The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 30, 2012

Online vote goes to bishop

JOHNSTOWN — The results are in.

In our completely unscientific online survey, your top story of 2012 is:

(Drum roll, please)

The Nov. 27 ordination of Bishop Gregory of Nyssa as leader of American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA.

The story received 178 votes out of 227 cast in the poll, far out-distancing the news of Rep. Mark Critz’s loss to Allegheny County Republican Keith Rothfus in the November election. Critz-Rothfus only received 14 votes in our poll.

Not that Bishop Gregory isn’t newsworthy – our professional journalists put him in their Top 10, albeit at No. 10 – but his plurality did raise our eyebrows.

The very nature of an online, anonymous survey invites multiple votes, social media campaigns and even some electronic ballot-box stuffing.

It was interesting to see which story brought such passion.

And maybe we professionals were wrong. After all, the bishop was about the only “Good News” story in the Top 10. Journalists are often accused of only caring about bad news.

We would bristle at the accusation, pointing out that our top story choices affected a lot more people, at least in this region.

Drilling down through the data – as we would for any story on a survey – we found that the story’s 178 votes came from just 88 different IP addresses (basically the Internet account identifier). Hmm.

Several of the IP addresses featured multiple votes, even with the same email address. Many started with fr., father., or padre. Hmm.

One IP address cast 62 votes with 33 different – but suspiciously similar – email addresses. Hmm.

So congratulations to the Bishop Gregory of Nyssa Fan Club on your Get Out the Vote Campaign. It looks like you got 1,271 percent more participation than the Critz and Rothfus campaign committees combined.

Bishop Gregory’s supporters say he deserves it. More importantly, the historic event deserves it.

“How does a new bishop follow in the footsteps of a saint that preceded him?” queries the Rev. Nectarios Trevino of Nativity of Our Lord Orthodox Church in Manassas, Va.  

“Bishop Gregory of Nyssa is following in the footsteps of His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos of blessed memory,” Trevino wrote. “Metropolitan Nicholas was known around the world and was one often said to be ‘worthy of being the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.’ ”

Bishop Gregory’s journey to ordination took nearly two years and required a meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, and a vote by the Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod in Istanbul, Turkey.

His new synod covers half the United States and reaches across the globe, Trevino said.

“The enthronement story must be placed in a much larger, longer, historical, worldwide context,” Trevino said.

“The event may have taken place in Johnstown, but it had ripples in history and the Orthodox Christian ecclesiastical world – worldwide. It was a story about the enthronement of a bishop for the peoples of the world.”

Support for the ordination as 2012’s top story began with the Very Rev. Protopresbyter Frank P. Miloro of Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown. Miloro’s wife, Connie, said he announced his top-story effort in church, had family members post it on Facebook, got it on the Diocese website and sent an email to all clergy.

She also stressed the significance of the event.

“Church that day was like a fairy tale,” she said. “People in the back of the church were even standing on chairs so not to miss a thing.

“So you see, this was the icing on the cake to vote for Bishop Gregory.”

Connie Miloro admits she voted twice, but pointed out, “I read to make sure there was no stipulation of one vote only.”

She’s right, there were no such stipulations.

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