Parish History

Transfiguration of Our Lord
Ukrainian Catholic Church
Nanticoke, PA

TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

HANOVER SECTION OF NANTICOKE, PENNSYLVANIA

A HISTORY

Including Discussion of the Lemkos…our forefathers

As of September 23, 2012

 

By Dr. Joseph Krawczeniuk, Jill Gagliardi, Denise Kaminski and Gayle Miles

The history of Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church is complex and cannot be told without reference to our ancestors. The Ukrainian community of the Hanover Section of Nanticoke (formerly known as Rhone, Pennsylvania) consists of descendants of immigrants from the Lemkivshchyna and Peremyshl regions. These immigrants arrived in this area between 1880 and 1914 from Zavadka Rymanivska, Synyava Rymaniv, Hachiv, Stershny, Peremyshl, Lubachiv, Zbarazh, and Rohatyn. We include a history of our Lemko ancestors as an introduction to who we are.

HISTORICAL NOTES ON THE LEMKOS

BY DR. JOSEPH V. KRAWCZENIUK

The term “Lemko” seems to be derived from frequent use of the word “lem”, meaning but or if only, by the natives of Lemkivshchyna (the Lemkian region), the westernmost extension of Ukrainian territory in Central Europe. Wedged between Polish and Slovak dialects, the Lemkian dialect developed some striking peculiarities not found in other Ukrainian dialects. The Lemkian region occupies the lowest part of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains, the Beskyds. The landscape is typical of medium-height mountain terrain and a series of mountain passes facilitate the communication between the Galician and Transcarpathian Lemkos. The Galician Lemkian region comprises the southern part of the Novy Sanch, Horlytsi, Yaslo, Krosno and Sanok counties. The eastern part of this region belonged to the Ukrainian Kyivan state, then to the Galician-Volhynian state. In the 1340’s, the Galician Lemkian region was occupied by the Polish king Casimir the Great and remained under the Polish rule until 1772, the year of the first partition of Poland. The Transcarpathian Lemkian region occupies most of the Presov region; it belonged to the Ukrainian Kyivan state’s sphere of influence from the mid-10th century to the 1020’s when it came under the rule of Hungary.

From 1772 to 1918, both Lemkian regions, Galician and Transcarpathian, came under the rule of Austria, as of 1867 of the dual Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In the Galician Lemkian region, the hopes for the relaxation of the oppressive Polish regime didn’t come true, because the Austro-Hungarian government, trying to pacify the Polish demands for independence, gave the Poles full rein over the Ukrainian Lemkos. As a result, the Poles continued their centuries-old oppressive tactics over the Ukrainians, robbing them of all political, economic and cultural rights and destroying everything pertaining to the Ukrainians. Despite the abolition of serfdom in 1848, Polish nobility sought to increase its power through colonization and continue to control the economic life. Peasants were unable to make a living from their farms, had to work for the Polish lords and became fully dependent upon them. This was the reason why a movement began in the last quarter of the 19th century in the Galician (and Transcarpathian) Lemkian region, calling for emigration to foreign countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, the United States and Canada. In Transcarpathia, the Hungarian government introduced the policy of Magyarization and the local Lemkos were expected to become Hungarians of the Greek Catholic rite. The Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian and Cyrillic script by the Latin alphabet, both in schools and in church.

The intrinsic conservatism of the Lemkos preserved them from “polonization”, but at the same time impeded the rise of Ukrainian national consciousness among them. In the 1900’s, the old Ruthenian cultural mainstream led mostly by local priests turned in a Russophile direction and received support from the Russian tsarist government. Simultaneously, the Ukrainian national movement gained among the Lemkos, especially in the Novyi Sanch, Horlytsi and Sanik areas. A struggle arose between the Ukrainian and the Russophile tendencies. During World War I, the struggle for Ukrainian statehood promoted the growth of the Lemko Ukrainian consciousness. After the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Sanik Commissariat of the newly created Western Ukrainian National Republic was active until mid-February 1919 and was known as “the Komancha Republic.” At the same time, the Russophile group in the western part of the Lemkian region proclaimed the so-called “Lemko Republic” and agitated for the annexation of that region by Czechoslovakia.

