It is necessary to become acquainted with the historical past to understand the development of SS Peter & Paul Parish. The bulk of the first immigrants that formed SS Peter & Paul Parish came from that part of Europe, at that time known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There were many different nations represented therein with different customs, languages and religions.
The Little Russians (Malorossy) of whom we are primarily concerned were divided into two groups: those under Polish rule known as Galicians (Lemki or Hali-chani), and those under Hungarian rule known as Carpatho-Russians (Uhorschani). Basically, there were little differences between them.
Until the year 1595 when the so-called "Union of Brest-Litovsk" took place in Poland and the year 1645 when the so-called "Union of Ungvar (Uzhorod)" took place in Hungary, both groups had always been devout and loyal members of the Holy Orthodox Church.
However, their Polish and Hungarian rulers sought to deprive them of one of their greatest treasures, their Orthodox Faith. They were subjected to many trials and tribulations. Not only were they denied equal civil rights but their priests were required to work on the land as serfs while the Roman clergy enjoyed all rights and privileges of the nobility.
This artificial "Unia" or Union that was created by the politics of the government never penetrated the hearts and souls of the Little Russian people. They were craving for a new freedom from the bondage of their serfdom and forced union with Rome. In their mentality, they were always Orthodox (Pravoslavny) Christians. However, as far as the Austro- Hungarian government was concerned, they were Greek Catholics in union with Rome. However, the term "Greek Catholic" is a misnomer. Anyone who acknowledges the Pope of Rome as the head of their church is a Roman Catholic whether of the Roman (Latin) Rite or of the so-called Greek or Byzantine Rite. The term "Greek Catholic" was originated by Empress Maria-Teresa of Austria to designate those former Orthodox who were forced through politics to the ignominious "union" with Rome. It is interesting to note that the "Unia" today is almost dead in Europe. Since 1945 most of the former Uniates returned to Orthodoxy, their ancient and mother religion. Today the "Unia" survives in the United States and Canada where, however, it seems that in time it will be assimilated into the Roman Rite.
Besides, the little Russians, a smaller number of Russians from Russia Proper also immigrated to this country. They also sought a better living and settled in this land. They had different problems in the old country and hoped for a better life in the United States.
In the last half of the nineteenth century, the migration to the United States by Galicians and Carpatho-Russians from Austro -Hungary, known as Little Russians, as well as from Russia Proper, took on a rapid pace. As the number of these people settling in Lorain and Elyria grew, it was realized later that there was a necessity for organization to perpetuate the religious beliefs and national culture to which these people adhered in their native country. It became evident, also, as time passed, that organization was necessary to provide mutual aid in procuring employment, which would be beneficial not only to those already living here, but also the numerous relatives and countrymen who were yet to come in the following years.
America provided new opportunities for the immigrants. Here they found freedom from oppression and opportunity for gainful employment. It wasn't too long before they realized that this would be their permanent home.
However, everything was not just right in the new land. Their religious background was somewhat different from those of the other settlers. Although they were Christians like the others, their mode of worship was Eastern in character. Consequently, they were confronted with the problem of obtaining property and building a church where they could express their religious convictions in their own accustomed way.
Thus, after we have considered the poor conditions in Europe of the Little Russian immigrants, we can understand their anxiety and even happiness to leave their old home of oppression, strife, trial and tribulation and to seek new happiness, freedom and fortune in their new home, America, the Land of the Free.
They came to their new home and began the troublesome journey of self-expression. They wanted the security of brotherhood that only people of the same background and origin could understand. This helped to unite them and keep them closely knit together.
The history of SS Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of Lorain officially began on November 30, 1913 when a group of 48 Russian Orthodox people assembled in the home of Nicholas Olszewski at 2435 East 29th Street. It was here that they first met for the purpose of forming a religious organization and establishing a place of worship for themselves and their children. It is interesting to note that of the 48 Lorainites present, most of them were young, single men who had recently made America their new home. These young men were mostly members of the SS Peter & Paul Brotherhood Lodge No. 123 of the Brotherhood Lodges of America, an organization chartered in Lorain in June of 1910 with the following officers at the helm: Michael Soviak, President; Leonty Mihalsky, Treasurer; and Peter Soviak, Secretary.
