(814) 736-9780 Portage
Priest: Very Reverend James A. Spontak
Deacon: Deacon Daniel F. Perich
Stewart StreetBeaverdale, PA. 15921-0619 Get Directions
The Byzantine Catholic people truly had difficult beginnings when they immigrated to America. They came to establish a new life of hope, a new life of living and a new life of freedom of faith. Because they settled in the coal regions of Pennsylvania, they naturally found their work in the mines. A new language, education and lifestyle were some of their hardest difficulties. In spite of these trying conditions, they had faith and hope, working and praying in the traditions brought with them from their native Eastern Europe.
Beaverdale, Pennsylvania, a small town in the mountain region, had become a new home for many Eastern Europeans. The surroundings were ideal because they were so much like the mountains they had left behind in the “Old Country.” Still, there was an incomplete joy among the Byzantine Catholics: there was no house of praise for them to worship God in their beloved tradition. Plans were made and in December 1906 the cornerstone for a new house of worship was laid. When the new church was completed, it was dedicated to the Patronage of the Mother of God.
Even with a new church, a scarcity of priests only added to the difficulties the community had to face. Without a resident priest and lacking transportation, long walks (about 9 miles) to liturgical services and to receive the Holy Mysteries (sacraments) at St. Michael Byzantine Church in South Fork, Pa. became a part of many of their Sundays. These people wanted and needed a priest of their own to serve and administer locally to their needs.
St. Mary’s remained a mission church to St. Michael at South Fork until 1919 when it became a mission church to SS. Peter and Paul Church of Portage, Pa. It finally became a separate parish in 1921 under the pastoral care of Father Elmer Berecky. In 1924 Bishop Basil Takach appointed Father Igor M. Mackov as pastor, and under his direction, a parish house and cemetery were purchased.
Between the years of 1947-57, a new heating system, pews, interior renovation and a 20-foot extension were added to the church. Subsequently, the church was completely renovated. A new main altar, side altars and murals were installed. The outside of the church was covered with aluminum siding and the ordinary panes of glass were replaced with stained glass windows, depicting the various Byzantine saints.
Over the years, St. Mary’s was fortunate to be served by many dedicated priests, and continues to flourish to the present day.