|The First Churches|
The earliest Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants settled initially in northeastern Pennsylvania in and took jobs as miners in the anthracite coal fields of the region. The emigres, however, soon began to realize that what had identified them, preserved them and sustained them in the “Old Country” and in the long journey to America was painfully missing in their strange, new and difficult surroundings. They had no spiritual home, no place of worship that they could call their own, no church where they could practice their distinctive Greek Catholic faith. Thus, the Carpatho-Rusyn people began to organize parishes, to build churches and to petition for priests to be sent from Europe.
By oral tradition, the first Carpatho-Rusyn priest to come to America was Father Emil (Emmanuel) Burik, who arrived in 1883. Father Burik unfortunately was killed in a train accident in New Brunswick, New Jersey and died on January 17, 1884. Others undoubtedly followed, but little is known of their pastoral activities.
In 1884, the Reverend John Volansky, a Greek Catholic priest from Galicia, answered the call to minister to the newly arrived faithful in the United States. In 1885, Father Volansky organized the first Greek Catholic parish in the United States in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Within a short period of time, Father Volansky’s own pastoral work lead to the establishment of additional Greek Catholic parishes in Freeland, Pennsylvania (1886), in Hazleton, Pennsylvania (1887), in Kingston, Pennsylvania (1888), in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (1888), in Olyphant, Pennsylvania (1888), in Jersey City, New Jersey (1889), in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1889), Whiting, Indiana (1889) and in Passaic, New Jersey (1890). By 1894, with the arrival of additional clergy primarily from the Presov and Mukachevo Eparchies, there were thirty Greek Catholic parishes serving more than one hundred thousand faithful.
As time progressed, more and more Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants would arrive in America. Steadily, they would move ever westward. Their destination was Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio and employment in the region’s steel mills and coal mines. This movement westward lead to the establishment of new Greek Catholic parishes in Duquesne, Pennsylvania (1890), in Leisenring, Pennsylvania (1892), in Cleveland, Ohio (1893), in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania (1893), in Trauger, Pennsylvania (1894), in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (1895), in Braddock, Pennsylvania (1896), in Homestead, Pennsylvania (1897), in Marblehead, Ohio (1897), in Pleasant City, Ohio (1898), in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania (1898), in Charleroi, Pennsylvania (1899), in Pittsburgh (Southside), Pennsylvania (1900), in Windber, Pennsylvania (1900) and in Youngstown, Ohio (1900).