Monday, November 9. 2009
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You wrote concerning the Koumentakos case, "Although this case was dismissed, a second lawsuit (concerning employment discrimination, of which Fr. Velencia was also a part) continues amid rumors of an impending settlement."
In fact, Kristine Koumentakos only filed one lawsuit. However, that suit contained 22 separate counts. 20 of those counts were church related, while 2 were employment related.
In April, the Howard County circuit court judge dismissed the 20 church counts, not on the merits of the case, but on his interpretation of the first amendment. The judge allowed the the 2 employment counts to go forward.
In addition to rumors that there is a pending settlement on the employment counts, there are also rumors that Mrs. Koumentakos will appeal the April decision dismissing the church counts.
If a priest is involved in a lawsuit, whether right or wrong, would you not want to avoid him being on the Metropolitan Council, for the sake of attending to those court responsibilities?
I can't see where his parishioners would even think about being upset at his removal. In this time of court investigation, is it not a moral necessity to remove any person from such a position of responsibility (particularly if you know the history of the lawsuit)?
#2 Patty Schellbach on 2009-11-09 19:30
Dear Orthodox Faithful,
Christ is in our midst. He is and ever shall be.
Speaking of all the stuff going on, especially in the financial dept., Sunday, November 22 is IOCC Sunday, a DAY OF SHARING!! This means that our parishes will be asked to pass a second tray on that day to help IOCC, which we all know, is a very worthy, pan-Orthodox organization helping people all over the world in times of trauma and disaster.
I love sharing my money with IOCC and other worthy organizations. I just don't want to share it with my own parish, whom I don't trust to send every penny in, or with the Archdiocese, whom I don't trust either. In recent fundraisers, IOCC funds went directly to them, by-passing other hands of temptation. I'm not sure if this second tray money will do the same, or if it will be sent to Englewood first, and then who knows how much of that money will actually make it to IOCC.
I recommend to everyone to spread the word, so as to be absolutely certain that every penny goes directly to IOCC, pass up the tray, and send in your own donation to IOCC, with a note letting them know this is for IOCC Sunday, and you just wanted to be sure that your full donation was received by them. They will understand. If we can't trust our parishes and our Archdiocese, then we have other ways to make our donations with all the good intentions that accompany our checks.
Thank you, and God Bless You.
A lot more positives out of this meeting than I first thought. Good to see draft minutes posted for all to read.
It was good to read of a forthcoming redevelopment of the OCA website in the reports. It says that the current Forums are 'not used frequently,' but can anyone even find them? I hope they look to take full advantage of the interactive features possible in Web 2.0 - commenting on and sharing news stories, etc.
I was also glad to see some legitimate work being done towards the relocation of the OCA headquarters out of Syosset. This is an achievement.
It was also good to read that Metropolitan Jonah has taken decisive action regarding Archpriest Valencia's seat on the MC. It is refreshing to see this sort of corrective action.
I don't understand why a meeting of the Lesser Synod wasn't mentioned on the OCA website, especially regarding such a tumultuous topic as 'episcopal selection.' Reading in the minutes of the MC's sponsorship of Archimandrite Gerasim "with the understanding" that is is for his "episcopal candidacy" seems regressive, and I hope that this Synod might bring us closer to a process which, in its letter and character, is everything the NY&NJ election wasn't.
#4 Nilus on 2009-11-10 05:15
Did you know that the CEO of IOCC makes $155,000 a year and $18,000 in other compensation?
#5 Anonymous on 2009-11-10 06:35
I, too, feel that it would be a pity to have IOCC deprived of our support because there are questions about parish-level or wider ecclesiastical organizations. So far as we now know, it is one of the Orthodox institutions that is free of scandal, and which accomplishes a great deal of good in the world.
#6 Alexander Patico on 2009-11-10 07:02
Mark--Please accept my heartfelt congratulations on your reporting to date and the quality of work of the current OCA leadership: the Metropolitan, his fellow bishops, the central administration, the Metropolitan Council and the various committees. It seems to me that OCA is finally acting as a mature and capable autocephalous church. God willing, the Antiochian Archdiocese will follow suit. Bravos to all concerned, to include the many brave souls on this site who have waged the good fight.
