31 March 2013

Church Record Sunday: Local Newspapers

When searching for your family, search for the church history as well. Not all churches made the paper often but from time to time, the local newspapers carried information about a church that included family information!

I attend the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Coatesville, PA. Daddy went here until he and mom married and he converted to Catholicism shortly after I was born. His parents were baptized here and married here and were buried here. Their parents all went here as well. My great grandfather's (Panko Hruszczak) uncle and aunt (Onifer & Rose Pomanko) attended here before that. However, we did not all attend the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Over the years, the church itself has changed.

Newspaper accounts from the Daily Local, the now defunct Coatesville Record and Village News all shed light to the parish's history over the years. The Chester County Historical Society keeps clippings of all the churches, surnames, and various other information throughout the county. It is a service one must visit to enjoy but if you are in West Chester, I highly reccommend stopping in.

The parish dates back to 1908 when 25 to 30 Ukrainian families united in worship as a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Four men specifically were instumental in the parish's founding: W. Wolownik, H. Mokry, W. Kozachyszyn, and L. Lukasierircz. At that time we met up on Gibbons Avenue. In 1917 a new church was built in teh 300 block of Charles Street - our current location. On 28 October 1940 the charter of the church was changed to read "Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Holy Ghost of Coatesville, Pennsylvania".

Many articles include various parishoner names as well. In 1958, Mrs. Tekla Patanasky was president of the Sisterhood and Mrs. Mary Maskula was her vice president. The choir director was Professor Theodore Tyminsky. The president of the church committee (as it the board was called) was Joseph Ruczhak (my grandfather). Miss Katie Peck was secretary.

Newspaper articles are only as good and as accurate as the information provided them sometimes. For example, a 1963 article in the Coatesville Record discussed the "50th Anniversary". Fifty years prior would have been 1913. Clearly if the church were founded in 1908, then this would have been the 55th anniversary. The "anniversary" was celebrated by a visit from His Eminence, Archbishop John Theodorovich. Michael Panaski was president at that time.
A collection of articles about incoming and outgoing priests also were available at the Chester County Historical Society. Father Michael Kashuba passed at age 63 while in service here. He was, according to a 1954 article about his passing, born in Turnapal, Galicia.

Sometimes though the people clipping and organizing do not always sort properly so be sure to check other similar folders and information as well. For example, next to the articles on Father Kashuba's (pictured in the middle at left here) passing are articles of Father John Pavlik (pictured on the far left). Father Pavlik was the priest at Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Church but the church was in Philadelphia. The priest in the the far right of the photo here is Father Theodore O. Forosty. He came in 1954 after Father Kashuba passed. Father Forosty was born in 1913 in Western Ukraine, immigrating in 1938. His wife was Anna Czorny Forosty and their three children were: Ariadna, Zenon, and Lydia.

As with any research, not all will be favorable but in a parish that is over a century old, one can expect some rough spots. In 1931 the congregation and the priest - Faher Joseph Dzendzera - has some differences and difficulties that could not be resolved. The priest anded up resigning. Father Peter Dmytryk was sent to replace him.

Despite the sad note concerning the 1931 incident, the information provided in the local newspapers over the years is as invaulable as the church records themselves sometimes when looking at the bogger picture!

Note:
Sadly, I must remind readers that the site is copyrighted and therefore none of the information on here may be used without written permission or properly attributed.

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