On June 28, 1919, the Paris Peace Conference sanctioned the occupation of eastern Galicia (and the Galician Lemkian region) by Poland and of Transcarpathia by Czechoslovakia (as of September 19, 1919). In the Galician Lemkian region, the Polish authorities were busy trying to isolate the Lemkos from any Ukrainian influence and supported in the region the anti-Ukrainian Orthodoxy. In 1934 the Galician Lemkian region was separated from the Peremyshl Greek Catholic eparchy and turned into a separate “Lemko Apostolic Administration” with a Russophile hierarchy. Ukrainian teachers were replaced by Poles, Polish patriotism was stressed. Theology students from the region were obliged to study in Polish Roman Catholic seminaries in Cracow and Tarnow. Overall, Polish authorities were trying to stop the further development of the Ukrainian movement and supported the Russophiles to keep the Lemkos divided and eventually to turn them into a Polish ethnic group. However, all these anti Ukrainian policies of the Polish authorities did not yield the results they aimed at. Supported by the “organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna” (headquartered in the United States), the economic and educational societies “Silskyi hospodar” (The village farmer), “Ridna shkola” (the native school) and especially “Prosvita” (The Enlightenment) contributed immensely to the preservation and growth of Ukrainian movement among the Lemkos in pre-war Poland.

As a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of August 1939, Peremyshl and the Galician Lemkian region came under the German control as part of the so called General government (Sept.1939-Summer 1944). Despite many difficulties, a limited cultural-educational activity was conducted by some prominent Lemkian leaders and the Ukrainian refugees from the Soviet-occupied Eastern Galicia.

In the summer of 1944, the Soviets occupied the eastern and in early 1945 the western part of the Galician Lemkian region. Taking advantage of the war situation the Polish underground forces assassinated prominent Lemkos. On August 15, 1945 Poles and the Soviets reached an agreement on the forcible resettlement of the Lemkos to the Soviet Ukraine. By mid-1946, about 80% of Lemkos were moved there, mostly to the Sambir, Lviv and Ternopil areas, some to eastern part of Ukraine, the Donbas. In 1947 the Polish government launched the infamous “Operation Wisla” to eradicate the Ukrainian population of the Galician Lemkian region. This resulted in the forcible deportation of the Lemkos westward and northward to the former German areas occupied by Poland after World War II. Aside from the forcible deportation the “Operation Wisla” included the destruction of about 350 Lemkian churches and several architectural relics, plowing over the cemeteries, wiping out dozens of villages, and changing c a 120 geographical names. Approximately  1000 of 4,000 Lemkos in Poland have been allowed to return to their homeland. They are dispersed in the 4 Horlytsi and Sanik areas and form a majority in only a few places. Except for a few Ukrainian monuments preserved in Polish museums, all others have been destroyed or continue to deteriorate. Most Poles consider the Lemkos to be part of Polish, not of Ukrainian nation.

In the Presov region’s official communication, the “Rusyn” dialect is not used. The few “Rusyn” newspapers are reducing their publications from weekly to bi-weekly to monthly, and the “Info-Rusyn” monthly prints about 40% of its articles in Slovak language. In the church-affiliated publications, the Cyrillic alphabet is gradually replaced by the Latin alphabet. The “Rusyn” dialect is not studied at the Department of Theology of the University of Presov. The Greek Catholic Church translated the Liturgy into Slovak language and switched from the Gregorian to the Julian calendar.

The Galician Lemkian region produced many Ukrainian activists, intellectuals, writers, poets, artists et al. The most notable among them were: Abp. Metropolitan Sylvester Sembratovych, Julian Pelesh and Josaphat Kotsylovsky, both bishops of the Peremyshl eparchy. Bishop Pelesh was also a well-known historian. Worth mentioning are also internationally known scholars Ivan Zilynsky and Volodymyr Kubiyovych (linguist and geographer, resp.), both professors at the University of Cracow, Poland. Of Lemko descent were Michael Verbytsky, composer of the Ukrainian national anthem and modest Mentsinsky, tenor, soloist at the Stockholm, Sweden opera, as well as at various Western European opera houses. The names of well-known Lemkos would fill a long list of noted Ukrainian writers, poets, painters, sculptors et al.