#7 Carl on 2009-11-10 09:43
That's on the extreme low end of CEO compensation if you compare other charities at CharityNavigator.org.
#8 Stephen Schumacher on 2009-11-10 13:16
maybe he should be paid the same disgusting poverty wages our priests have had to live with.
shame on you.
155+ ?? Double it! You get what you pay for chum!
#9 no name on 2009-11-10 14:25
Please accept my heartfelt “THANK YOU” on your daily report on the life of the American and World wide Orthodoxy.
Also, please post this material as it is sent to your attention in its entirety.
Finally, please let me know HOW we can post more materials on your site as requested by myself? Please reply.
Everyone likes your site, as well as pokrov.org too.
This is a reply to Carl.
As for you Carl,
I would like to point out that such “LAUDATIONS” given to the OCA leadership regarding their “quality of work” is worthless. I would like to point out that “NOTHING” has been changed since November 13, 2008, in Syosset OCA Central Administration.
Everything is “business as usual.” Paraphrasing His Eminence Archbishop +Job words’ from a past posting on this side couple years back, “I do not want to put my head on the butcher chop” … by posting this open and transparent comment without fear. The August 29 feast is gone for more than two months, and the platter for … is not in use as of yet …
I myself feel very sorry to post this comment with a heavy heart and responsibility. I am not a “COWARD”. I am a 100% genuine Romanian blood Orthodox priest, ordained more than 32 years ago, possessing “AN WORKING PRIESTHOOD” and … also “NOT BEING UNDER ANY CANONICAL SANCTION.”
However, since March 1, 2004, I was expelled from the ROEA by the ROEA Archbishop and accepted by the former OCA Metropolitan +Herman Swaiko as part of the OCA Stavropegial staff, UN – canonically attached to the St Sergius of Radonezh Chapel, Oyster Bay Cove, and NY.
The OCA hierarchy does not deserve and congratulations from Carl, maybe some members of the Metropolitan Council and the various committees do that. That is my personal feeling / opinion, based on my last six years ordeal within the OCA.
I feel very sorry to post this comment with a heavy heart feeling for the failure of the OCA hierarchy to take charge for the case of a Romanian Orthodox Priest >>> Rev Fr Vasile Susan
#10 Anonymous on 2009-11-10 16:33
I wouldn't go that far, and I'm no fan of (what seems to me uncharitable) $300,000 to $500,000 salaries paid to executives of many well-known charities. So for me it's a real positive indicator that IOCC and its CEO walk their talk by keeping executive compensation within reasonable bounds. Again, see CharityNavigator.org for further information.
#11 Stephen Schumacher on 2009-11-10 18:44
That's way too much salary for a charitable organization CEO. There are so many expenses involved in keeping IOCC running, and this is charity - that person does not need to live in luxury at the expense of others, especially while our clergy and other people around the world suffer. That needs to change - our greed is too obvious and ruining our love of God.
No one can live on those meager wages, especially in the higher priced states of our country. Look how little our retired clergy get after all the years of dedication to the church, and many of them are forced to continue working, despite advancing age and health issues. We have to do better by our clergy, and stop letting the fat cats take their fat skim off the top. This is such a sin.
Let's hope we can keep IOCC and other worthy charities scandal free, but we must work hard to protect them from the mess going on in the Orthodox World. Is nothing sacred any more? We must return our church to a state of purity and sanctity, otherwise we will have nothing left to leave to the future generations.
SEND THOSE CHECKS DIRECTLY TO IOCC AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.
Kudos to Metropolitan Jonah for removing Fr. V from the MC.
There is no reason to allow him on the Council no matter how many people voted for him. This is a time for a Bishop to behave as a Bishop. A time for a Bishop to review the case and the facts and determine whether or not the priest did something less than priestly. A time for due pastoral care.
And if there is a question of uncertainty around the priest's behavior (it seems fairly certain the priest erred badly), there is no reason to allow him to be a decisionmaker on the MC.
Sorry to my brothers and sisters at St. Matthews, you can withhold until forever or you can decide whether or not a new Bishop who is pretty much a disinterested new face has made a pastoral decision. It seems to me he has...
And for Ms. K, whom posts here often, I hope you consider this a gesture of pastoral care and consider the value of this action in your actions for relief.
