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history
  • Church Records

  • Old World/ Background

  • New World/ Background

  • Carpathian Churches

  • American Churches

  • Unlike other ethnic group members, our ancestors, most of whom entered America as Greek Catholics, had no established religion waiting to offer support and guidance in the new world. A deeply spiritual people, they immediately, no matter how poor, began to save money to found churches and to bring over their priests.

    When the immigrants' Greek Catholic priests presented their credentials to the appropriate Roman Catholic bishop, the response was a rejection of this "foreign" church with its strange language, Eastern observances, married clergy and laymen ownership of church property. While each parish has a different story to tell of its history in America, many were affected by the work of a Greek Catholic priest, Father Alexis Toth. When rejected by the Minneapolis bishop John Ireland, Father Toth handed over his parish to the only Russian Orthodox see in the United States at that time.

    Father Toth later came to Pennsylvania and is credited with encouraging 25,000 Carpatho-Rusyns who had entered America as Greek Catholics to become Russian Orthodox. Four-fifths of "Russian "Orthodox parishioners were not Russian, but instead, Rusyn. Many of these were of Lemko ancestry.

    With Father Toth's leadership, Holy Resurrection Church (now Holy Resurrection Cathedral) in Wilkes-Barre became the first of the Pennsylvania churches to become Russian Orthodox. Eventually thirty parishes in the Eastern United States became Orthodox, seventeen of these in Pennsylvania.

    Seven centuries with primacy in Constantinople, over two centuries under Rome and then "back to Orthodoxy" in the New World. Greek Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches, with very little differences in their beliefs and rites, would continue for decades with discord and competition for Christian souls.



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