Parish History

In 1906, a group of Russian-speaking immigrants in the vicinity of Mount Carmel, PA identified the need for a place to worship Our Lord. A brotherhood dedicated to St. Michael was organized and filed Articles of Incorporation on August 21, 1907 as the Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox of St. Michael Archistrategos Aid Society of Mt. Carmel, PA. This organization contacted the Chancery in New York about building a house of worship. In 1907, with the blessing of the hierarchs, construction of St. Michael’s Church began as part of the Russian Greek Orthodox Church of North America. The deed for the land on which the church and rectory were constructed was purchased from George W. Bedall and recorded on November 18, 1907. On April 23, 1908, the church was Incorporated as a Non-Profit Corporation as the Russian Greek Orthodox Church of St. Michael of Mount Carmel, PA. The construction of the church was completed in 1908.

The parishioners wanted to have a place to bury the members and in 1909, the church purchased land on Merriam Mountain from the Reading Coal and Iron Company. This location has served as St. Michael’s Cemetery since 1909.

With the assistance from local businessmen and reassurance from the community, St Michael’s began a sound basis by forming organizations, including: a church school, Russian school, programs to help immigrants learn the English language, and several choirs that often performed at various locations, including Bucknell University.

In 1917, the financial situation became critical, but under the spiritual guidance of its pastors, with free-will contributions from the faithful and the support of the hierarchy, the parish soon overcame its difficulties. Sometime after the financial recovery, the parish constructed a rectory for the pastor adjacent to the church. In 1922 the church interior was remodeled with icons on the ceilings and walls by the iconographer V Rozedelski. The icons were restored by a local iconographer, George McFee,prior to the 50th Anniversary celebration in 1958.

Photo of cross marking Father Dedick's grave site.

Cross marking Father Dedick's grave site.

One of the longest serving pastors of St. Michael’s was the Right Reverend Andrew P. Dedick, who became pastor in 1938 and remained at St. Michael’s until he fell ill in 1967. During that time Father Andrew and Matushka Anna became truly the “Father and Mother” of the parish and were endeared not only to the congregation but to those of other denominations in the community. They cared about the parish and the people and were driven to educate the parish in Orthodoxy. Several parishioners remember the rectory as a second home where families spent evenings visiting with Father and Matushka. Under his influence, the church property received many renovations, including modifications of the domes to place three stainless steel crosses. In addition, vestments, vessels, and new icons were acquired. A large granite cross was erected at the parish cemetery, the location where Father and Matushka were laid to rest in honor of their work. Father Andrew Dedick was well known for his writings and prepared many articles for the local newspaper. He also prepared and issued educational pamphlets in both Russian and English languages. Many years ago he translated the Gospel lessons into modern English. His Year Books were informative and received recognition from many. He was honored for his literary work with a Certificate of Acknowledgement from the U.S.A. Congressional Library, Washington, D.C. Father Andrew is the only clergyman buried at St.Michael’s Orthodox Parish Cemetery located on Merriam Mountain. Matushka Anna Dedick is also buried next to her husband located directly below the foot of the cemetery cross. The parish continues to maintain a landscape area around their graves to show appreciation for their spiritual leadership while at St. Michael’s.

Very Reverend Claude Vinyard became pastor of St. Michael’s in 1967 and remained with the parish until 1979. During that time they started Sunday schools for the children. Matushka Francis annually organized Christmas caroling for the children to visit those in homes and the hospital and emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. In additional, there were annual Christmas plays and activities throughout the year that involved not only the children but the entire parish. Father Vinyard had educational classes for the Orthodox middle school children when their Roman Catholic classmates attended Catechism on Tuesdays.

Church construction photo

Renovation of the domes in 1951.

In 1970, the Orthodox Church of America was formed under a Proclamation of Autocephaly and separated from the Patriarch of Moscow. During this time, St. Michael’s parish became a part of the Orthodox Church of America.

During the 1980’s St. Michael’s had several pastors including: V. Reverend Joseph Martin (Dean of the Frackville Deanery), V. Reverend Michael Lepa, Reverend Samuel Garula, and Reverend Thomas Kulp. In 1980, a new altar and proskomedia table were donated to St. Michael’s; these were consecrated during a service led by His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Herman. Clergy around the area participated.

