Saint Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church Perryopolis, PA

Contact Details

  • Church: (724) 736-4344
  • Rectory:

    Pastor: Rev. Oleh Seremchuk

Address

Saint Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church

102 Railroad Street

Perryopolis, PA. 15473 Get Directions

History

When the Slavs settled in Fayette and surrounding counties of Pennsylvania at the turn of the 20th century, their numbers became a source of security and comfort. Praying to God became a source of solace. They did not dread traveling a distance to a place of worship. Some walked as far as 13 miles to St. Stephens Greek Catholic Church in Leisenring, which had been founded in 1892 by Father Alexander Dzubay. This was the first Greek Catholic church west of the Allegheny Mountains. Later, it was arranged for Father Dzubay to come to Star Junctions public school to hold Divine Services once a month. This continued until 1911 when a group of parishioners met to legally form the St. Nicholas parish in Perryopolis.

The decision to build a church created a controversy over the site. Should it be located in Star Junction, Perryopolis or Whitsett? Perryopolis ultimately was selected and property was purchased from parishioners on May 10, 1913 for the sum of $2,800. It consisted of a house and three lots at the corner of Liberty and Railroad Streets. In May 1917 construction of the new church began. During this time, services were held in the parish house and later in the basement.

The parish officially was incorporated as the Greek Catholic Church of St. Nicholas on September 6, 1920. The name of St. Nicholas was selected for several reasons. St. Nicholas is the patron of many Slavs, particularly the Rusyns. A mine explosion occurred at the Darr mine in nearby Jacobs Creek, killing 239 coal miners. This disaster happened on the Feast Day of St. Nicholas (December 19, 1907, according to the “old” Julian calendar). The memory was still vivid that many of the church members lives were saved because they stayed away from the mine that day to attend church.

The church is constructed in the form of a three-bar cross facing eastward. “Onion” domes with three-bar crosses stand atop three towers. The main tower houses three bronze bells. The largest bell, named St. Nicholas, weighs 1300 pounds and rings the musical pitch of G#/Ab. The middle bell, named St. John the Baptist, weighs 550 pounds and rings the musical pitch of C. The smallest bell, named St. Michael, weighs 250 pounds and rings the musical pitch of D#/Eb. The interior of the church has a central crystal chandelier which was imported from (then) Czechoslovakia.

In 1965 a new rectory was built. Approximately 20 years later, the men of the parish built a picnic pavilion. The present church property consists of the church, rectory, picnic pavilion, picnic area, parking lot, three lots behind the church and the cemetery property.

St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church of Perryopolis was placed in the National Register of Historical Places on November 7, 1997. The National Register recognizes the historical, architectural or cultural merits of properties.