Ethnical characteristics: the Lemkos are people of high temperament and deep feeling of their historical belonging to the Ukrainian nation. Noteworthy are their conservative philosophy of life, a religious education, as well as highly developed honesty and sincerity. They are closely attached to their national heritage, their homeland, traditions and church. They are impervious to external influences.

Lemkian homesteads are built of wood and usually consist of a single building with a corridor separating the living quarters from the stable. The sloping roof is covered with shingles in the eastern region, with straw in the eastern region.

The first Lemkian churches were built circa 9th-10th century. They are always located on an elevated ground in the center of the village, are topped with external baroque domes and high belfries over the vestibules. They are witness to the architecture which is rich in ornamentation and independent in esthetic taste.

Economy: Before 1880, grazing and sheep-farming constituted an important occupation of the Lemkos. The decline of animal husbandry was followed by dairy farming and crop growing (flax, oats, rye, wheat, potatoes). Secondary occupation included lumbering, handicrafts and cottage industries, such as weaving, woodworking, quarrying, and selling grease. Lemkos also found work and market for their dairy products, berries and mushrooms, especially at spas and health resorts (Rymaniv, Shchavnytsya, and Vysova). To a lesser degree, the Lemkos may have been working at oil wells, salt mines and mineral springs.

The largest concentration of the Lemkos in the United States has been in Pennsylvania and around Cleveland, Ohio. They are divided in three groups: “Rusyn” (Ruthenian), Ukrainian and Russophile. Members of the Ukrainian group were the founders of the Ukrainian National Association (1894), the oldest and largest Ukrainian fraternal organization, at present working in Parsippany, NJ. In 1936, the Ukrainian group of the American Lemkos established the “Organization for the Defense of the Lekivshchyna,” which publishes its own journal “The Voice of Lemkivshchyna,” containing valuable articles on the history of the Lemkoland, memoirs, biographies of prominent Lemko leaders, etc.

BUILDING THE CHURCH – THE EARLY YEARS

The first act of the Ukrainian immigrants upon finding a job in the coal mines or in the factories was the erection of a place of worship and, concurrently with it, the establishment of fraternal lodges to protect their family in the event of their natural or accidental deaths. The main objective of the lodges was to maintain a fund from which the sick from among their membership could be supported, the dead buried and their survivors assisted financially. They were also supposed to establish schools in which the children of the members and of other persons of Ukrainian descent could be educated according to the tenets of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite. One such lodge was established in the Hanover Section of Nanticoke in 1898. It was called the “Saint Spasa United Greek Catholic Society of Rhone, Pennsylvania”. Its objectives were: “to assist one another in acts of benevolence and charity, to promote religion and morality, to educate its members in the observance of the laws of this commonwealth, and to foster in them the duties and citizenship”. The first subscribers of the society were: John Wowk, Anthony Grozio, John Bobak, Kuzma Sura, Peter Sivilich and Wasyl Blysak. They signed the charter on November 28, 1898.

In the early years, Ukrainian pioneers of the Hanover Section of Nanticoke had no church of their own and attended the Ukrainian churches in Alden, Glen Lyon, and Plymouth. It was not until 1909 that they decided to establish their own parish and apply for a charter for what became known as the “Saint Spasa United Greek Catholic Church and Congregation of Rhone, Pennsylvania.” They elected a board of trustees consisting of twelve lay members: six from Galicia and six from Subcarpathia, which was referred to in those days as Uhorshchyna. Those elected for the first year were: Fedko Cirko, John Bobak, Andrew Yurchak, John Brusina, Stephen Kotsur, Johann Paskiewicz, Tymko Storosko, Wasyl Storosko, John Koplun, Wasyl Kopco, John Turnak, and Hryts Homiak. The subscribers were: John Bobak, Andrew Yurchak, Johann Pskiewicz, John Turnak, and Tymko Hulyk.

