Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral Munhall, PA

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Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral

210 Greentree Road

Munhall, PA. 15120 Get Directions
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History

In 1894, only a scant two years after the infamous and bloody confrontation between striking Homestead millworkers and Pinkerton guards, the Carpatho-Rusyn community in Homestead began to meet and to discuss the formation of their own Greek Catholic church. After nearly two years of organizational activities, their efforts to form a Greek Catholic church in Homestead finally were successful. Father Irenaeus Matyaczko celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Homestead’s “National Hall” and assumed the pastorate of the fledgling Greek Catholic community. In less than four months, the new church – a modest frame structure measuring 32 feet by 64 feet – was completed. In January 1897 the new church officially was chartered and dedicated as St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church.

On March 25, 1900 Father Alexius Holosnyay, a newly arrived emigré from the Muka?evo Eparchy, came to Homestead and agreed to become pastor, the parish’s fourth in four years. Father Holosnyay’s presence seemed to provide the missing ingredient for the struggling parish and thoughts soon turned to the building of a new and larger church. In the summer of 1902 two lots were acquired on the corner of Tenth and Dickson Streets in the newly created Borough of Munhall for the new church. Finally, on December 27, 1903 the new St. John’s Greek Catholic Church, a building whose towering twin steeples bore a striking resemblance to Holy Cross Cathedral in Užhorod, Subcarpathia-Rus, was solemnly dedicated at the elaborate ceremonies presided over by Co-Adjutor Bishop Regis Canevin of the Pittsburgh Roman [Latin] Catholic Diocese.

Under Father Holosnyay’s pastoral care, St. John’s Parish continued to grow spiritually and materially. Several large tracts of land were purchased for a parish cemetery. In addition, a large three-story building was constructed near the church as a meeting hall and “Rusyn School” for the parish’s children.

In October 1924 the parish authorized its lay leaders to offer land and financial assistance to Bishop Takach if he would locate his episcopal residence and chancery near St. John’s. Bishop Takach accepted the parish’s generous offer and designated St. John’s as his cathedral.

The Cathedral Parish’s spiritual and material progress came to an abrupt halt in the early 1930s. The Great Depression caused severe economic hardship for the parishioners. More unfortunately, a bitter and divisive battle for spiritual and temporal control of the parish erupted. Although Bishop Takach’s authority over the Cathedral eventually was restored, the conflict left the parish materially exhausted and spiritually demoralized. With Father Holosnyay’s retirement, the seemingly insurmountable task of healing the parish’s wounds fell upon the shoulders of Father George Michaylo, who became rector on August 4, 1936.

Father (later Monsignor) Michaylo’s personal intervention brought many individuals and families back into the parish fold. In addition, Msgr. Michaylo undertook many initiatives to invigorate the parish spiritually, socially and financially, including the opening of a parochial school staffed by the Sisters of St. Basil the Great. After 18 years, Msgr. Michaylo’s remarkable pastorate ended when he was named Rector of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary.

Msgr. Nicholas T. Elko succeeded Msgr. Michaylo as rector of the Cathedral in September 1954. Little less than three months later, Msgr. Elko was named Apostolic Administrator of the Pittsburgh Byzantine Catholic Exarchate and ordained as a bishop. Msgr. Elko’s successor, Father George Bonchonsky, served as rector until 1956 and was succeeded by Father John Pipik.

During Father Pipik’s pastorate, the parish began the immense task of renovating and modernizing the Cathedral. While the lengthy renovation progressed, liturgies were held in the school auditorium. Msgr. John Gernat, who served as rector from November 1, 1959 to September 26, 1963, eventually completed the renovation of the Cathedral.

Msgr. John Bilock, the Cathedral’s tenth pastor, succeeded Msgr. Gernat in October 1963. Under Msgr. Bilock’s energetic leadership, St. John’s Cathedral began to host a weekly radio broadcast of the Divine Liturgy, paid off its longstanding mortgage and renovated its many properties and buildings. On March 8, 1973, Pope Paul VI appointed Msgr. Bilock as Auxiliary Bishop of the Pittsburgh Archeparchy.

Msgr. Judson Procyk then became Rector of the Cathedral on July 18, 1973. As rector, Msgr. Procyk had the vision and foresight to plan for and oversee the complete relocation of the parish to newer and better facilities. In 1978, the parish acquired 18 acres of property off Greentree Road in Munhall. On August 3, 1980 Archbishop Stephen Kocisko broke ground for the construction of a large social and activities center.

In November 1981 St. John’s Cathedral Center was opened. With the hard work and unselfish energies of many volunteers, the Cathedral Center quickly became one of the premier locations in the Pittsburgh area for wedding receptions, banquets and other social functions.

When the debt on the Cathedral Center finally was retired, the parish set its sights on achieving the ultimate goal of Msgr. Procyk’s grand vision: a new and magnificent Cathedral church. After years of hard work and financial sacrifice, Archbishop Thomas Dolinay broke ground for the new Cathedral and rectory on July 5, 1992.

On December 19, 1993 the parish closed the Dickson Street church with a farewell Liturgy and proceeded to the new Cathedral for a prayer service. On Christmas Eve, Bishop Bilock, with Archbishop Kocisko presiding, celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in the new church. On June 12, 1994 Bishop Michael Dudick, the Acting Metropolitan (due to the sudden passing of Metropolitan Thomas) and Bishop of the Passaic Eparchy, with Bishop Bilock and Archbishop (retired) Kocisko formally dedicated the new Cathedral.

On February 7, 1995 Msgr. Procyk was ordained and installed as Metropolitan Archbishop in the very Cathedral which he was instrumental in building. Father Robert Karl succeeded Archbishop Procyk as rector. During Father Karl’s pastorate, the parish paid off substantial amounts of its construction debt and gloriously commemorated the 100th anniversary of its founding.

In June 1998 Archpriest John Kudrick succeeded Father Karl as Cathedral Rector.

Father Simeon Sibenik succeeded Archpriest John (who was named Administrator of the Archeparchy upon the death of Metropolitan Judson in April 2001 and later was elevated to bishop and enthroned as the Eparch of Parma) as Rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral, serving for 10 years.

Very Reverend Andrew J. Deskevich succeeded Very Reverend Archpriest Dennis M. Bogda, who fell asleep in the Lord on Sept. 21, 2019, as.Rector of the Cathedral.