Upon the organization of the parish, the blessing of the Ruling Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in America, His Eminence, Metropolitan Platon was obtained. His Eminence later assigned a permanent pastor to the parish, who besides his religious duties carried on the educational as well as most of the administrative business of the parish.
The meeting of November 30, 1913 was called to order and conducted by Father Basil Lisenkovsky, then the pastor of St. Theodosius Russian Orthodoz Church of Cleveland. Before the evening was over, the SS Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church was born in Lorain, Ohio. Since there was no church building, it was decided to hold services at the home of Nicholas Olszewski, and later a place was rented at Oakwood and 28th Street in which services were conducted by visiting priests. However, shortly after the parish was organized, Father Basil Rubinsky was appointed the first resident pastor, and the church became very active. First officers of the parish in 1913-1914 were: Peter Proch, President of the Parish Council; Leonty Mihalsky, Treasurer; Peter Towsciak, Secretary and Michael Soviak later replacing Peter Proch.
The first metrical records registered in our parish record books now available are:
Baptism Stana Matich, daughter of Stoyan Matich and Simica Panev and baptized on January 17, 1914 by Father Basil Rubinsky. The sponsor was Boguslav Stanich. Marriage Rade Radoshevich and Eva Frankovich were married on February 1, 1914 by Father Basil Rubinsky. The attendants were Elias Radoshevich and Drashy Napysy. Funeral Infant Andrew Levchak, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elias Levchak, buried on July 30, 1915 by Father Michael Kostyk.
Six names appear on the Certificate of Incorporation dated on May 1, 1915. They are Nicholas Olszewski, John Pruski, Stephen Soviak, Peter Towsciak, Nicholas Moskal, and John Towstiak. This Certificate of Incorporation was given the approval of Bishop Alexander (Nemolovsky).
Among the founders are found the following names: Nicholas Olszewski, John E. Pruski, Stephen Soviak, Peter Towsciak, Nicholas (Michael) Moskal, John Towstiak, Joseph Matolich, Stephen Livchak, Father Peter Semkoff, Antony Mazurik, Leonty Mihalsky, Theodore E. Prusky, John Kobashar, Michael Mihalcheck, Stephen Potoczniak, Stephen Pruski, Elias (Alex) Lewchak, John Karasevich, Emil Kostelny, John Lachowyn, Vincent Shunka, Cyprian Shunka, Michael Poszywak, Wasil Kacur, Clement Husar, Michael Soviak, Michael Milli, Spyridon Mascanich, Peter Kos, John Woron-chak, Peter Proch, Nikifor Payko, Harry Kotik, Aftan Mihalsky, Nicholas Pruski, Bartholomew Semkoff, John Olszewski, Stephen Kotik, Michael Verbuhovsky, Vasily Soviak, Daniel Olszewski, Daniel Dyrda, Harry Woloshinski, Joseph Potoczniak, Casmer Glawacki, John Demko, Simeon Swistonik, John Galanka, Walter Worashinsky, Joseph Kostelny, Theodore (Smiley) Pruski, Matthew (John) Kolodey, David Betlar, Nikita Romanchuk, Timothy (Thomas) Borgrov, Ignaty Homikoff, Wasil Monastirsky, Thomas Panasiuk, Sergei Arabey, and Andrew Metka.
Thus, as can be seen, SS Peter & Paul Parish from its very inception was a part of the one and only existing Russian Orthodox Church in the United States. There was no other existing Russian Orthodox jurisdiction at this time. In sharp contrast to this, many parishes were originally organized as Uniate parishes and later were received into Orthodoxy. SS Peter & Paul Church was organized as an Orthodox parish and always remained as such and in the same jurisdiction even though it was to have serious problems later on in its history in this matter.
At the time of its founding until several years later, SS Peter & Paul Parish achieved something naturally that is now being sought by the Orthodox Council of Lorain. This fact was its unity. It was the only Orthodox Church in Lorain and all ethnic groups, viz. Greeks, Serbians, Ukrainians, Macedonians and Bulgarians belonged to SS Peter & Paul Church. It was only later that the other groups left SS Peter & Paul to organize their own parishes. Now in 1964 these same groups, not only here in Lorain but throughout the United States, are working for a closer cooperation and mutual understanding of all the various national jurisdictions.
