Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church Avella, PA

Contact Details

  • Rectory:

    412-713-4520 (cell)
    Administrator: Father Vasyl Symyon

Address

Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church

176 Cross Creek Road

Avella, PA. 15312 Get Directions

History

Already chartered as a corporation in Pennsylvania, the “Russian Greek Catholic Church of Avella” purchased a parcel of land from the Pittsburgh and Southwestern Coal Company. This property, located in Cross Creek Township on the Avella-Atlasburg Road, was conveyed to the Church on November 1, 1919. With the acquisition of a loan and other personal funds contributed by the founders, the church was built. Father Valentine Staurosky became the first resident pastor.

The parish struggled through a coal strike in 1927 that crippled the financial ability of the community. Because they were unable to support a resident pastor, Father Andrew Dzmura traveled from Canonsburg to assume the spiritual needs of the community from 1927 to 1932. The Great Depression followed. It was often impossible for a priest to travel for Sunday Liturgy, so the faithful would assemble in church to worship God by praying the Sunday Matins.

Despite some trying economical times, through the years the congregation experienced tremendous growth. People from nearby Burgettstown and other areas came to worship at St. John’s. By 1957, the church had purchased land for a cemetery, with 10 acres designated as the site of the church. This new church was dedicated on May 13, 1962 by Bishop Nicholas Elko.

Father George Evancho was assigned to the parish in 1968, and during his tenure a mortgage-burning banquet was celebrated in the church social hall. Since then, various interior renovations and upgrades have been made, and spiritual, social and educational programs continue to be implemented and conducted under the direction of St. John’s current pastor, Father Vasyl Symyon.

In recent years, a Lector Program has been instituted in the parish, and many parishioners now have the opportunity to read the Scriptures during services. In addition, the parish has ECF (Eastern Christian Formation) classes, an Altar-Rosary Society and Men’s Clubs. St. John’s also takes great pride in having two cantors to lead the congregational singing for divine liturgies.