At the first organizational meeting held at the home of Theodore Dolynsky in October 1909, about sixty families decided to have Tymko Storosko and Johann Paskiewicz represent them in Philadelphia to petition Bishop Soter Ortynsky for permission to build a church in Hanover and to have a pastor of their own. At first, the Bishop was opposed to building another church in a territory where other Ukrainian churches were already in existence. Subsequently, he granted permission. Meanwhile, the congregation purchased for $600 a lot in Nanticoke at Chestnut, Cemetery, and Field Streets. At a meeting of the male members of the congregation in the first half of 1911, it was decided “to transfer to Bishop Soter Ortynsky, or to his successors, the real estate now owned by this corporation…” (The property mentioned above). Johann Paskiewicz served as the attorney, and the document was signed in the presence of Thomas Butkiewicz by Fedko Cirko, the president, and Andrew Yurchak, the secretary.

In 1911, another lot on Grove Street, which is now known as Center Street, was purchased from John and Maria Paskiewicz for the sum of $1,250. This property was to be used for the building of the church. The work began in September, 1911. It was carried out mostly by male parishioners. However, some female parishioners also participated in the project. The church was completed in August, 1912 at a cost of $5,467. It was blessed that same year on the feast of the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord, the patronal feast of the church. The newly created parish was administered by the priest from Alden, the late Reverend Anthony Lotowycz.

A decision was made on August 24, 1912, to amend “the name [of the church} from Saint Spasa United Greek Catholic Church and Congregation of Rhone, Pennsylvania, to The Greek Catholic Ruthenian Church of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, Rhone, Pennsylvania.  Another amendment concerning the trustees was also made. The words: “six from Galicia, six from Uhorshchyna” were amended to read: “Trustees of said congregation shall consist of the Bishop of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, who has jurisdiction over the congregation, the priest assigned by proper church authorities, and five lay members of the congregation”. The final amendment was made from “The property shall always remain in the control of the Board of Trustees’ to “No article of this incorporation shall be altered, amended or repealed, nor shall these articles of this incorporation in any way be modified, except upon the application of a majority of all the lay members of the said corporation and only upon the consent of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Bishop, Right Reverend Soter Ortynsky, or his successors”. The document was signed by Fedko Cirko, the president, and Andrew Yurchak, the secretary.

In 1915, Bishop Soter Ortynsky purchased from the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company the property at the corner of the intersection of Grove and Perry Streets for the sum of $1,200. On March 2, 1916, he granted and conveyed to the church “all the surface or right of soil of {this} parcel of land to the church”.

THE PASTORS AND THE BUILDINGS

The first resident pastor of the Hanover parish was Reverend John Voloshchuk (1875-1930), who was assigned there in 1915. During his pastorate, a three-story frame rectory with twenty-three rooms was built that same year at a cost of $16,000. It was razed in 1939 and replaced by the new rectory in 1940 at a cost of $7,000. Reverend Michael Kuzmak, the pastor at that time, lived temporarily at 408 Perry Street. The building committee for the new rectory consisted of: John Swantko, the president, George Blysak, the vice president, Nicholas Mechak, the treasurer, John Kost, the assistant treasurer, and Michael Shalaida, the secretary. The auditors were: Andrew Blysak and Russell Skordy.  Peter Hoyson was the church usher. The rectory was blessed at a ceremony conducted by reverend Michael Kuzmak on July 2, 1940.

With the completion of this project, the congregation began to make plans for the erection of a new church at a cost of $25,000. These plans never materialized due to developments resulting from World War II. At a meeting on December 14, 1941, a decision was made to use the funds accumulated for the erection of the new church to purchase defense bonds. The sum of $10,000 was invested in defense bonds, and a new church was never constructed.  The parish became known as Holy Transfiguration and eventually the name was amended to Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church.

