Saint Mary Byzantine Catholic Church Trauger (Latrobe), PA

Contact Details

Address

Saint Mary Byzantine Catholic Church

4480 Route 981

Trauger (Latrobe), PA. 15650 Get Directions

History

In the late 1800s, many Carptho-Rusyns immigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the coal fields of western Pennsylvania. They brought with them their traditions, customs, and their Catholic faith according to the Byzantine Rite of Constantinople. St. Mary Church was founded January 1, 1894 under the leadership of Reverend Stephen Dzubay. The first place of worship was a hall in Calumet, Pa. prior to the construction of the Trauger church.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted a charter to the Greek Catholic Church in Trauger on April 8, 1896. On May 4 of that year, the parish purchased one-half acre of land on which was built the first church. Actual construction
began in May 1897.  In a few months, the new church was completed. It was a neat wooden building housing the church and a small social hall. In the hall, the priest and cantor taught the traditions of the faith and the chants of the Divine Liturgy to the young parishioners. During the early 1900s, St. Mary @ The Pokrov (Protection) @ parish even had a full time school. Once the church and hall were completed, land at the top of the hill above the church was purchased for a cemetery.

As the number of faithful increased, it became evident that a larger church building was needed. In October 1912, another half acre of land was purchased. Construction on the current edifice @ a large brick building in the Spanish Renaissance style @ was begun with the cornerstone being blessed on August 16, 1914.

Years of harsh weather took its toll on the numerous high steps that led to the entrance of the church. As the deterioration continued, the exterior of the church had to be renovated in 1960.  A new retaining wall was constructed and steps were installed on each side. A tunnel was built as an entrance to the basement of the church. Renovations also were completed to the interior of the church.

On August 5, 1962 ground was broken on the property across the road from the church for an educational and recreational center. St. Mary Center, which was completed in September 1963, still serves as the hub of parish and
community activities.

In 1965 numerous fundraising activities were held in the Center – bingos, dinners, hall rentals, and catering. With the funds, the parishioners were able to put a new roof on the church, repaint the interior of the building, place a large granite
Byzantine cross in the cemetery, and pay the mortgage of the Center in full.

In the years 1998-99, under the guidance of Father Christopher Burke, a major restoration of the church interior was undertaken in order to restore it to its authentic Byzantine appointment: an iconostasis (icon screen) was erected, and twelve very large festal icons of the liturgical year now adorn the Christ and Theotokos outer walls of the church. The ceiling portrays the Old Testament prophets, framed by the four evangelists, and Christ the Pantocrator is in the center. The apsidal icons are in three tiers; the top displays the Theotokos of the Sign; the middle shows the angelic Great Entrance; and the bottom manifests Christ at the Mystical Supper, feeding first His disciples and then the great patristic saints of the Byzantine Church.