCA Treasurer. Her education, previous employment, religious affiliation, etc. I do not mean to imply anything negative, because I don't know anything about her. I'm not asking for a reply to this post, but it should be publicised, particularly on "oca.org."
#11 Bruce Wm. Trakas on 2009-10-01 01:46
As a part of the planning process, it would be my hope the church determine what matters that go before an ethics committee would be allowed public disclosure and how to disclose and to what degree.
So, now a few of you think I'm an idiot and lawyers determine all this, but it doesn't need to be that way.
For a church with years of serious ethical breaches and under the rug sweeps (that'd be putting it lightly I'd say), planning what to disclose and when is important.
For a start, there may be situations where an affected party wishes full disclosure to the church, and the other party does not. i.e. RSK v. Dn Wheeler. Had Dn. Wheeler been afforded the tiniest public disclosure years ago, it may have saved the church millions. I'm sure RSK and Herman would have resisted attempts at pubic disclosure then, but what would be wrong with allowing the following disclosure, for example.
Matters before Ethics Committee (approved by bringer)
1. Wheeler termination.
and so on..
The effort should be in the church, and away from hiding the dirt under a rug of 'privacy', or convenient legal tactics by one of the affected parties.
'Churchspeak' doesn't need to be handy lies and we don't need to behave as a deceitful corporation.
And disclosure sometimes can be the title of the problem and nothing more.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-01 05:22
The fact remains, Dahulich was "appointed" and not elected. How he'll perform as a hierarch remains to be seen. Don't you think it a bit strange that all the years of + Herman's abuses at St. Tikhon's, Dahulich turned a blind eye? He didn't know you say; that's even worse. "Obey your bishop!" Blind obedience is what has given us the the "Fall of the OCA" and eruptions within ALL the Orthodox jurisdictions in America. Transparency and openness is the only cure; light cleanses all.
We'll see about Dahulich, but he comes from the same environment as RSK & + Herman not to mention parochial, Uniate/Orthodoxy!
#13 Anonymous on 2009-10-01 05:44
Based on what has been made public, this is an excellent choice. Here are the things that are known
"A Certified Public Accountant, Melanie Ringa has an extensive background in accounting and finance. She is currently Associate Chancellor for Finance at Saint Vladimir's Seminary, Crestwood, NY." (http://www.oca.org/news/193 via Mark's article)
Ms. Ringa can "use the Blackbaudís Financial Edge and Raisers Edge accounting and development accounting software." (From Mark's article)
Ms. Ringa "received the endorsement of Fr. Michael Tassos, the former Treasurer, and the search committee, as well as support from all familiar with her work as the current Assistant Chancellor for Finances at St. Vladimirís Seminary." (From Mark's article)
St. Vladimir's financial administration has been above board. (Cannot cite a particular source but I do remember this point made).
#14 Carl on 2009-10-01 08:20
Fr. Michael may not be the real issue here. He is known to many as a person with many fine attributes. I think the real problem is the lack of trust, which permeates every aspect of the OCA. It is misleading to point to "two bad apples," implying that they existed in isolation. In fact, the "bad apples" chose, attracted,influenced, taught, trained, and intimidated all those around them. Since the OCa's leadership has chosen to simply declare "it is over," while choosing for leadership roles persons who are closely associated with the regime of the "bad apples," skepticism runs rampant, and trust is not restored. It seems to me that either the OCA leadership will take the bull by the horns and do what is needed to restore trust, or it will continue to be regarded with skepticism and maybe even with antagonism, at every decision it makes. cate
#15 cate on 2009-10-01 08:53
I've been trying to find out for some time what happened to Archimandrite Nicholas, of Holy Cross Monastery in Niagara, NY. He was suspended exactly a year ago, and I don't know why, or if he's been reinstated. I'm not able to get any updates from a current official Web site. Can anyone point me to more information?
(editor's note: The Archimandrite left the OCA, together with his "monastery" some time ago. I do not remember what jurisdiction entered....)
#16 Morton on 2009-10-01 08:57
I can tell you a lot about our new Treasurer, since, for many years, I was not only in the same parish as her, but she was also one of the singers and readers in the choir that I directed in that parish!