In 1988 the V. Reverend Michael Evans became pastor and served until October of 2013. In July, 1988, a contract was awarded to Michael Kurtz and Son Construction to refinish the entire church. The following year, a contract was awarded to Rudolph N. Rohn Liturgical Designers to write 44 icons in soft Byzantine style. An icon of Saints Peter and Paul was also dedicated in honor of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Centralia, PA, which was forced to close in 1985 because of a mine fire that impacted the entire community. The blessing of the new icons took place on September 28, 1991. His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Herman presided together with area clergy.Several smaller icons were later added by Chris Mathias, a parishioner, and Mark Sassani.

Shortly after the new icons were blessed, Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Mt. Carmel, a short block away from St. Michael’s, was destroyed by fire. St. Michael’s parish gave the old iconostasis icons to the parish to use in their temporary location. Their new church has since been dedicated.

Photo of donations to the community

Donations for the community

In 1994, St. Michael’s domes were repainted for the first time since they were modified in 1951, prior to the parish’s Golden Anniversary in 1958.In 2006, prior to the 100th Anniversary in 2008, the domes were painted again along with the entire exterior of the church.

On October 1, 2012, St. Michael’s amended the Articles of Incorporation, and as of the date became known at St. Michael’s Orthodox Church.

Since the retirement of Archpriest Michael Evans in October of 2013, visiting clergy were supplied by the diocese. On July 13, 2014, Father Theophan Mackey was assigned as pastor of St. Michael’s. The parish welcomed Father Theophan, Matushka Kristi, Maya, and Kyra to St. Michael’s. Father Theophan has been promoting the education of Orthodoxy and offers classes to adults and children.

Photo of donations to the community

Iconostas.

St. Michael’s had at one time 300 parishioners and currently has 50 parishioners. While the parish is small, we are determined to grow and increase our activity in the community once again. We are driven to spread Orthodoxy and provide education to the faithful.

We strive to be an active part of the community and we have supported numerous charitable causes for many years, including the victims of a Union National Bank fire which left many people homeless. We currently provide assistance to the local food bank and other charities. Often we share tables and other items with surrounding churches, recognizing the importance of working together to support Christianity.

We pray that we will continue our efforts to proclaim the Holy Gospel of Our Lord in our surrounding area in this and future generations.

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Founders of St. Michael's Parish

First Church Committee:

Justin Homiak, President
Michael Rusin, Treasurer
John Buranich, Secretary
Luke Worobel, Collector
Adam Leschinsky, Collector

First Church Trustees:

Michael Bodack
Alexi Hrabsky
Jacob Yavorsky
Stephen Fedock
Jacob Broda
Michael Onuscanage

Pastors of St. Michael's:

Rev. Basil Rubinsky1907 - 1908
Rev. Elias Klopotowsky1908
Rev. Jacob Korchinsky1908
Rev. Joseph Dankevich1908 - 1909
Rev. John Olshewsky1909 - 1911
Rev. Nicholas Belozoroff1911 - 1912
Rev. Alexei Bodziuk1912
Rev. Joseph Stephanko1912 - 1913
Rev. Dzwonchik1913 - 1914
Rev. Niciphor Samoseyko1914
Rev. Paul Chervinsky1914
Rev. Joseph Dzwonchik1914 - 1915
Rev. John Soroka1915 - 1917
Rev. Anthony Repella1917
Rev. Peter Karel1917 - 1922
Rev. Basil Fekula1922 - 1936
V. Rev Joseph Fedoronko1936 - 1938
V. Rev Andrew P. Dedick1938 - 1967
V. Rev Claude Vinyard1967 - 1979
V. Rev Joseph Martin (Dean)1980
V. Rev Michael Lepa1980
Rev. Samuel Garula1981 - 1984
Rev. Thomas Kulp1984 - 1988
V. Rev. Joseph Martin (Dean)1988
V. Rev. V. Rev. Michael H. Evans1988 - October 2013
Visiting ClergyNovember 2013 - July 2014
Rev. Theophan MackeyJuly 2014 - December 2014
Visiting ClergyJanuary 2015 - May 2015
Rev. John EdwardJune 2015 - June 2017
Rev. Ignatius HunterJuly 2017 - Present