St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Home Page
Notes from St. Nicholas
Schedule of Services
Directions to Church
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese































St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Home Page
Notes from St. Nicholas
Schedule of Services
Directions to Church
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese































St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Home Page
Notes from St. Nicholas
Schedule of Services
Directions to Church
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

 





The center of our Christian worship is the parish. It is here that we come together to celebrate the events of our Saviour Jesus Christ in our own lives. Here we celebrate the Liturgy and are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ. Here we receive His forgiveness. Here we are Baptized and Confirmed in His Name. Here our marriages are blessed. From our Church we are buried in hope of the Resurrection of Christ. These events not only mark our lives, but also lead us to a Christian understanding of life. This short history will be a journey through over 70 years of Christian life of the people of God at St. Nicholas in Homestead.

The people of Homestead in the early 1930s were no different than those of the surrounding area. Many came to this country with little more material possessions than that which they wore. They brought with them a zeal, determination and strength of faith that would not be denied. Because of the large concentration of Greek Catholics in metropolitan Pittsburgh, a diocesan see was formed around the area. Homestead having the largest number and being a central location was accorded the honor of being the Cathedral. In 1930 a young priest named Peter Molchany was assigned as assistant pastor. He was well liked by the people. In December 1931 when a disagreement with the Bishop resulted in Father Molchany being suspended, a court injunction by the Diocese was obtained barring the majority of the who supported Father from the Church.

The Christmas of 1932 found the people celebrating the Holy Feast in the Carnegie Library Auditorium. This place, however, was not to remain as a home for very long. A gift of brotherly love was extended to the people by the Rev. George Sutton and the Vestry of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church. Through the generosity of the people of St. Matthew's, the newly formed St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Association was able to begin a new era. Mr. John Herack was chosen to continue leading the people of this new congregation. Through his early encouragement a search for a permanent "home" was begun. After a short time Mr. Herack was succeeded as leader of the congregation by Mr. George Billy. Mr. Billy was responsible for leading the parish to the site it now occupies.

On March 15, 1936, Mr. John Pido, on behalf of his mother, Mrs. Anna Pido, Mr. Grucelak and Mr. Herack put up $1,000 each to secure property which would become the future church site. They worked with Mr. Billy and Mr. Frank T. Sturek, a friend of Father Molchany's, to secure the estate of the late Nettie D. Stroud located on the corner of 9th Avenue and Ann Street. Through the generosity of these people a place of worship was founded. A spirit of love, cooperation, and giving was necessary to begin the parish as it was literally founded without a dime, It was often the practice of the parish to go from home to home collecting money so that the Church might continue.

November 16, 1936 was to be a day that was long remembered by the people of the parish. On this date a service was held and the ground was broken for the new Church. In the traditions of the Church, Father Molchany dug into the ground and Mr. Andrew Banyas of the building committee turned the first shovel of earth. After this a steam shovel on 9th Avenue owned by the McCrady-Rodgers Construction Company under the direction of the general Contractor, William B. Hartley Construction Company, removed several more shovels of earth to symbolically begin the excavation of the Church. To save on the cost of construction, men, women and children helped to pour some of the concrete and worked at other small jobs.

In January of 1937, the Church was ecclesiastically organized. Chosen as the first president of the newly recognized was Mr. John M. Romanchuk. Mr. Romanchuk and the officers of the Church worked hard to complete the building, but it was often a slow task as the finances dictated how far and how fast they could proceed at a given time. By November 14, 1937, however, a new parish home was completed., In the meantime, work continued on the basement of the church.

A little more than one year after breaking ground, the Courts officially recognized St. Nicholas Parish. On November 19, 1937, a charter was issued to the parish. This was followed on November 25, 1937 by a spiritual chartering as the cornerstone was laid by the Rt. Rev. Administrator Orestes P. Chornock. This first Divine Liturgy was served in our new house of worship on February 26, 1938.

Before work could be started on the upper portion of the Church, the Great Depression worsened, and it became impractical to continue with the "upstairs". It was often difficult to find enough money to pay the bills, and at one point the creditors lost faith in the people. They had the Courts place a lien against the Church and put it up for sheriff's sale. However, the faith of the people never waivered, and with the guidance of God, many mortgaged their properties to save the Church. Often small penny bingos and bake sales were held to raise money for the Church. Many risked all that they had in order to save this House of the Lord. Today, how many of us would have the courage and conviction of faith to accept the challenge to struggle as our forefathers did to save the Church.

It did not become any easier for the people of St. Nicholas to continue, for in December of 1941, the United States entered World War II. Many sons of the parish were called to serve their country. Six young men from the parish lost their lives during World War II. Those who returned added strength to the resolve of the parish to complete the Church structure.

