Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church

Ambridge, Pennsylvania

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Early Beginnings

The first religious effort for Ukrainian people in our area was the establishment of the Saint John The Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church on the Southside of Pittsburgh. The Southside church  became the place of worship for all immigrants in the surrounding area until such a time as the various localities could support their own church.

As the Ukrainian population in Ambridge, Pennsylvania increased, it was not long before they yearned for their own Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Early in 1907 a small group of Ukrainian catholic men took the initiative and contacted Rev. Stefanowych of Saint John The Baptist Church for assistance and advice in the matter: and zealously pursued their dream for a Ukrainian Catholic Church of their own in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Instrumental in this endeavor were John Klein, Michael Rodeo, Michael Wuycik, Anthony Podufaly, Michael Nyzynkewyck, and Paul Serednycky.

The enthusiasm and generosity of our people was overwhelming. By July of that year, enough money had been offered to begin plans for buying an existing building which was available, or erecting a new one as a place of worship in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

A decision was made to purchase from the Methodists a church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania and three adjoining lots. The brick church structure, which faced 6th Street, was located in an area now partially occupied by our present Ukrainian Catholic Church. The total cost of this property was $6000. A down payment of $2300 was made with an agreement to pay an additional $1375 on November, 1907. The balance of $2325 was mortgaged. Upon completion of the business transaction, our people of Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church of Ambridge, Pennsylvania finally had a place of their own to worship and they immediately named it Greek Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul of Ambridge, Pennsylvania. They now lacked, however, a permanent priest.

Making it Our Own

Over the next few years, the parish prospered as more Ukrainians came to America and settled in the Ambridge, Pennsylvania area.

Soon, concerted efforts were made to change the interior of the former Methodist building into one resembling a Ukrainian Catholic Church. At this same period, the name was again changed, this time to Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul of Ambridge, Pennsylvania. As the Ukrainian population continued to grow rapidly, it became evident that a larger place of worship would be needed. In 1914, successful bidder was chosen for erecting a new Ukrainian Catholic Church at the cost of $20,286. Again, because of the hard work and dedication of the parish, the new Ukrainian Catholic Church and alter were blessed and dedicated on Labor Day of 1917. More than half the total cost for this structure was already in the Ukrainian Catholic Church's treasury, again reflecting the extraordinary generosity of the parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul. At last our people of saints Peter and Paul had a permanent place of  worship, a place which still stands today as a symbol of their and our continued dedication to God.

Growth and Development

No new major undertakings occurred until 1926 at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church. At that time, under the spiritual leadership of Very Re. John Ortynsky, 10 acres of land were purchased for our cemetery. Dedication again prevailed as the parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul provided the manual labor to clear the land and make it ready for burial purposes.

In 1927, the bells were purchased and named Peter, Andrew, and Basil, resounding gloriously to announce the beginning of divine liturgy, or tolling sadly for the passing of one of our own at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church of Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

In September 1940, the Reverend Alexander Krochmalny was named pastor for Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church. Although he wanted to begin construction of a new parish school for the parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul, unforeseen circumstances delayed the construction for 10 years. With the conclusion of World War II, plans to build the school resumed. Since the school would be built on the site of the rectory, a new rectory was constructed as well. On November 2, 1952, Bishop Ambrose Senyshyn participated in the blessing of the new school. which remained viable until 1977. Alumni of the special school can surely recall many of the Sister Servants of Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church who dedicated the time, patience and love toward educating their students in not only their school work, but also in laying a strong foundation for moral standards and ways to help others throughout their lives. It is to their credit that the school was so successful.

Through the years, attendance grew steadily at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic school so that by 1960, enrollment of 285 students was reached. The number of Sisters had by then increased and several Lay teachers were also added to Saints Peter and Paul school. With the increase, there came an apparent need for a convent, which was erected on the property next to the school. All of these projects were accomplished in a time period spanning 15 years since the inception of the school.

One of our greatest contributions our Ukrainian Catholic Church can be proud of is the numerous parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul who have dedicated their lives to religious life. Among them  are Msgr. Emil Manastersky, Rev. Roman Galadza, Rev. Peter Galadza, Rev. Bohdan Hladio, Rev. Peter Waslo, Sister Thomas (Hrynevich), Sister Tharasia (Hladio), Sister Paraskevia (Duda), Sister Barbara (Stafaniak), and Sister Bernita (Dub).

The next major undertaking for our parish at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania occurred in 1979 with the renovation of the interior of our Ukrainian Catholic Church, under the direction of the pastor at the time, Rev. Michael Nestor. Among the renovations were a new  iconostas, refurbished stained glass windows, new icons, and the front of the church extended to enclose the front steps. In 1987, the bells were removed from the towers, which were decaying, and placed in a newly constructed bell tower along with a carillon.

Under Rev. Nestor's leadership, many additional improvements were made to Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. The cemetery of Saints Peter and Paul was renovated, with the addition of a new cross, a memorial to the war dead erected, and the paving of the road. Various projects were also successfully initiated with the help of dedicated parishioners, including weekly bingo, raffles, and the pirohi kitchen. All of these added to the sense of community throughout our parish at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church.

After nearly 18 years of service to our parish, the now Monsignor Nestor retired and Rev. Michael Polosky was named Administrator in January of 1995 at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Since that time, several programs were begun or renewed. A youth group, SPAPY, was formed. A program of trained and installed lectors was initiated. Adult education on a regular basis was begun. Renewal of the acolytes was continued. And plans to fulfill a project begun by Msr. Nestor, the building of a cemetery chapel, were now well underway.

In addition, our parish was blessed with the addition of an assistant pastor, Very Rev. Alexander Ganzy in January of 1997. Parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul both young and old are as always actively participating in the many fine organizations and ministries -the Holy Name Society, Apostleship of Prayer, Marian Guild, and CARESS- established by the parish in a spirit of fellowship and cooperation.

It is again through the dedication, service, generosity, and faithfulness of the parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul in Ambridge, Pennsylvania that we will continue to serve the Lord and each other for the next 90 years.


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Created on January 1, 2001