St Nicholas Parish of Monongahela, PA Celebrates 100th Anniversary

MONONGAHELA, PA --  St. Nicholas Church in Monongahela, Pennsylvania observed its 100th Anniversary on Sunday, October 2.  The Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Very Rev. Michael Kabel, dean of the Tri-state Deanery; Very Rev. Protopresbyter David Smoley, former pastor; Very Rev. Protopresbyter Paul Herbert; Very Rev. Edward Pehanich, pastor; Rev. Deacon David Rostcheck of the Nativity of the Theotokos Church in Monongahela; and Rev. Deacon Artemius Steinstra of St. Nicholas Church in Homestead.  Responses to the Liturgy were sung by the congregation which filled the church to capacity led by parish cantor Daniel Timko.  Several hymns were sung in 2-part harmony by the parish Youth Choir under the direction of Pani Kathleen Pehanich and Mary Jane Smoley. 

The Centennial Banquet was held following the Liturgy in the Willow Room in Belle Vernon.  Archon Dal Cosgrove was the toastmaster with remarks by Joseph Hann, president of the parish council and Father Edward Pehanich.  The main address was delivered by Father David Smoley, the longest serving pastor in the history of the parish.  Father Smoley reminded the audience that the story of the Monongahela parish is not told by the two church buildings it erected in its 100 years but by its people who faithfully served God and His Church through the years.  Father David shared many personal memories of people whose lives of faith impacted his own priestly ministry and the life of the congregation.  A DVD presentation during the banquet by Derren Lomago presented a montage of photos depicting these people and events of the past.  An extensive Centennial Journal is being prepared by Christine Deutsch and Christina Duranko of the Rankin parish and will be available in November.

St. Nicholas Church was formally established in Monongahela on December 24, 1911.  The original founders of the parish emigrated to America from their native Carpatho-Rusyn villages of Swierzowa Ruska, Dlugie, Radosyna, Vyshna Polianka, Nizhna Polianka, Jedlinka, Mikulasova, Dobova, Mykulivci, Kopynivci, Kal’nik, Chopivcy, Andrijivka, Benedykivic, Ivanica, Novy Davykovo, Velyki Luchky, Brid and Irshava.  Property was purchased on the corner of Sixth Street  and Marne Avenue and a wood frame church was constructed which served the parish until 1960.  In 1962 His Grace, Bishop Orestes solemnly consecrated the parish’s new golden-domed temple which serves the parish till today. 

During its history, the parish endured two unfortunate schisms:  one in 1915 which resulted in the formation of the Nativity of the Theotokos Church and another more serious one in 1964.  This second schism began when the parish priest at that time attempted to place the parish under the authority of the Pope of Rome.  After a two-year court battle the majority of the congregation which wished to remain Orthodox prevailed and peace returned to the parish.  Active Junior and Senior ACRY chapters were formed, a new rectory was built, new altars and iconostas were added.  As the parish received new stability, vitality and growth, much of the credit must be assigned to its energetic young pastor, Father David Smoley who ministered in Monongahela for 28 years.  Along with its sister church of St. Nicholas in nearby Jacobs Creek, the two parishes continue their ministry in the Mon Valley with ACRY chapters, Sunday School classes, Youth Choir and Bible Study.  St. Nicholas is the home parish of Pani Ann (Popovich) Yurcisin, of blessed memory, Pani Jodi (Hann) Moriak, and Sister Agatha (Stephanie Cosgrove) a nun at Panaghia Olympiatissa Monastery in Greece.

View Centennial Photo Gallery Here