Saint Michael’s in Frackville Celebrates Centennial

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On November 21 Saint Michael’s in Frackville, PA celebrated its 100th anniversary. The parish was established in 1921 by settlers from Western Ukraine and remains vibrant today. Saint Michael’s is served by pastor, Father Petro Zvarych, and Deacon Paul Spotts. 

“It is a beautiful tradition of faith here in the coal region. In a 20-25 mile radius there are 12 Ukrainian Catholic churches, including the first organized Ukrainian Catholic parish in the US – Saint Michael’s in Shenandoah,” noted Matthew Kenenitz. 

Metropolitan Borys Gudziak concelebrated the festive liturgy with Father Zvarych; Father Mykola Ivanov, head of the South Anthracite Deanery; as well as priests who previously served at the parish. In attendance were parishioners and faithful, some from the Deanery and others from elsewhere in the Archeparchy.

Archbishop Borys addressed the people gathered in the church during his homily. “What a joy to be here with you to celebrate 100 years of God’s gift and the legacy formed by you and your ancestors. Every time you walk into this, you are touched by the Lord’s grace.”

He stressed that although the church has the most exquisite iconography by Christine Dochwat, the most prominent icons are the people. 

“The most important reflections of God’s presence on this earth in every community are the people. They are living and walking icons of the Lord–those walking together, those sharing service and love, those living according to the beatitudes, those giving life, those sharing joys and giving each other comfort at moments of sadness. That is life in Christ as a Gospel community: when we sustain each other, when we feed the hungry, when we console the despondent, when we give hope to those in despair. It is the beauty of the Church and the quality of the relationships that we celebrate today,” said the Archbishop.          

Many vocations have come from the Frackville parish. Deacon Paul Spotts is among them. “Saint Michael’s is the parish I grew up in. My whole life has been spent in Saint Michael’s. The parish–this is us. We do not have many parishioners, but we are a faith-filled community. We enjoy being together,” he shared after the celebration.    

 “I see the church continuing to grow. We have a good backbone for the church, many good parishioners. The Spotts family does a great job with catechism lessons for the children and youth,” noted Michael Halupa, who has served as the parish cantor for 35 years.    

Jay Evans is of Scottish descent yet works as the church’s secretary. Together with his wife he is involved in many parish activities. “I am an adopted Ukrainian. In 1974 I married a Ukrainian girl, and her family was among those who organized the parish. The people here were always open and welcoming, and they allowed me to be one of them.” 

Jacqueline Peleschak is of Polish and Italian descent; she also came to the parish through marriage and became deeply involved. “We make perogies and we just love the parish.”

Priests who formerly served at the parish–including John Seniw, Roman Pitula, and George Worshchak–came to Frackville to share in the celebration with the parishioners.

 

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