Melanie Ringa is a wonderful person, a "cradle" Orthodox from Jermyn, PA, who has been married to Chuck Ringa for the past seven years. They have adopted two boys from other parts of their family who were in a difficult situation, and have given them love, structure, and a wonderful home for a few years now (the boys have since become Orthodox). Melanie worked in the corporate world for many years. Then, after she left her last secular job, she was hired as the Financial Officer at St Vladimir's Seminary, under the auspices of Fr Chad Hatfield. She is loved, admired, and respected throughout the Church, and deservedly so! She is open, honest, warm, friendly, concerned, loving, and gives totally of herself! When I saw, last week, that she was named as the new Treasurer of the OCA, my hopes for the financial future of our Church increased a thousand fold. May God bless her with many years of faithful, loving service to the seminary and the OCA!
#17 David Barrett on 2009-10-01 09:57
As to whether the vestments were expensive or not, I can't speak. But just because they were ordered from Russia doesn't imply anything. Indeed, as a relatively recently ordained and none-too-wealthy priest who needs vestments (it's a fact of life, and a small mission can't necessarily afford them), I have found no better source than Russia. They know what they're doing over there, and they do it at a very reasonable price, a good deal lower than any vestment maker I've found in America.
I like your suggestion about the fringe. But I guess the danger there is that the OCA might be perceived as a sort of fringe-movement.
#18 Anonymous on 2009-10-01 10:19
I believe election is the proper word. ďTo appointĒ signifies that one person in authority has named another person to fulfill a position. This did not happen. ďTo electĒ refers to a body or group of people -- in this case a synod of bishops --, who select by voting to fulfill a position. Though not stated in public announcements, I understand Bishop-elect Michaelís election was unanimous, rarely done by the synod.
As to turning a blind eye, Fr. Michael could only have turned a blind eye if he knew something was amiss, and he could only have taken corrective action if the wrongdoing was in his bailiwick. It appears that +Hermanís wrongdoing was outside of Fr. Michaelís authority or even his knowledge. I donít believe there is enough information to make a call on this. It is even conceivable, given Fr. Michaelís integrity, that he did raise such issues with his superiors if he knew. Speculating muddies the water and does disservice to those involved. But since we donít know, we must perforce suspend judgment.
I do agree with you that blind obedience has led us down a perilous path in the OCA. But putting blind obedience and Fr. Michael Dahulich in the same sentence is a virtual oxymoron. We need a bishop, while respectful of canons and protocol, who nevertheless is able, when necessary, to bend the rules, i.e. exercise oeconomia, to accomplish a greater good, the fulfillment of the Gospel of our Lord.
I know the people in my parish are solidly behind Fr. Michael; before attending the special diocesan assembly as delegate on August 31, I inrformally polled about 45 parishioners in the preceding week, and everyone chose Dahulich over the other candidates, but not merely choosing him, they offered the most complimentary comments about him. He is well respected in our parish. As you say, only time will tell, but Iím betting Bishop-elect Michael is the right man for our diocese at this time.
#19 Terry C. Peet on 2009-10-01 10:52
Many centuries ago, when I still wore suits and could still see my toes, I was given a handsome suit that needed to be tailored down to fit my then-minuscule self. The tailor's bill nearly gave me cardiac arrest.
What you are talking about is, first of all, based on the assumption that the vestments in question are the property of the OCA rather than Metropolitan Herman; and I'm not sure that's the case. Secondly, you're talking about matching and then adding significant amounts of material, so that munchkin vestments would fit the Friendly Giant. Ain't gonna happen. It'd like me trying to fit into the jeans I wore 40 years ago, when waist-size and age were the same numbers. (Come to think of it they still are...alas.)
#20 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-10-01 10:52
That is a good point about the STIC; one I hadn't thought of. I hope the Synod does what is right, not what is convenient/quiet, when the time comes. Thanks for the clarification.
