Parish History

The early days of St. Michael’s Church is a history similar to many Carpatho-Russian parishes in the United States. Immigrants by the thousands left their homes in the Carpathian Mountains of Europe and relocated to the industrial centers of America where work could easily be found in the steel mills and mines. Such was the case in the vicinity of Clymer, PA that by 1907 there were sufficient Carpatho-Russians to enable this strongly knit group to unite and organize a parish. A Charter was granted in 1907, and the parish was founded with the assistance of St. Michael’s Greek Catholic Union Lodge No. 414. This zealous group erected a modest one-story stone foundation on Walcott Street, and the Rev. K. Gulovich became their first pastor. Assisting Father Gulovich was the first board of officers, consisting of Joseph Kochman Sr., Peter Paytash, Michael Labanich and A. Slabov.

By 1912, lots on Morris Street were purchased, and the present rectory was built, a large brick, five-bedroom home which would become the residence of priests and their families for the next hundred years.

The present church was erected in 1919, shortly after World War I, at a cost of approximately $30,000 through much sacrifice and perseverance. Some of the officers at that critical building time were Charles Oblivanik, John Federinko Sr., Michael Holowasko Sr, Peter Renskoski and Michael Good.

Throughout the first 30 years of its existence, the following priests served the parish: Rev. K. Gulovich, Rev. K. Kovalycky, Rev. P. Monkovich, Rev. K. Auroroff, Rev. V. Obushkevich, Rev. Z. Chanat, Rev. K. Zabala, Rev. M. Rapach, Rev. J. Loya, Rev. D. Dubay, Rev. Joseph Shakaley, and Rev. Basil Kurutz. In 1934 the Parish was fortunate to obtain the services of Prof. Joseph Simko, graduate of Duquesne University, who assisted Father Kurutz by directing the choir and teaching the parish school. Father Kurutz remained as pastor until March 1940 when he was transferred to McKeesport, Pa. By this time, St. Michael’s Church was a member of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese which was canonically formed in 1938 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Fr. Kurutz was succeeded by Father Andrew Kertis who was transferred from Youngstown, Ohio and appointed pastor by the Most Rev. Orestes P. Chornock who made his first pastoral visit to the Parish on July 4, 1940. Father Kertis was subsequently appointed by Bishop Orestes as Dean of the Pennsylvania Counties of Cambria, Somerset, Westmoreland, Indiana and Clearfield.

In 1943 an honor roll bearing the names of 106 young men of St. Michael’s Parish who served their country was dedicated on Sunday, September 5th. Concelebrating Liturgy with Dean Father Andrew Kertis were Fr. John Miller of Johnstown, Fr. Basil Kurutz of McKeesport, Fr. Basil Huha of Central City, and Fr. John Zeleniak of Ambridge. Ceremonies were also conducted by the local American Legion.

In the next 20 years many improvements were made, including the artistic decoration of the interior by the Bulgarian iconographer B. Naidenoff, and the installation of carillonic bells.

Bishop Orestes visited the Parish in 1965 and blessed a new chalice during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.

The 60th anniversary of the Parish was celebrated on June 11, 1967 with Bishop John R. Martin making his first canonical visit.

In 1987, magnificent new aluminum cupolas were installed and blessed.

On September 16, 2007 the 100th anniversary of the Parish was observed with Metropolitan Nicholas Smisko leading the anniversary festivities.

Most recently, the church building underwent an exterior and interior renovation, and was blessed by His Grace, Bishop Gregory of Nyssa on Sunday, November 27, 2016 in beautiful Divine Services that marked also the Patronal Feast and the 109th anniversary of the Parish.

Additional clergy who have served the Parish were: Rev. Frank Mesaros, Rev. William Conjelko, Archimandrite Nicholas R. Smisko, Very Rev. Robert F. Salley, Very Rev. R. Michael Zak and Rev. Stephen Kundla. In the absence of a resident pastor, Protopresbyter Frank P. Miloro has been celebrating Sunday Liturgy twice monthly since 2015. On alternating Sundays, Subdeacon Len Myers chants the Readers Service for the congregation.