This disruption in the church life of Orthodox in America was due to the Communist Revolution in Russia in 1917. The normal life of the Orthodox Church in America was disrupted and this affected the church life in the only Orthodox Church in Lorain. The prestige of the ecclesiastical authorities and church discipline fell and divergent views and interpretations as to organizations and rights of the members appeared. No priest was able to remain long in his office. New policies in the church, locally and nationally, so dismembered the parish that many of the ethnic groups in the parish seceded to form their own parishes. Despite all these handicaps, under the patient leadership of its pastors, the parish periodically achieved considerable strength, made progress and slowly but definitely gained victory over temporal obstacles.
After the organization of the parish, Metropolitan Platon assigned Father Basil Rubinsky as the first resident pastor. His first altar boys were John Moskal and Walter Metka. After a year, Father Rubinsky was replaced by Father Arkady Piotrovsky, during whose pastorate three lots were purchased for the construction of a church, for $350, on the corner of Gary Avenue and East 32nd Street, and thereupon a basement was erected during the pastorate of Father Michael Kostyk. Father Kostyk worked zealously for the parish under difficult circumstances. This was used as a place of worship according to the plans of Father Piotrovsky. A number of priests were appointed to the pastorate in the following years. Several of them remained for only a short time. It is interesting to note that until World War II the supply of Russian Orthodox priests was plentiful. Since then there is a serious shortage not only in the Metropolia, but throughout most jurisdictions in the United States.
The parish continued to progress in the coming years. A rectory was purchased for the pastor at 2318 East 32nd Street in 1917. In 1920 a parish cemetery section was obtained at Elmwood Cemetery in Lorain.
The erection of the upper structure of the church at the corner of Gary Avenue and 32nd Street was started in the year 1925 and completed in 1927 under the diligent pastorate of Father Basil Dziama. This accomplishment gave great impetus in the development of the parish. Father Dziama remained as pastor for ten years. After his pastorate he retained residence in Lorain and serves a parish in Bedford, Ohio. He also serves as Vice-President of the Diocesan Council of the Chicago-Minneapolis Diocese and is of great service to our Diocesan Bishop, His Eminence Archbishop John of Chicago. Recently Father Basil was awarded the Mitre by the Great Sobor of Bishops of our Metropolia.
The new upper structure was solemnly dedicated with great pomp and ceremony by His Grace, Bishop Theophilus, then Bishop of Chicago and later the Metropolitan of all America and Canada in the year 1927.
During the activities in the parish life, all parishioners should and are expected to work for its welfare. It is only proper here to mention the names of some outstanding laborers for our church. One of these laborers is Emil Kostelny, Sr. who organized the church choir in 1920 and who is at the present time the Church Sexton. The choir with its traditional Orthodox Church singing is an inspiration to all who attend services at SS Peter &. Paul Church. Later on, John Yavornitzky was to help lead the choir to be followed by Miss Margaret Dziama and Michael Karasevich.
In addition to the activities of the choir, there are those people who give of themselves unselfishly for the welfare of the parish and the glory of Almighty God. Of such a nature were men such as Kiril Maliniak, Antony Kozak, and Cyprian Shunka.
In the year 1942, Father Andrew Glagolev, a renowned priest and musician, was assigned to the pastorate of SS Peter & Paul. In a short time, Father Andrew was to become endeared to his parishioners, neighbors and all those who came to know him. It was during his pastorate that the mortgage indebtedness and the burning of the mortgage on the church property occurred in 1943. Also under his able pastorate, a new rectory was erected adjoining the church building, under his guidance in 1947.
It must be said that it is to the credit of SS Peter & Paul Parish of Lorain that it possesses a beautiful church, which is the house of God and a beautiful rectory which houses their pastor, who is their spiritual father, and his family. Also it must be said that the founders, organizers and workers in the parish had great foresight in building their church in an ideal and suitable location which is ever increasing in beauty and suitability.