I appreciate your comments about change and the difficulties of coming by it. I agree, there have been dramatic improvements in the way our Church runs (at least as far as I can see) and I am glad that this meeting yielded even 1 accomplishment. However, I worry that with such marked improvement, all involved will become complacent. We have seen improvement, but I think it is important to remember that we still have a long way to go.
This is only tangentially related to the MC, but a good example is the OCA website. I share Bruce Trakas' frustration with the chronically slow rate of news/info posted there. Moreover, I find it inexplicable that OCANews consistently outclasses OCA.org in providing a forum for enlightening and informative discourse, whether through reporting, or through the comments section. Why is that? Certainly not resources - OCANews.org is run part time, by one man, as a labor of love. Archpriest Jarmus should be making the OCA website the go-to place for OCA news and discussion. Instead, it is a wasted opportunity.
I think it is essential for the MC to order up a new website, and to find some new personnel to run it. It is a crucial component for the health of our 'organization,' and for the success of our mission: to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
As far as everyone calling you a dog: if it's any consolation to you, I call you watch"dog" as only the highest of compliments.
#21 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-10-01 10:58
I think it is clear to all that "St. Tikhon's" is a singular cultural institution. Whether or not there are separate legal entities on the campus, it is foolish to pretend that they are somehow hermetically sealed off from each other. In fact, Seminary boosters often point to the interdialogue between seminarians and monastics as one of the benefits of attending STS.
People see, speak, walk, and eat with one another. The stories and the politics are enjoined. This is to be expected when Metropolitan Herman (who was head of the monastery, seminary, and bookstore) ran the campus as his own little fiefdom.
It is troubling that our new bishop either (1) was not sufficiently repulsed by the scandal in his midst to provoke him towards whistle-blowing or departure, or (2) had no clue what was going on. I look forward to hearing his perspective on this issue.
#22 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-10-01 11:16
Yes, Ms. Ringa is an excellent choice. Well-qualified and works well into the new, revised and ever-fluid way in which the MC changes its mind from meeting to meeting as to how best to staff Syosset.
As the money dries up for full-time Church Officers, the only full-time paid OCA Officers are now the chancellor and the Secretary. No longer the Metropolitan, no longer the Office of Communications, no longer the Treasurer. They probably didn't need to be full time anyway. Lots of money spent by the transition team down the drain. But, it is good that when the model is broken that they throw it out and keep trying.
But, she is outstanding. Doing a great job at SVS and she will now use that talent for the OCA. Good luck in a job that historically has very poor job security but I think you can be the exception.
#23 Anonymous on 2009-10-01 16:07
Thank you David, for the info. It appears the OCA will be well served by the selection of Mrs. Ringa.
#24 Bruce Wm. Trakas on 2009-10-01 21:11
Iuhos went to the HOCNA (Holy Orthodox Church in North America) which is not in communion with the OCA, or other canonical jurisdictions here in America.
He posted an article on his website describing his reasoning for the jurisdiction swap, which you can read here: http://www.holycross-niagarafalls.org/Article1.aspx
#25 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-10-02 01:17
how many qualified candidates are out there?? there are a total of around 400 clerics, how many of them are non-married with college education and with no problems with law in the past?? There are no people to select bishops from! Until it would be possible for bishops to be married the bishops will be appointed!
#26 Anonymous on 2009-10-02 08:02
He joined The Holy Orthodox Church in North America - HOCNA - aka Panteleimonites. You can read Fr Nicholas's account of the reception of his monastery / parish in Issue 32, 2009 of The Faithful Steward (the HOCNA house magazine) - including the chrismation of his parishioners and his reception by 'cheirothesia' ....
#27 Anonymous on 2009-10-02 09:52
The monastery is now part of HOCNA. Their website is http://www.holycross-niagarafalls.org/
#28 Anonymous on 2009-10-02 12:00
I believe he is now under the HOCNA jurisdiction associated with Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA. See the following article for details:
Where is the money needed to help victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse? By denying this cause as the so called strategic plan is being developed, you continue to harm and hurt those who have already been victimized!
Where are the monies to help pay to restore those who have been hurt?
This money needs to be there and to be transparant.
#30 Matushka Carol on 2009-10-03 10:00
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