21 February 2011

A Dual Centennial for NW Indiana's Carpatho-Rusyns: Part Two

Original church
(from St. Michael's 50th anniversary history)
The second of two parishes founded by Rusyns in 1911 was St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic (formerly Greek Catholic) Church, originally located in Gary. It's been located in Merrillville, Ind., for nearly 30 years.

Land had been bought in 1909 between Madison and Monroe by a group of that formed the core of the initial parish: Michael Prascsak, John Maszkaly, John Prascsak, Andrew Volcsko, Mike Piatak, Vaszil Majhrowich, Peter Majhrowich, Geo. Kotfer, John Horkavy, John Brugos, Simon Tihansky and John A. Dander.

The parish's history, compiled for its 50th anniversary and graciously supplied by John Schweich, reports that the parish was formally organized in 1911, with Father Basil Berecz becoming the first permanent pastor in April of that year.

He built the first wooden church, which became the parish hall in 1920, when a second church was built.

For the record, St. Michael's wasn't the first Greek Catholic Church begun by Rusyns in Northwest Indiana. That would be St. Mary's in Whiting, which was founded Oct. 1, 1899.

The third church connected to the 1911 settlement of Rusyn communities in Gary is St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, now in Hobart.

It was formed by members of St. Michael's amid the celibacy controversy that hit the Rusyn Greek Catholic Church in the 1930s and led to the creation of what is now the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

The first meeting of the St. Nicholas congregation was Jan. 13, 1935.

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