When Reverend Nicholas Fisanick became pastor of the Holy Transfiguration Church in May 1949, the church was almost completely renovated. The exterior was covered with aluminum siding, the façade with a fiber glass awning, and stone steps were built to provide more convenient access to the church. The sanctuary was furnished with a new bronze, marble-top altar. A new proskomedyinyk, tabernacle, and candlesticks were selected to match the altar. A large stained-glass window depicting the crucifixion was installed in the rear of the sanctuary. Electric bell ringers were connected to the huge cast iron bells in the tower of the church at a cost of $3,000. They can be operated manually from the balcony. The nave of the church also underwent several changes: rubber tile flooring was laid throughout the church, wrought iron lighting fixtures, spot lights, and a new electrical system were installed. Stained-glass windows replaced conventional ones and new Stations of the Cross were hung at a cost of $2,500. They were created by Christine Dochwat of Philadelphia. A new stoker with baseboard heating was installed.

In 1951, a building was purchased from the Hanover Dress Factory for the sum of $25,000 and converted into the Parish Hall. After some improvements and a blessing by Bishop Constantine Bohavchevsky, it was used for various parish activities. These activities included dinners, picnics, and summer school sessions. The building was rented to various individuals and organizations providing a source of income for the church. The building, erected in 1898, was destroyed by a fire on Saturday, February 7, 1987.

During the pastorate of Reverend Myron Grabowsky, renovations were made to the church basement and its kitchen.  A new boiler room, stairs, resting area, and an office for the choir director were added. Inside the church, new stained-glass lighting fixtures were hung, carpeting was replaced, the walls were painted and the iconostas was refurbished. These changes were completed in 1983 at a cost of $125,000. During Reverend Grabowsky’s tenure, the Holy Year Choir was established with Dr. Richard Barno as its director. The choir has been active for 37 years, singing the responses to the Liturgy and giving concerts.

ACTIVITIES AND FUNDRAISING

The Mother Seton Guild was organized in 1979 for the purpose of providing the children of the parish   with transportation to CCD classes.  Over the years the children have also been treated to excursions to New York City, Sight and Sound in Lancaster, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, as well as annual trips to local amusement parks. All First Communicants and high school graduates received gifts along with those given at Christmas, Easter Egg Hunts and parties. The Guild held spaghetti dinners, Christmas Cookie Sales, raffles, lotteries, night at the races fundraisers, bingo and dinner dances in the church hall as a source of supporting these projects.

As a result of the decrease in the number of children, the Guild began to address parish needs. The group hosted the annual Scviachene in the hall and purchased place settings, glassware, and flatware to serve 100, along with pots, pans, and other accessories. Contributions included $500 towards church painting, $1,200 to the CCD program, priest’s vestments, dalmatics, cassocks and candles for altar boys. In addition, the ladies purchased the Plaschanitsa and a riding lawn mower for the cemetery. The Guild disbanded in May of 2002.

Father Grabowsky served until 1984 and the Rev. Dr. Nick Kostiuk became the next pastor. A new Church Hall was built in 1989 and it served as the site of the three day Labor Day Festivals which resumed in 1990. When the festivals came to an end in 1999, the trustees leased the hall to a vendor who held private parties there. During that time, the Mother Seton Guild continued to host Scviachene, dinner dances and other fundraisers in the hall.  On Mother’s Day each year, through the efforts of the Potsko Family, the tradition of a carnation sale benefitting Pennsylvanians for Human Life began and continues to this day. With the help of fundraisers, most notably the pierogi projects, and the donations of the parishioners, the interior of the Church was painted in 1998.

PRIESTS FROM UKRAINE

When Father Nick Kostiuk’s health began to fail in 1998, priests from Ukraine began to serve the parish. These priests continue to teach the parishioners the customs and traditions of our Ukrainian heritage. Father Nick served until January of 1999. After his retirement, he continued to serve the priests of the parish until his death in 2007.

