15 May 2010

The Carpatho-Rusyn "Old Country" reconstructed in Chicago in 1937

This 1937 photograph shows a play recreating life in the Carpatho-Rusyn homeland as presented at St. Mary's Greek Catholic Church on 49th and Seeley Avenue in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood.

My father, John Cuprisin, is the third from the right in the back row.

At the left, is Rev. Eugene Bereczky, the pastor of St. Mary's up until the early 1960s. At the right is Paul Kabaczi, the parish's veteran cantor, who served into the 1970s.

Formed by Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants in 1903, St. Mary's closed in 1996, along with St. Mary's, in Joliet. Both parishes merged into the new Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church, in Homer Glen.

Do you have any photographs or other material from the history of Chicagoland's Carpatho-Rusyn community? Let me know so we can collect and share our heritage.

You can e-mail me at lakemichiganrusyns@gmail.com


  1. I believe some of this parish also went to Sts. Peter and Paul at 53/Western, now in Burr Ridge. I've read and heard this referred to as "the Seeley church."


  2. Caye, St. Peter & Paul's was founded by a group of trustees of St. Mary's, and a large number of its original parishioners. I've never heard of St. P&P called "the Seeley Church." That's usually a reference to the original St. Mary's (on Seeley). Where would you have read this?

  3. That's what I mean -- the older parishioners at Sts. P&P call the original building The Seeley Church -- they remember it from their youth and their parent's heyday. I think the St. Mary's website (homer glen) has a reference to the original seeley location.

  4. Your original post was unclear. The church on Seeley (the address is in the first paragraph of this post) was called "Seeley," even by people who didn't leave. I heard many old-timers from St. Mary's refer to St. P&P as "Western," as in, "they go over on Western" to identify which church a particular person attended.

  5. St. Mary's celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1953 and published a well-done history for the occasion. Does anyone out there have an ORGINAL copy perchance?

    John Schweich

  6. I have been scrounging around looking for my family's copy, but I"m afraid it's lost in my various moves... I would be satisfied with a photocopy.

  7. What a wonderful web site and 1937 photo from St Mary's Church. At the turn of the century, my family moved from northeast Slovakia to Pennsylvania and from there to Chicago. After taking up residence on South Side of Chicago, many joined St Mary's parish on Seeley Avenue. Family folklore has it that some of the parishioners of St Mary's didn't like the "western" lean of the Seeley church and decided to establish a more eastern focused place of worship. I have been told that a number of my family members were instrumental in helping to build Sts Peter & Paul's church on Western Avenue. I actually did not know that Sts Peter and Paul’s church was Greek Catholic until I was an adult (and I attended many service on Western Avenue…). We believed our Dad's side of the family to be Russian Orthodox.

    A quick shout out to the web site moderator. Did your family come from Hrabovcik, Slovakia? Our great uncle immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and lived for a awhile in Oneida/ East Union Township, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania with other young men from Hrabovcik, Slovakia include Luke Zavoda, Andrew Czuprisin and Peter Czuper. (Czuprisin strikes me as a variation on Cuprisin). It is my suspicion that many of the folks who eventually became parishioners of St Mary’s or Sts Peter & Paul’s church spent their early days in the USA in the coal mines of western Pennsylvania. What a wonderful tribute this web site is to their bravery and hard work.

    Best wishes

  8. That's right, Hrabovcik is the village of my father's family. My grandfather was Peter "Czuprisin," which was a Hungarian spelling of the family name.

    He never made it to Chicago (elsewhere on this blog site is a story I wrote about my grandfather in April), on the occasion of what would have been my father's 100th birthday.

    But St. Mary's when it was formed in 1905, had emigrants from Hrabovcik among its first families, and, of course, when St. Peter & Paul was formed as an Orthodox church in 1931, some of those Hrabovcik folks moved on there (including part of my own family, although my father remained at St. Mary's.)

    One thing to clarify in your post: St. Peter & Paul, was indeed, Orthodox, but it wasn't Russian -- it was a Carpatho-Rusyn parish, like its predecessor, St. Mary's. If you'd like to communicate personally, feel free to send me an email at lakemichiganrusyns@gmail.com ...

  9. That's a wonderful photo. My husbands mother and father were married at St. Mary's, in 1911 or 1912.

  10. Great picture! My grandparents were married at St. Mary's in 1932 and moved to St. Peter & Paul in 1934. Surnames: Miskiv, Bacha, Kacmar, Piruch. Villages: Vysny Orlik, Hrabovcik.