Cathedral celebrates 125 years


by The Byzantine Catholic
Archeparchy of Pittsburgh

On Sunday, June 26, the parish family of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, Pa. celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding.

The celebration began with the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla and concelebrated by Very Rev. Andrew J. Deskevich, Cathedral Rector and Rev. Thomas Dansak.

A festive lunch was served in the Cathedral Center following the Divine Liturgy.
The parish was founded on Jan. 16, 1897 building its first church on Third Avenue in Homestead, Pa. The new church would be named after Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Greek Catholic Union Lodge 26 in Homestead.

The tiny church at 521 Third Ave. would only prove to be a mere way station on the journey of faith of St. John’s Parish.

With immigration from the “Old Country” still in full swing, St. John’s Parish continued to steadily increase in membership.

In 1902, the parishioners began fund raising to build a new church.

Two lots on the corner of Tenth Avenue and Dickson Street in the newly established Borough of Munhall were acquired to build the second church.

The new church building with its two large steeples would bear a striking resemblance to the cathedral church of Diocese of Mukačevo in Užhorod.

On June 14, 1903 the cornerstone was laid. On Dec. 27, 1903 the new church was solemnly dedicated.

The parish steadily grew and in 1924 with the establishment of the Pittsburgh Exarchate by Rome, St. John the Baptist was designated as the Cathedral.

The parish suffered through the 1930 schism that affected many of our parishes. A parochial school was opened in August 1936.

The church underwent a renovation in 1958 to 1959. The parish would continue to thrive during the next 20 years through the various parish and school activities, liturgical, social and fund-raising.

In the summer of 1979 the parish began preliminary plans on the construction of a social center for the Parish on Greentree Road in Munhall.

The ground-breaking for the new St. John’s Cathedral Center occurred on Sunday, Aug. 3, 1980.

The new St. John’s Cathedral Center was formally blessed and dedicated on May 23, 1982. After 10 years of successful fundraising, the parish broke ground for a new Cathedral and rectory to be constructed on the same property.

On Sunday, June 12, 1994, the new Cathedral church was solemnly blessed and consecrated.

In its 125 years, St. John Parish has been served by 16 priests, 13 of which served as Cathedral rectors.

Parish vocations included eight priests and three sisters. In the 125 years, 17 cantors have served and three presently serve in the parish.