The first from Ukraine to serve was Father Wasyl Kharuk, who came in December of 1998 and began a celebration of our Ukrainian heritage which was called “Piznay Ukrainu”. A few years later this became our pre-Lenten event, Myasopusna. The exteriors of the church and rectory were painted and a Singing Carillon System was installed.  Air conditioning, donated by Helen Heylek, was added in 2000 making the Church more comfortable during the hot summer months. Father Kharuk served until December 2000. In 2002, when he celebrated his Tenth Anniversary, the choir was invited to sing at his new parish in Jersey City, New Jersey. Many parishioners also made the trip to help Father celebrate.

 Father Wasyl (Paul) Repela, also from Ukraine, became pastor in December of 2000. It was under the guidance of Father Repela that the Mother Seton Guild commissioned an artist in the Ukraine to create a beautiful Plaschanitsa for the Parish. In 2001, with Father Repela’s help, the Mother Seton Guild began a relationship with the Orphanage of the Holy Family in the village of Petrykiv Ternopil, Ukraine. The Guild began clothing and toy collections which were packaged and shipped to Ukraine. When the children needed boots and coats, the Guild supplied them. Letters were exchanged with many of the students and in December 2001 individual packages of toys were sent   for the Feast of St. Nick.  Many parishioners were involved in these projects and all agreed it was one of our best endeavors.  Father Repela served until July, 2001.

CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS

Father Thaddeus Krawchuk served next, staying until August of 2003. Under Father Ted, a Sunday Coffee Hour was instituted. It continues to be held the first Sunday of each month.  Parishioners take a turn each month to provide coffee, goodies, and conversation following the 10:30 Divine Liturgy.

Father Volodymyr Klanichka and his wife Nataliya moved into the rectory in August, 2003. Under Father Klanichka, the pre-Lenten tradition of Myasopusna continued.  The parish also resumed spaghetti dinners and lottery fundraisers.

Adjacent to the Church is the beautiful statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the scene of many May Crownings. In 2004, through the efforts of the Mother of Perpetual Help Society, and the generosity of many parishioners, it was refurbished and a grotto was built around it for protection. It was dedicated by Father Klanichka on May 12, 2004.

 In the summer of 2004, beautiful new domes, banyas, replaced the old. The $19,475 project was funded by pierogi sales, a calendar drawing, and generous donations from parishioners.

 On Pentecost Sunday (June 4), 2006 Transfiguration Church (and the other Ukrainian Catholic Churches in the North Anthracite Deanery) returned to the previously abandoned practice of administering the Eucharist to children from their time of initiation into the faith. The last First Communion class had received on May 7, 2006, and now all children would partake of the Eucharist at Divine Liturgy as the Mystery of Reconciliation replaced “First Holy Communion”.  All churches were to now use a baptismal font for total immersion during the Baptism .The Baptismal Font was donated by the children of John and Shirley Yanoshak in their memory. The first child to be baptized in the font was Riley Elizabeth Franks on December 17, 2006.

 Father Klanichka served until July of 2006, when Father Roman Petryshak, his wife Nataliya, and son Damyan took up residence in the rectory. The rectory was now the residence of the priest and his family and in an endeavor to give them some privacy; it was remodeled in the autumn of 2006. The bishop directed that the office be transformed into living space and a new office be created from the former living room.  In 2007, the rectory kitchen also received an update.

NEW PARISHIONERS AND ARCHEPARCHIAL DIRECTIVES

In August, 2006, St Nicholas Parish in Nanticoke closed, and many of its parishioners chose to join Transfiguration. They immediately became active in the parish. We gained new choir members and fabulous bakers. These folks were instrumental in starting our annual flea markets, a big fundraiser for the parish.

In 2008, the Archeparchy directed all parishes to use the resources within each parish to create Generations of Faith. Parishioners were asked to share lessons, which were teachings of the faith, through psalms and presentations. Gayle Miles was charged with bringing these teachings to the parishioners through lessons, events, and presentations. One of our favorite activities was on Pentecost Sunday in 2009 when we held a service in front of the grotto and released balloons with messages of peace and love. That was the Sunday that we “spoke in tongues” (Mk 16:17)– simultaneously reciting the Creed in English, Ukrainian, Slavonic, German and Spanish.

