Parish History of St. Mary’s Annunciation
Ukrainian Catholic Church, Ramey, PA
(Source: Program Booklet: 75th Diamond Jubilee 1893-1968,
September 16, 1968)
Our founding fathers and pioneers arriving in America had to overcome and
surmount great difficulties. There were many obstacles and barriers thrown
in the path of their progress. There was persecution and pressures by other
nationality groups who evaluated our immigrants as their inferiors. Indeed,
our pioneers had a tremendous monumental task in overcoming such hardships,
bigotry and discrimination.
They succeeded because of their patience and exemplary family life. They loved
America, their adopted land, and respected its laws. They were an honest, hard
working people and earned their bread and butter by the sweat of their brows.
At the earliest possible time, and within the time allowed by the laws of the
land, they eagerly applied for and received their naturalization and citizenship
papers. They were a God-fearing and law-abiding people. They came to this country
with a deep-rooted religion and faith. They brought with them many customs,
culture and traditions, which, when blended together, helped make this land
the Melting Pot of the World.
The early history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States begins
with the day the first Ukrainian Immigrants set foot on the shores of America.
Ukrainian immigration can be placed about the year 1870, shortly after the
Civil War but did not begin their sizeable immigration into America until 1890
and this immigration reached its high tide between 1905 and 1914.
Religion and Church were an integral part of these immigrants. Transplanted
into a foreign land the immigrants were orphaned without their own Churches
and priests. In 1884 they requested Metropolitan Sembratovich to send them
a priest. The Metropolitan's reply to this request was immediate. He designated
Father Ivan Wolansky to be the first Ukrainian Catholic priest in America.
With this advent into the United States the story of Ukrainian Catholicism
in America begins to unfold.
By the Grace of God and the zeal of men of goodwill, the founding of St. Mary's
Annunciation Ukrainian Catholic Church took place in 1893. As the influx of
immigrants gathered in Ramey, Smithmill and Beccaria areas, being deeply attached
to their native Ukrainian Byzantine Rite, they wanted to continue worshipping
God in their own churches. So they took upon themselves insurmountable tasks
of building and maintaining St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church. In 1893 a
lot was purchased for the proposed wooden church and actual work on the church
began. The first newly built Church was attended, after its completion, by
the Reverend Stephen Gulovitch, from 1893 to 1895.
Father Gulovitch was succeeded by the following priests who worked diligently
to stimulate the parishioners to work for the common good in the newly erected
Church: Rev. Antin Hodobai, 1895; Rev. Stephen Polansky, 1897; Rev. Gregory
Kutchetsky, 1900; Rev. Peter Poniatyshyn, 1903; Rev. Oleksa Pelensky, 1908;
Rev. Wasil Hrevnak, 1909; Rev. Ivan Goidetch, 1910.
The Rev. Peter Luchetchko carne to this parish in August, 1910. As a result
of increased membership in our parish, considerations were undertaken to replace
the small wooden Church for a new and larger Church. On July 18, 1911, father
Luchetchko, with his committee consisting of Dmytro Bungo, Joseph Yaleczko
and Michael Haman signed a contract with Gaetano Tiracordia, Contractor of
Madera, Pa., for the erection of the present stone Church. The total cost of
the present Church upon completion was estimated at $30,000.00.
During the time of the construction of the present Church, fire broke out
in the small wooden Church in 1912. With the wooden Church completely destroyed,
services were conducted in the present parish hall until the completion of
the new Church in 1914.
Father Luchetchko was succeeded by the following priests who are well
remembered for encouraging the parishioners to work for charitable and nationalistic
causes: Rev. Basil Merenkiw, 1912; Rev. Nicholas Zaklinsky, 1913; Rev. Vladimir
Ulanitsky, 1913; Rev. Antin Ulanitsky, 1915; Rev. John Kutsky, 1916.
In August 1919, the Rev. Michael Pasdry was assigned to this parish. During
his pastorate a crisis developed with the Cantor, Joseph Yaleczko. The conflict
reached such proportions that it resulted in a court trial. Following a decision
of the court, numerous followers of Joseph Yaleczko separated themselves from
this parish and established the present St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Church,
Janesville, Pa. Father Pasdry was succeeded by a number of priests who remained
in the parish for relatively short periods of time. Their names were Rev. Peter
Sereda, 1921; Rev. Stephen Waschishon, 1922; Rev. Nicholas Strutynsky, 1923;
Rev. Nestor Dimitriw, 1924; Rev. Peter Saloviy, 1925; Rev. Vladimir Kozoriz,
1925; Rev. Vladimir Tytar, 1927.
The Rev. Joseph Dzenzera was assigned to this parish in April 1931. During
his pastorate the first parish rectory was completely destroyed by fire on
April 6, 1932. The priests' residence was transferred temporarily to the present
parish hall until the erection of a new rectory. Father Dzenzera was succeeded
by Rev. Stephen Malaniak, 1932 and Rev. M. Nasveschuk, 1935.
The Reverend Onuphry Kowalsky was appointed as pastor of St. Mary's Church
in July 1937. He had served in this parish for a total of 20 years. Father
Kowalsky was a warm, personable human being who was well loved by his parishioners
and many friends in the community. It was during his assignment here, that
Father Kowalsky built the present parish rectory and garage in 1941. He organized
the Marian Sodality, Ukrainian Youth League and the first Altar Boys in the
The Rev. Jeremiah Onupherko succeeded Father Kowalsky in 1957 and worked diligently
to raise funds to paint the interior Church. In 1963 Father John Malaschuk
was appointed pastor of this parish and it was during his pastorate that he
organized the present Altar and Rosary Society.
With the appointment of Rev. Jaroslav Fedyk to this parish in September 1964,
many improvements were carried out. Accommodations for rest rooms in Church
basement; new rain gutters installed, storm door and windows installed in Rectory,
and organized the Holy Name Society.
It is under the direction of our present administrator, Rev. Frank Patrylak,
that many outstanding improvements were initiated. Over a period of two years,
our pastor had the following renovations and improvements carried out: Re-roof
the parish Church; install aluminum siding on bell tower; renovate Church basement
for meeting hall and classroom; renovate Iconostas and interior Church; reinforce
and install new Church windows; reconvert from coal to an oil heating system;
renovate steps of Church and Rectory; cemetery improvements including grading
of new road and perpetual care; purchase of four lots for parking area; organize
the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and reorganize the Altar Boy Society.
The following church organizations have given invaluable service to
this point: The Altar and Rosary. Society, The St. Josaphat's Society, Sodality
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Altar Boys' Society.
May the future of this parish of St. Mary's Annunciation Ukrainian Catholic
Church hold for the parishioners as many blessings as they have enjoyed in
the past. This parish has been established for the greater glory of God and
the salvation of our souls. We must remember that this is our goal, this is
what we are working for day after day. If we cooperate in all respects both
spiritually and financially, then the good Lord will reward us all generously
for what we have done.