As for me, when our leaders start making good decisions, I feel like I don't have to keep commenting. Thanks Metropolitan Jonah.
#15 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-10 19:14
Well, a Memphis Arch'd Trustee resigns over the "internal Audit" of the AOCNA, There are gut filled people out there? Also related that 10 trustees did'nt attend? And that Bob Laham, who once wavered over the audit - voted for an External Audit! Some HOPE ahead ?
#16 Anonymous on 2009-11-10 23:56
For the most part, you really do get what you pay for. I don't understand where we got the idea that people who do Church-related work should be paid below-market wages. "The laborer is worthy of his hire."
Pay market wages, and you will get the best available candidates for the job. Perhaps the best person is someone who would have taken a lower salary — but that is not something to count on, and certainly not something to demand.
#17 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-11-11 04:04
Perhaps you should do a little research about what other CEO's of similar size organizations make (not to mention how much work this person actually does; he might be working 60 hour weeks) before making such a comment. Further, IOCC has one of the lowest administrative cost ratios of any organization I have seen.
#18 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2009-11-11 11:28
Daniel E. Fall wrote, "Kudos to Metropolitan Jonah for removing Fr. V from the MC."
Considering that Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen is the Archbishop of Washington, I don't see how Fr. Raymond Velencia could have been seated on the Metropolitan Council without his blessing. I find it hard to believe that the metropolitan wasn't aware of the potential for controvery at the time that Velencia was elected.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I am grateful for MJ's decision to remove RV from the Metropolitan Council. I will try to forget that he was allowed on the MC in the first place.,,it was extremely disturbing to learn of that development.
I would hope that at some point soon, MJ will make a statement about RV's removal and the reasons for it. RV's own parish seems to be in the dark about the facts of this ongoing situation.
I continue to hope that there will be proper and complete corrective action within the church, regardless of the status of the legal issues, and I even dare to hope for true pastoral care for myself and my family...although I do not know anymore if there is anyone in the church I would trust to provide it.
Still, I remain grateful for this first, small step to correct the outrageous list of wrongs within the church regarding my case.
#20 KPK on 2009-11-11 13:30
I agree bout the decision on the part of JP, I just wish that he had done it sooner. Axios
#21 Yanni on 2009-11-11 19:02
The resignation of Matthew Spinola (I hope I spelled it right) from the BOT is bittersweet. He just came on board, and now he's leaving because of the audit issue. I know it's hard to stay on when things are happening the right way, and they are discouraging good people, good volunteers, from joining in and being a part of rebuilding our church. He's very faithful, from the parish in Memphis, where 2 families experienced unwelcome visitors on their property, and being in the Diocese of BA, nothing will be done to protect any of them. Maybe people will see how this is affecting others and do the right thing. I commend you, Matthew, for wanting to be on the BOT, do the right thing, and I understand your decision to step down. I'm sorry they didn't do the right thing so that you could, in good conscience, remain and make a difference. This whole mess is so sad, and it gets sadder each week.
Dear Father Vasile--I pray that your case will reach a just and equitable resolution. Regarding my overall assessment of the work of the OCA leadership, I continue to believe that they are doing a far better job than before. Please note that I do not consider them to be perfect, nor would I ever expect them to be perfect. Finally, let us not forget that sometimes the exceptions do prove the rule and, while you may have suffered a wrong, it is very difficult to generalize from the exceptions. In Christ, Carl
#23 Carl on 2009-11-12 19:16
At a time in the church where the hierarchy had made poor, disgraceful, unilateral decisions, perhaps MJ wanted to allow the more democratic approach.
Perhaps after meeting with attorneys and discussing the intricate details he realized the absurdity of Fr. V on the MC.
Perhaps he realized he got knocked down a notch or five by some of us loudmouths for allowing it.
It's pretty much conjecture for all of us.
To err is human you know.
Only the Pope doesn't.
#24 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-12 20:05
Stay tuned...I think there will be many, many more things we will "try to forget" about the OCA...
M t T
#25 Moses on 2009-11-13 14:54
Yes, we do need to do better in paying our clergy. So what is the answer? All you who decry it and who still don't tithe to your parish in thankfulness for all that God does for us, stop wringing your hands and start putting God first not only in your intellectual faith but in your practice of it. Priests get paid crap because people tip a waiter more than they give to God.