The Church leadership had once again changed and Mr. Michael Puchy, Jr. was elected parish president. Under the guidance Mr. Puchy and the Church board of directors, the finances of the parish began to grow. The combination of the desire of the people to have a proper Church and the more stable financial status, led to the signing of a $153,866 contract in 1949 with the Clement Martin Construction Company. Work began once again in earnest on September 12, 1949. The parish gained new strength and conviction as the Church proper began to rise above the tops of the buildings of Homestead.

A great desire was expressed that this should be a truly outstanding example of the love and dedication of the people to their God. To this day, a trio of magnificent stainless steel domes and three bar crosses stands as a shining beacon to all who enter the Homestead area. The stainless steel used in the domes came from the Homestead Mill as a result of the efforts of Mr. Michael Puchy. It was the first time stainless steel was used in this type of structure. The interior of the Church was as richly appointed as finances would allow. Many hours of hard work by the parish family were needed to help reduce the cost to complete the project. On June 18, 1950, the first carillonic bells were dedicated as a result of a generous donation of $1,500 by Miss Julia Pillar.

Sunday, July 2, 1950 was a warm sunny day as His Grace Bishop Orestes Chornock was led in procession around the newly completed Church. The dream of the people had finally become reality as Bishop Orestes blessed and sanctified the building and the grounds. Following the solemn blessing of the Church, a banquet was held in the Church auditorium to honor the many people who gave so generously of their time, money and labors to the completion of the building.

Because of the limited funds, the interior of the Church was not to be fully completed for another eight years. During this time, the walls of the church were painted and the traditional decorations applied. Banners were purchased, and the remaining liturgical appointments were secured. The final piece needed to complete the beauty and solemnity of the Church was the design and building of an iconostas and altar. A heirarchical blessing of the newly redecorated nave, the recently completed iconostas and the altar was held before Bishop Orestes celebrated the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, May 18, 1958. Following the blessing a banquet was held in the auditorium.

The next major accomplishment of the parish occurred the following year when the mortgage on the church was paid. A banquet was held on Sunday, June 21, 1959 to celebrate the burning of the mortgage. This was a proud day as it signified the end of the struggles that plagued the early development of the church.

November of 1962 saw the parishioners beginning to look to the future. The house behind the church was purchased from Mr. John J. O'Donnell for the sum of $30,000. Several thousand dollars more were spent to renovate the building which was to serve as a home for the parish Sunday School.

Tragedy struck the American people on November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. As the country and the parishioners of St. Nicholas watched in disbelief on November 25th the young President was laid to rest. Unknown to the faithful and Father Molchany, a fire began to smolder in the alter boys sacristy. The efficient and swift work of the Homestead Fire Department prevented extensive destruction of the church. The fire had destroyed the sacristy and its contents, but the only damage to the sanctuary was a slight scorching of the side altar. The fire left a lot of smoke and water to be cleaned from the nave of the church.

Early in 1966 the state of Pennsylvania had proposed the building of a new state highway through the Homestead area. Several plans fro the path of Route 837 were proposed. One of these proposals called for the building of the highway directly through the church. With the possibility of the church having to be relocated, the offer of a tract of land adjacent to the cemetery property in West Mifflin was quickly accepted. Shortly after the acquisition of this land, the state decided to leave the road location as it was. To this date the property has been left undeveloped.

By late 1966 it became apparent that the building housing the Sunday School was in very bad condition and would need to be replaced. Where there is faith, there is a solution to every problem. The people were rewarded for their faith when in October the apartment building next to the Sunday School was offered to the church for $50,000. The parishioners were able to tear down the old house and convert the area into a badly needed parking lot.

The Homestead parish was extremely honored when on October 6, 1966, Rt. Rev. Bishop John R. Martin, a son of the parish, was consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese. In honor of this occasion, a homecoming banquet was held on December 10, 1966 for Bishop John and the other parish sons and daughters that were serving the Diocese.

Much work was needed to prepare the apartment building to become the new home of the Sunday School. It took several months and $30,000 to complete the renovations. On Sunday, May 8, 1968, Bishop John R. Martin blessed the newly renovated interior of the church and dedicated the Bishop John R. Martin Sunday School Building.

The carillonic bells which sounded so beautifully for many years had broken down and had to be replaced. The new system was blessed by His Grace Bishop John on December 21, 1969. Following the Liturgy, a banquet was held in honor of the new bells.

After serving the parish for thirty years (1941-1971) as president, Michael Puchy retired. The impressive list of accomplishments he compiled during his tenure will remain as a benchmark of success for all those who follow him.

Succeeding Mr. Puchy in 1971 was Michael Urban, Sr. In 1973 the interior of the church was again painted. The pews which had been used since early 1938, were replaced with new ones. New padded kneelers were also added. Carpeting was also installed for the first time. In 1985 a contractor was hired to clean the exterior of the church and coat the brick with silicon. During preparations for the 50th anniversary celebration, the church interior was again painted to beautify it for this historic occasion.