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St. Mary Ramey, PA

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 parish.

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.