In the year 1949, on September 15th, a tragedy occurred in the Glagolev family. Irene Glagolev, daughter of Father Andrew and Matushka Margaret, died unexpectedly at the age of nineteen. It was a severe loss to the family and entire parish. She is buried at the parish cemetery at Elmwood Cemetery.
Following World War II a number of new arrivals from Western Europe arrived in Lorain. These people had endured many hardships during the war and had to flee their native land and sought refuge in America. They increased in number and strength the membership of SS Peter & Paul Parish.
In 1951, pews were purchased and installed in the church.
Father Andrew's son, Sergei, was serving as Choirmaster in Detroit, Michigan since 1950. He was ordained a deacon on Thanksgiving Day in 1951 in Detroit and a priest on SS Peter & Paul Day July 12, 1952, in Lorain.
Father Glagolev was to continue working diligently at SS Peter & Paul. He was not only known to be a devoted and sincere priest but also a renowned musician. He used the talents well that were given to him by Almighty God. He wrote, composed, transposed music of the Russian Orthodox Church. One of his works, The Divine Liturgy, has been printed and widely used by the F.R.O.C. His original works are treasured by the members of the parish. In addition to his many pastoral duties and other work, Father Andrew offered of himself for the Orthodox Church and our parish. He made with his own hands the iconostas (icon screen) which will always be a reminder of his efforts and sacrifice for our parish.
It was in the year 1953 on May 12th that Almighty God called Father Andrew Glagolev to Himself. The parish was in shock at the passing of their beloved pastor. His Eminence, Metropolitan Leonty, came from New York to conduct the funeral service. Father Andrew was buried at the parish cemetery. After this time the people petitioned His Eminence to assign Father Andrew's son, Father Sergei Glagolev, as their new pastor. Metropolitan Leonty granted their request and Father Sergei began his work as pastor of SS Peter &. Paul Church.
At this period the church hall was completely reconstructed and furnished.
Later in 1955, Father Sergei and his family and mother moved to Encino, California, where through his efforts a new parish, St. Innocent Eastern Orthodox Church, was born. This parish received the blessings of the Primate, Metropolitan Leonty.
Father George Burdikoff was assigned as the next pastor of SS Peter & Paul Church in 1955 by Metropolitan Leonty. It was during his pastorate that two lots of land on East 32nd Street diagonally across the street from the church and twelve acres of land on Route 57, just about one mile from the site of the church were purchased. Once again, this was great foresight on the behalf of the parishioners of SS Peter & Paul for the future growth, development and expansion of the parish and its activities.
However, during the pastorate of Father Burdikoff once again as bad happened in the past years, strife broke out in the parish. The question of jurisdiction became an issue of discord, misunderstanding and many times unpleasantness. SS Peter & Paul Parish had always remained faithful to the Russian Orthodox Church of America (Metropolia). Now the question arose, whether to break these ties and give allegiance to the Moscow Patriarchate headed by Patriarch Alexei. A court case developed in the year 1960 which finally ended with great pains, loss of money and internal strife in 1963. During this time families were divided, brother was against brother, sister against sister. The court case not only was limited to the local County of Lorain or the Court of Appeals or the State of Ohio, but went as far as the Supreme Court.
It was during this period that a new pastor was assigned to the parish in 1961. He was Father Nicholas Gobora. His indeed was a difficult task. During the court case, the church was used by both groups alternately on Sundays. There was a time that the larger faction who supported the Metropolia, had to seek a place to worship. Through the kindness of the Romanian Church and St. John's United Church of Christ, temporary arrangements were made. During this time, Father Gobora did not occupy the rectory. The parish rented a home some distance away from the church for him and his family.
Father Gobora and his family endured these hardships with a true Christian spirit and zeal. It was not too long that on June 10, 1963, the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision in favor of the Russian Orthodox Metropolia. It was indeed a day of joy for the parish and the Metropolia. However, it was also a day of sorrow. A small group of parishioners seceded from the parish and organized a chapel in their pastor's home. It is the fervent wish of SS Peter & Paul Church that they all return and worship Almighty God together.
However, this court case is even more important than for just the local parish. It is a great victory for the entire Metropolia and will set a precedent for the future. The parishioners of SS Peter & Paul are thankful to Almighty God that their case was ended and hope peace will be established with prosperity and spiritual wealth.
