Saint Mary’s Holy Protection Byzantine Catholic Church Homer City, PA

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Saint Mary’s Holy Protection Byzantine Catholic Church

279 Yellow Creek Street

Homer City, PA. 15748 Get Directions
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In 1918, enough Byzantine Catholics had settled in the area around Homer City that Father Constantine Auroroff was able to organize a parish. Prior to that, they had traveled to the nearest churches, St. Mary in Bradenville (20 miles) and SS. Peter and Paul in Punxsutawney (33 miles). On September 14, 1918 – the Great Feast of the Holy Cross – a parcel of land was purchased on Yellow Creek Street. Two days later, some 50 families hired a contractor to build a church. On February 24, 1919, the charter of incorporation was drawn, and one year later, Father Andrew Koman was appointed the parish’s first pastor.

The rectory, a former farm house, was one of the oldest in Homer City and by 1964 was in dire condition. Mr. John Flinko, a local contractor and member of the parish, was hired to build a new rectory alongside the church and completed it in 1964. Unfortunately, Father John Bajcura and his wife Pani Olga, after serving the parish faithfully for some 30 years, were only able to occupy the new rectory for about six months until ill health necessitated his retirement.

From 1968 until the present, there has been an active ECF (Eastern Christian Formation) program at St. Mary’s. Although there is no longer a choir, one part-time and two full-time cantors enrich our liturgical celebrations.

On May 8, 1988, the parish broke ground for a new church building and attached a social hall. The church was completed in time for the Paschal Divine Liturgy and Resurrection Matins on the night of Great Saturday, March 25, 1989, which also coincided with the Great Feast of the Annunciation that year. Since then, a new altar and tetrapod, a baptismal font, numerous icons, and other appointments have been added to enrich our worship. St. Mary’s has two weekend Liturgies and celebrates all of the Great Feasts and some of the lesser on weekday evenings.

In 1990, the interior of the former church was renovated and the two floors were divided into a total of eight classrooms to provide space for the religious education of the parish youth.

In 2002, the mortgage on the new church was paid off, but expenses always remain. In the summer of 2008, a gas well was drilled below the parking lot, supplying all of the heating needs for the church and rectory, and provides a modest income in royalties. The hall is used by both Weight Watchers and Aging Services and also serves as a polling station during elections. For the last few years, it has also hosted a successful basket party and flea market. Last but never least, the parish kitchen crew is kept busy several times a year making nut rolls to supplement the church income.

The dream of the founders has become a reality. With God’s help, the present community of believers will continue to be a beautiful presence of the Light of Christ as lived through the Byzantine Christian witness to the surrounding area.