The official presentation was made by FOCA national spiritual advisor, the Very Rev. Eugene Vansuch, and Mrs. Elizabeth Slanta, FOCA Mission Hotline chairperson. Father Vansuch and Mrs. Slanta also serve as members of the seminary board of trustees. The keys were presented to His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska. Blessing of the vehicle followed the presentation.
The new Chevy Blazer was secured through the FOCA’s “Gifts of Love” program. Delegates to the 2002 FOCA National Convention in Camp Hill, PA decided to raise funds to aid the Church in Alaska. Subsequently, FOCA national President John Kruchok and Father Vansuch met with Bishop Nikolai, who suggested that a new vehicle to replace the van donated by the FOCA in 1985 could be a consideration. The project complemented the FOCA’s official designation of a theme for 2003 - “S.O.S. - Serving Our Seminaries.” The FOCA addressed the theme with its seminarian family assistance programs; the seminarian family Christmas gift program, which provided $50 per seminarian child on Saint Nicholas Day; annual gifts to the OCA Seminaries through the FOCA United Fund; and the Saint Herman vehicle project.
A two-year project was initiated, which included two annual appeals and an “ice-scraper” fundraiser which offered a specially prepared scraper for a $10 donation. According to President Kruchok, over $25,000 was raised for this project with donations coming from FOCA sources, parishes and even readers of “The Orthodox Church” newspaper.
“The ice-scraper campaign was a reminder to us in the lower 48 of the harsh conditions in the north, as we scraped ice from our car windows in another unusually cold winter in the northeast,” President Kruchok said.
With the final purchase price of just over $22,000, the FOCA will be able to make a further gift with the excess funds collected. The additional funds will be presented at the 2004 FOCA National Convention to Very Rev. Chad Hatfield, Dean of St. Herman’s Seminary, who will be in attendance.