Alexis of Wilkes-Barre
Our father among the saints ‘‘‘Alexis of Wilkes-Barre’’’ was missionary priest, send from his homeland in Slovakia as a Uniate, who in order to serve and protect his flock in the United States in a hostile Latin environment recognized the need to lead them in a return to their Orthodox Christian heritage.
Alexis Georgievich Toth, was born to Father George and Cecilia Toth on March 14, 1853 near Eperjes (now Presov) in Zepes county of Slovakia during the reign of Franz Joseph Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. He followed in the steps of his father who was dean of the United Greek Church in the county. He was educated in the local preparatory schools and then went on to the Roman Catholic Seminary for a year and then on for three years to the United Greek Seminary in Ungvar. He continued on to the University of Prague where he graduated with a degree in Theology.
After marrying Rosalie Mihaluk on April 18, 1878, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1878 by Bishop Nicholas Toth, the United Greek Catholic bishop of Presov. In a few years his wife Rosalie, whose father also was a priest, and their only child were to die. After his ordination Father Alexis was an assistant priest in Saros county before becoming the curate in the United Greek Catholic Church in Homrogd. Then Bishop Nicholas Toth appointed Father Alexis his chancellor. In 1881 the bishop appointed him director of the United Greek Catholic Seminary of Presov and professor of Canon Law and Church History. He continued in these position under Bishop Toth’s successor, Bishop John Valyi.
Then late in the 1880s, Father Alexander Dzubay, who studied with Father Alexis in the Seminary, wrote a petition from America to Bishop John asking that Father Alexis be sent to America. The bishop agreed and sent Father Alexis as a “missioner.