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St. John the Baptist Cathedral (Mayfield, Pennsylvania)

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'''St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral''', located in Mayfield, PA , is one of the oldest Orthodox Churches [[church]]es on the east coast and is currently under the [[jurisdiction ]] of the [[Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia]], operating under the [[Old-Style Julian Calendar|Old Calendar]].
== The Beginnings of the Church , 1878-1907 ==
The earliest beginnings of the [[cathedral ]] date back to the 1878 to the early 1880s with the arrival of Carpatho-Russian immigrants from the western part of Galicia , known as Lemkovstchina. These early settlers possessed a deep religious feelings and desired to [[worship ]] in their own church. As a result, they began holding services in the Stec home, located directly behind the present church. Shortly thereafter, they rented an inactive [[Baptist ]] church and immediately converted the interior to resemble an Orthodox Churchchurch.
In 1888, the Brotherhood of Saint [[John the Baptist ]] was organized. With an inordinate amount of support and encouragement from the growing congregation, plans were implemented to build a new church. This initial building was a wooden frame structure and was constructed in 1891. This church was located on the corner of Hill and Maple Streets in the geographic center of town at the cost of $6,500. The original name given was the Russian Greek Catholic Church of Saint John the Baptist.
The early immigrants in Mayfield were a very enterprising people. As a result, by 1896, the faithful had built a parish home and school building, which also contained a social center for church affairs. The people totally supported a priest and a choir-master, the latter of which also taught religious classes. The peoples' foresight and energy are exemplified by such accomplishments as the establishment of a food co-operative store, the parish drum and bugle corp, boy scout troop #85, a library, the Russian Hose Co. (present day Mayfield Hose Co.), and many other organizations.
Toward the turn of the century, more Greek Catholic churches were founded in the area. As a result, the initial apathy of local [[Roman Catholics Catholic]]s evolved into overt hostility against these Christians of the [[Eastern RiteCatholic|Eastern Rite]]. The Roman Hierarch hierarch demanded that the faithful of Saint John's adopt a new charter and sign their property over to the Roman Catholic Church. The parishioners vehemently resisted these pressures and became determined to reunite with their the Orthodox faith that they did not realize they had left.
In 1902, Fr. John Olshevsky petitioned [[Archbishop ]] Tikhon (now Saint [[Tikhon of Moscow]]) to accept them under his [[omophorion ]] (spiritual protectorate). By 1903, the parish was officially accepted into the Orthodox Church by the celebration of a hierarchal [[Divine Liturgy ]] with Archbishop Tikhon.
In 1905, the parishioners of St. John's played an integral role in establishing Saint [[Tikhon's of Zadonsk ]] [[Monastery ]] and Orphanage in South Canaan, Pennsylvania(later the site of [[St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, Pennsylvania)]]. For In the ensuing years, the parish was a prime financial supporter of the monastery and the orphanage, as well as offering food to help sustain the inhabitants. During those years, many parishioners would walk the distance of approximately 13 miles for pilgrimages from Saint John's to Saint TikonTikhon's. This same walk was done in May of 1980 by some forty plus clergy and parishioners from St. John's to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the monastery.
On [[January 7th7]]th, 1907, Saint John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church was officially chartered in the Lackawanna County Court. Soon thereafter, St. John's was honored by being chosen as the site of the first Orthodox All-American [[Sobor ]] (council). This historic event was held from February 20-23 of 1907 and was presided over by Archbishop Tikhon.
== The Early Years 1908-1950 ==
During World War I, the faithful actively participated participated in the Red Cross as well as many other war-time charities. More significantly, many of the parish's young men were called to serve in the United States Armed Forces, and subsequently sent overseas during the war years. Three parishioners gave their lives in the service of their country. Their names were Michael Tomasky, John Kulenych, and Aleck Hrapchak. All of blessed memory.
As time passed, throughout the 1920's, the spiritual flock of Saint John's Church grew in leaps and bounds with families increasing in both size and in numbers. By the late 20's the original wooden church, now almost forty years old, was no longer adequate as a house of worship, and the need for a larger structure became apparent. In 1930, the old church was moved onto Maple Street and was still used for the cycle of services until the new church could be completed. The structure was to be constructed of steel and brick and was to be adorned with five cupolas at a cost if $64,692. To adorn the interior for Orthodox worship, the faithful raised and spent an additional $20,000. Aside from the fact that none of these people were wealthy, all was accomplished during the height of the depression. This makes the feat all the more impressive.
On Sunday, [[February 22]], 1933, Matins [[matins]] was served in the old church for the last time. This Matins matins service was followed by a procession in which the clergy and parish faithful removed vital liturgical articles so as to serve the first Divine Liturgy in the new church.
The church was ultimately consecrated on [[September 4th 4]]th (Labor Day), in 1933 by the Rev. Bishop Adam (Phillopovsky), under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Antony (Krapovitsky) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, as noted on the official document of the Act of Consecration. Prior to moving into the new church, the iconastas [[iconostasis]] was dismantled in the old church and re-assembled in the new church (It it had been hand-carved by Mr. Dzubinsky, one of the early immigrants during the early 1980's). The Though the old church was almost entirely dismantled, but a small portion was kept intact, and added onto the Kurlick home , which stands until today at the southwest corner of May and Maple Streets.
During the 1940's the faithful of Saint John's satisfied the debt they had incurred to build the new church and celebrated the burning of the mortgage. There again, many young men of the parish were called to serve their country during World War II in the United States Armed Forces. Among those who gave their lives: Constantine Dorish, Michael Chilek, Stephen Hrapchak, Paul Lawbosky, John Karliak, William Kulick, Alexander Kuzmack, John Oleynik, Andrew Bolash, Michael Hanchak, Stephen Demchak, Stephen M. Liptak, Paul Soroka, John Krisa, Peter Hladick, and Gregory Guzey, all of blessed memory.
To this day, Saint John's parish remains a sister parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, under the presidency of His Eminence Metropoliotan Laurus and Bishop Gabriel as Vicar Bishop. For over a decade, Saint John's parish has been blessed with growth of an unprecedented rate.

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