CAMPBELL, OH [MW Diocese Communications] -- His Grace, Bishop Mark of Baltimore presided at the celebration of the 95th anniversary of Saint John the Baptist Church here the weekend of October 20 and 21, 2012.
The responses to the Divine Services were beautifully sung by the parish choir under the direction of Dr. Nicola Nicoloff.
During the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy Andrew P. Nelko, son of Archpriest Andrew and Matushka Tanya Nelko, was tonsured a Reader in the Church. Father Andrew was also awarded the right to wear the Jeweled Cross by His Grace.
Following the Divine Liturgy a Dinner/Banquet for approximately 170 was held in the Parish Hall. At the banquet the children of the community offered a song and each organization of the parish contributed to a floral presentation to His Grace.A special thanks to Audrey Chengelis (chairperson) and her committee whose diligent “labor of love” made the weekend memorable.
The history of the parish, as found on the web site of the Orthodox Church in America, reads as follows.
At the turn of the Century life in the Carpathian Mountains area in Europe was very impoverished and when word came that America was a land of freedom and opportunity, many migrated here to the Youngstown area where a new steel mill was in operation and jobs were plentiful.
Those that settled here joined together to form the “St George Society” and this group of people in search for a place to worship petitioned the State of Ohio for a charter to form the “St John’s Congregation of East Youngstown” which was granted on April 20, 1917. A drive for funds was started immediately making possible the acquisition of three (3) lots on the corner of Gordon Ave and 14th St. The construction of a parish house was begun in September, 1917. With the completion of the parish house, Rev Kulchinsky was assigned as the Pastor and the first “Divine Liturgy” was celebrated on March 3, 1918, in the basement of the parish house.
With a roster of about 80 organizers, these quarters soon proved inadequate. With the accumulation of funds through donations, pledges, and loans, the construction of a new hall was started to serve as a temporary church and on September 19, 1918, His Eminence Bishop Alexander dedicated this hall as a temporary Church.
Lots were purchased to be used as a cemetary. Fr Joseph Kreshko was assigned as Pastor in 1919. Fr Isadore Salko assumed pastorate in 1925 and a “Russian School” was organized. The parish outgrew its facilities and classrooms for the education of the youth were built.
East Youngstown was renamed Campbell in 1926 and brought Fr Honchok as pastor. He and Matushka formed the Ladies Altar Society, Church Choir, and the Campbell “R” Club, Chapter 27 of the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs. Fr Michael Kostyk was assigned pastor in 1936. He reorganized the choir, trained choir directors and supplied music for choral response. The use of English in both the worship and instructions started with Fr Michael. The young mothers of the parish organized the Mother’s Club. “Russian School” gradually evolved into a Sunday School program and instructions during the summer were held for Russian language, under the tutelage of George Bobosh, and religious instruction by Fr Kostyk.
In 1947, a Building Fund was established and a special collection was taken once a month. This money was put in escrow to be used only for the building of a new church. On January 16, 1947, Fr Nicholas Vansuch, the first native son of our parish was ordained a Priest. In 1952 the new cemetery chapel was dedicated by Archpriest Joseph Stephanko. In 1955, Fr Gregory Matveychuk was assigned as interim pastor. At this time the practice of honoring Orthodox Graduates by celebrating a Divine Liturgy as a Baccalaureate service was instituted at our church. Fr Yuschak was assigned pastor in the last part of 1955. A five acre tract of land on the corner of Struthers-Liberty Rd and Tenney was purchased as the site for the new church.
In 1959 ground was broken for a new church to cost $180 thousand dollars. The building Committee, with George Libertin as Chairman, oversaw with expert care the entangled stages of the construction period. Fr John Voytilla, the second native son of the parish, was ordained a Priest. Fr Nicholas was assigned pastor and the new church building was completed (1960). Archbishop John of Chicago consecrated the new and lovely dwelling place. The Iconostasis was built by parishioner John Novak and designed by Fr Nicholas. The Icons were written by Andrew Bicenko.
During the 1960’s the cemetery chapel was renovated and the cemetery grounds completely redone. Landscaping around the church was installed with the financial assistance of the Mother’s club and the Campbell “O” Club. In 1967, Fr Eugene Vansuch, the third native son to enter the Priesthood, served his first “Divine Liturgy” here in his home parish. The Icons behind the Altar, Iconography on the wall and the arch over the Iconostasis were all written by Fr Philip Koufas and completed in 1972.
In 1969 Fr John Psinka was assigned as pastor and our progress continued. Fr John instituted a Reader and Sub-Deacon program. The following have been tonsured and serving as Sub-Deacons: Maurice Garman, George Gresko, William Livosky, and Walter Rusnak. Tonsured and serving as Readers are: George Horodnic Jr, Harrison Krenitsky, Dr Nicola Nicoloff, John Zastany, and John Zelina. In 1973, our fourth native son to enter the Priesthood was Fr Dimitri Voytilla. Barbara (Zelina) Matusiak, a native daughter, became a Matushka in 1975 when her husband, John Matusiak was ordained a Priest.
In 1996, Fr John Psinka fell asleep in the Lord and on December 1, 1996, Fr John Steffaro was assigned as pastor. On September 1, 2010, Fr. Andrew D. Nelko was assigned pastor following the retirement of Fr. John Steffaro. When you are in the area please join us for worship and Christian fellowship.
A photo gallery of the anniversary can be found here.