Representatives of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America [FOCA] met with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon at the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America here on Saturday, April 13, 2013.
Participants included Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary; Archpriest Theodore Boback; Becky Tesar, FOCA President; Marge Kovach, FOCA Vice President; and Dr. John Schultz, FOCA Immediate Past President.
The meeting opened with a general introduction of the FOCA’s mission, history, current activities, and charitable works, and future vision. Organized as the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs [FROC] by Father Vladimir Prislopsky and other far-sighted laypersons and clergy in 1927, the organization has worked toward uniting Orthodox Christians in faith, fellowship and service to the Church. Through its network of senior and junior chapters coast-to-coast, a variety of religious, educational, cultural, social and athletic activities have provided an ideal way to meet others within the faith, beyond the boundaries of the local parish. At their 1994 national convention, FROC members petitioned the Holy Synod of Bishops to be recognized officially by the Orthodox Church in America; at the 1998 convention, the organization adopted its present name.
Highlights of the meeting include the following.
- “To witness our faith by charitable works through fellowship” embodies the FOCA’s mission and vision. Within this context, it was noted that the FOCA has pledged $300,000.00 to the Saint Tikhon Seminary Married Student Housing Project. The organization also supports the annual Saint Nicholas Day “gift wish lists” submitted by married seminarians and their families.
- The FOCA’s support of Orthodox Christian missions was discussed, as was the annual United Fund Appeal that benefits Orthodox seminaries, missions, special needs in the Diocese of Alaska, youth ministry, scholarships, IOCC, and Saint Vladimir’s Camp and Retreat Center, Farmdale, OH. The annual Gifts of Love campaign most recently supported the Cleveland-based Orthodox pro-life ministry, “Zoe! For Life.”
- Also discussed were the FOCA’s youth programs, including those offered at Saint Vladimir’s Camp and Retreat Center and its national basketball tournament, which annually attracts an average of 300-400 youth and young adults. This year’s tournament will be held in Canonsburg, PA during the third weekend of May.
- It was decided that the FOCA will provide reports to the OCA’s Metropolitan Council, and noted that the FOCA is working to hold its 89th annual National Convention in conjunction with the OCA’s 18th All-American Council in 2015.
- Discussions also revolved around the importance of establishing and maintaining a strong working relationship and ongoing hierarchical and clergy support between the OCA and FOCA in the effort to achieve common goals. A variety of ways by which FOCA chapters can help support and sustain parish financial, outreach and fellowship goals were considered.
Additional information on the FOCA may be found on its web site.