During 2008 we conducted our annual fundraisers (Turkey Bingo, Spaghetti Dinner and Flea Market) in the hall but it was our special honor to host the reception for Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka’s 25th Anniversary in January 2008.

A new system of leadership within the parish was instituted in 2010. Under the direction of Archbishop Soroka, the previous system of three trustees was changed and two councils were formed. The councils consist of Pastoral, who assists the priest in making decisions based on what is good for the parish and Finance, who oversee the expenditures. The priest remains, however, as the final decision maker.

It was noticed that the Plaschanitsa was beginning to fray. In 2009, a case was custom made to enclose this precious artwork.  It was donated by the Yanoshak family in memory of their brother Randy. The case hangs on the wall behind the altar until the Plaschanitsa is needed for Good Friday services and during the Easter season.

In 2010 the domes (banyas) were cleaned and the parking lot was blacktopped. Book racks, donated by Anna Kutsup in memory of her family, were placed on the backs of the pews.  A rail, donated by Michael and Irene Hvozda, was installed on the church steps to assist our parishioners in climbing the stairs. In 2010 we held a “potato pancake” dinner during Lent which was so successful that in 2011 and 2012 we conducted meat free dinners each week during the Lenten season. And as always, we continue to make pierogis!

Throughout one hundred years, we have continued many of our religious traditions including petitions to the Blessed Mother, singing and reciting the Liturgy in Slavonic, adoration and services during Holy Week, as well as our cultural traditions: making pysanky, visits from St. Nick, and Scviachene.

 

OUR CENTENNIAL YEAR

In the summer of 2011, the centennial committee was formed to prepare for our centennial year. In honor of our heritage and in reflection on the many sacrifices that were made to create our church, we celebrated our momentous year with cultural, spiritual and social activities, hosting an activity or project each month.  With great respect for the way in which our forefathers spoke, the Our Father was said in Ukrainian by the Saturday congregation every week during the centennial year.

We started the year doing one of the things that we do best……we held a fundraiser! Our goal was to sell 1000 lottery tickets with a $100 prize given each Sunday, starting with September 4, 2011 and ending with August 26, 2012. We were very fortunate to sell most of the tickets and we congratulate all of our winners. The profit was $3,490 and the funds were used to subsidize our centennial year activities.            

Our “kick off” breakfast was on Sunday, September 4, 2011 and featured a talk by Transfiguration’s own Dr. Joseph Krawczeniuk, renowned historian and expert on the beginnings of the Ukrainian movement in the Nanticoke area. He provided us with insight into our history as well as a detailed explanation of our origins in the Lemko region of Ukraine.  Other activities over the months included a pie sale, a pysanky demonstration, a tea for the ladies, an ice cream social for the children and a hot dog and beer party for the men of our parish. We updated the Christmas service booklets and organized the “Hours of Adoration” during the Lenten season. We were very pleased that our church was able to revert to a past tradition and stay open continuously from Good Friday to Sunday’s Resurrection Service. Our final event was a Taste of the Parish: an afternoon of bingo, games and good food. The committee continued to work hard to prepare for the Liturgy and banquet on Sunday, September 23, 2012.

During 2012, in preparation for the centennial, many projects were completed. Under the direction of Dr. Mike Sawczuk and Brian Kawczenski, Monday night projects became a regular occurrence. Repairs were made to the fence, the foundation was painted, the back rooms of the church were painted and new carpeting was installed in the back and around the altar. The altar chalice and accessories were refurbished. Many parishioners came out to help and we are very indebted to them.

Father Roman served until July 31, 2012 and Father Volodymyr Popyk is the present pastor. He and his wife Nataliya, daughter Veronika, and son Maryan arrived at the parish on August 1, 2012, just in time for our “Taste of the Parish” event and, of course, our official Centennial Celebration on September 23, 2012.

As we celebrate our 100th year, we remember and give thanks for those who came before us. They have instilled strong family foundations and traditions. We ask God to continue to bestow His blessings on our parishioners and church community.

Glory Be to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!

Mnohya I Blahya Lyta!