#26 Anonymous on 2009-11-14 08:15
This morning on the Antiochian Website of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, front and center, is MP's picture, along with a message from His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, on behalf of the clergy and faithful of his Diocese, wishing MP prayers and love on his name's day. It's very hard to have a Bishop extending this kind of wish on behalf of everyone in his Diocese - actually it's painful. Bishop JOSEPH is very silent and has been since March 1. When he does speak about this mess, he either promises things that ultimately don't happen, or he makes fun of people who post anonymously, and he says don't worry, everything will be fine. I wish he wouldn't extend greetings to MP on behalf of all of his Diocese, as there are many people who don't want to be included in that greeting - people who have been hurt deeply by this controversy in our church - and I am one of them. Sounds very political to me, instead of sincere, but who knows?
Just AMEN AMEN AMEN to the above!!
#28 Anonymous Western Diocese on 2009-11-16 01:12
from stmatthewoca.org ---
Spiritual Growth and Development Classes offered by Therese Thomas will be held at church in the conference room on Saturday evenings at 5pm. (posted 11/15/09.)
Jean Byrnes is volunteering her time and talent as Fr. Ray's administrative assistant in the church office. Jean is now staffing the church office Monday–Friday from 10am–2pm. (posted 11/15/09.)
This is something +Jonah should be very very concerned about.
Ms. Thomas is a self-proclaimed prophet or mystic and sees herself as Fr. Velencia's spiritual director. Ms. Byrnes is one of Ms. Thomas' long time spiritual directees as well. They also both happen to live and work at St. Matthew House. I believe there is some background information about them in my case materials some of which have been posted on the internet.
Regardless of the status of my case, I continue to care about and be concerned about the people who are under Fr. Velencia's pastoral umbrella. Despite the fact that the attorneys who defended the church in court indicated that Fr. Velenica is not supervised by or accountable to anyone, I thought +Jonah should know about what I consider to be risks of spiritual harm threatening people in Fr. Velencia's care.
#29 KPK on 2009-11-16 08:33
I'm not defending anybody's actions, but I do think it's possible to wish someone prayers and love on their name day and despise the things they have done.
Part of this struggle is to find the appropriate balance between righteous indignation, which I think is appropriate, and condemnation, which I think is not. If we stray too far in the direction of condemnation, we risk bringing it on ourselves, which is reason enough to abstain.
This is a spiritual war. We have to be very sure of our footing if we are going succeed.
#30 Gail Sheppard on 2009-11-16 14:45
Prayers and well wishes ? Political? No, I think it rather sounds kind of..... what do you call those people?...... ah.......oh, thats right- Christian. Christian, wow, what a concept. It sounds like they might be on to something.
#31 Sophia Weisheit on 2009-11-17 11:57
Yes, it is partly the parish's responsibility to provide enough funds for their clergy, and in my own parish, we have lots of immigrants who have come here, don't understand the pledging system of supporting the parish, the priest won't speak to the issue in their native tongue, and this is why we don't have enough funds to establish a proper retirement for our priest. Some parishes are too small and low on funds at this time to even tackle this project, and we hope that changes in the near future.
But again, look to Englewood. MP and BA live high off the hog there, with everything they need, plenty of people to do the work, plus their "Winter Palace" in Florida, and yet many of our clergy work secular jobs, their wives work, their kids get lost in the shuffle, and when they retire, there is a small stipend they must live on in order to survive. Especially now, in these economic trials we face, it is even more important that the Archdiocese establish a proper and holy retirement fund for ALL clergy, regardless of how long they have served. They sacrifice so much, and they deserve better. Instead of our money, the money that all of us give to the Archdiocese, money that came from GOD, being squandered overseas to who knows where with no records of any disbursements, that money must be kept here, in the hands of people who will care for it wisely and set up proper retirement funds for our clergy and hierarchs.
That brings up the proper audit procedures again. The money will be appropriately accounted for, we'll know how much comes in and where it goes, and then the darkness will drop off, and our money will be where we can see it, where it can do the most worthy good that is needed, not do evil deeds with it in the dark.
AN EXTERNAL, INDEPENDENT AUDIT BY A LICENSED CPA FIRM IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
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