A "Thank You" banquet was held on Sunday, September 29, 1963, to commemorate the decision of the Supreme Court. It is interesting to note the comments of two judges concerning our church:
"The church under the Patriarch of Moscow have waived their rights to claim any interest in the property of the Lorain Church and are estopped to claim, use or interfere with the use of the same."
Honorable W. W. Badger
Judge of the Common Pleas Court
"The historical development of Christianity in the Eastern Orthodox Churches is a subject that is not stressed in our schools, yet out of the same, much of the early foundation of the Christian Church was formed.
Honorable O. Hunsicker
The lives of its saints, and writings of its scholars, are worthy of emulation and study. "
Judge of the 9th District Court of Appeals
Father Gobora was appointed as pastor of the large parish of the Virgin Mary in Minneapolis, Minn. He left Lorain on December 31, 1963.
Shortly after, Metropolitan Leonty appointed Father Alexander Apanasevich as temporary pastor. Shortly after, he was succeeded by the present pastor, Father Daniel Donovan who arrived in Lorain with his family on March 31, 1964. Father Daniel was assigned to the Lorain parish by Metropolitan Leonty having come from a pastorate in Old Forge, Pa. where he served for six years.
Shortly after his arrival, plans were made for the celebration of the Golden Anniversary of the parish. The date chosen was November 8th.
SS Peter & Paul Parish has had two vocations to the service of the Church. Father Alexander Kobashar, the son of a founder, John Kobashar, was ordained to the priesthood on March 2, 1957. The other vocation is Luke Vronick, the grandson of a founder, Leonty Mihalsky. Both Father Kobashar and Luke Vronick are graduates of St. Tikhon's Russian Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pa.
During this summer, our parishioners were hosts to the Octet Choir of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary of Crestwood, Tuckahoe, New York. The seminarians were impressed with the hospitality and interest of our parishioners in the seminary.
SS Peter & Paul Parish is proud of its many organizations and activities.
The Parish Council headed the past four years by Mr. Gregory Sandor, is guiding the financial and administrative welfare of the parish.
SS Peter & Paul Parish is proud of its church choir which for years has been singing responses to the Divine Liturgy and other church services. One of the most active organizations of the parish is the Virgin Mary Altar Sisterhood. In addition, there is a Spolok Sobor Presvjatyja Bohorodicy for the ladies of the parish.
The parish has a Senior and a Junior "R" Club. The parish has in existence a church school which helps with the instruction of the youth of the parish in their religion. Recently a Parents Teachers Organization (P.T.O.) has been organized to provide for the welfare of the church school and the religious program. Also, recently, a junior choir named the Cherub Choir has been organized through the cooperation of Miss Margaret Dziama. The parish also cooperates in the movement of a United Orthodoxy with its participation in the activities of the Eastern Orthodox Council of Lorain. This is one of such organizations in our country working towards a common goal of furthering the cause of Orthodoxy.
Thus, as SS Peter & Paul celebrates its Golden Jubilee, it looks ahead toward a better future. It is the hope of the pastor, Parish Council and parishioners that the next fifty years will bring spiritual growth, peace, harmony and mutual understanding.
|1913 - 1914
||Father Basil Rubinsky
||Father Arkady Piotrovsky
||Father Sebastian Karpenko
||Father Peter Solovey
||Father Nicholas Godikov
||Father Michael Kostyk
||Father John Olshevsky
|1918 - 1920
||Father Hieromonk Luke (Cirkun)
|1920 - 1922
||Father Michael Tidick
||Father Basil Kolesnikov
||Father Nicholas Borisov
|1923 - 1933
||Father Basil Dziama
||Father Michael Kostyk
||Father Prokopy Povarnitzin
||Father Theodore Migdal
||Father Stephen Paluch
||Father John Krochmalny
|1934 - 1937
||Father Gregory Stefchak
|1937 - 1941
||Father John Semanitzky
||Father Ilia Baran
||Father Sergei Glagolev
|1955 - 1961
||Father George Burdikoff
||Father Nicholas Gobora
||Father Alexander Apanasevich
||Father Daniel Donovan