North Huntingdon Parish Cantor Retires

George Mihalick Rendered 25 years of Faithful Service to St. Stephen Church

On Sunday, January 31 the parish of St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church in North Huntingdon, Pa. gathered to celebrate the 25-plus years service of their cantor George Mihalick. Mr. Mihalick chanted the 10:30 liturgy and afterward, a reception was held in the social hall to wish the dedicated cantor a happy retirement.

“I am looking forward to participating in the Divine Liturgy as a regular parishioner and attending a full schedule of my grandson’s activities,” says Mihalick.

At the reception, Mihalick was presented with a framed proclamation from Archbishop William Skurla and a beautiful European icon of St. George. The ECF students also made homemade cards to celebrate his well-earned retirement. In making these presentations, parish pastor Father John G. Petro expressed the gratitude of the parish family to George for his faithful service during these years.

Mihalick developed an interest in cantoring as a young boy at his home parish of SS. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic Church in Dunlo, Pa. “My grandfather was the cantor and I always enjoyed participating actively in the liturgical chant,” recalls Mihalick.

He began his vocation as a high school student, which transitioned into leading the congregation solo. Many significant changes have come about during Mihalick’s tenure including: converting the liturgy from primarily Church Slavonic to English; introducing Presanctified Liturgies as a common practice; and introducing St. Basil’s melodies into regular usage. Mihalick has also had to adapt to a number of changes that have occurred within our liturgical texts.

Over the years, he supplemented his training by participating in the Metropolitan Cantor Institute of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. In the institute, there has been a concentrated effort to upgrade and standardize the liturgical singing of the plain chant tradition in our church. This training has allowed Mihalick to maintain those standards at St. Stephen’s.

Mihalick says, “Leading the congregation in the prayerful dialogue with God using our collective voices in song is one of the things I have most enjoyed during my time as cantor.”