- Church: (724) 465-6738
320 Main StreetErnest, PA. 15739-0130 Get Directions
In 1949 Rev. John Bajcura received permission to build two mission churches from Saint Mary in Homer City, Pa. Holy Cross Church was built in Coal Run and Saint Jude Thaddeus Church in Ernest. When the churches were completed, he would celebrate Liturgy one Sunday a month in each of the Churches. On Sundays when Divine Liturgy was not celebrated, parishoners attended local Roman Catholic Churches or travelled to Saint Mary Church in Homer City.
The first resident pastor was Father George Laskey. Since there was no rectory, Father Laskey resided at the home of a parishioner. During this time, the St. Jude faith community grew and became vibrant with yearly church picnics and dinners throughout the year, along with pirohy and donut sales.
In 1961 a new limestone rectory was constructed next to the church. The sacrifice and hard work of the congregation as well as The Ladies’ Guild successfully paid off the mortgage on the rectory. Four Byzantine-style mosaics also were commissioned from Rudy Roln Studios of Pittsburgh, Pa. and were mounted on each side of the apse in the church. Father Laskey faithfully served the parish for 10 years.
Father Josaphat Popovich, the next pastor, continued building the faith community and activities initiated by his predecessor. Regular charitable undertakings for needy in the local community and especially during the Johnstown flood of 1977 took place. The church served as a donation site with members packing boxes of supplies and clothing for those devastated by the flood. The establishment of a scholarship fund for college-aged students also was undertaken. Yearly scholarships were awarded at a dinner for those honored. During Father Popovich’s tenure, the interior of the church was remodeled, including painting, carpeting, new altars and the construction of a breezeway connecting the church with the rectory. A kitchen directly below the breezeway was constructed to prepare church dinners, and an outdoor statue of Saint Jude was installed on the front lawn of the church property. After serving faithfully for 20 years, Father Popovich retired.
Afterwards, a number of priests were assigned. Father Edward Pyo, Father James Ragan, Father Leo Schlosser, Father Simeon Sibenik, and Father William Lascelles served the needs of the parish as the demographics of the church as well as the economy in the surrounding areas changed. The priestly administrators of St. Jude Church at various times also served other parishes including Dormition of the Mother of God, (St. Mary), Sagamore Pa; St. Anne, Clymer, Pa; Holy Cross, Coal Run, Pa.
In 2010 the church of St. Jude Thaddeus was remodeled to conform to Byzantine Liturgical requirements. Included in the renovation: interior painting; carpeting; installation of an icon screen (utilizing the original 4 mosaics); an icon of Christ, Pantocrator, mounted in the apse; new Holy Table, Table of Preparation, Diaconic and Tetrapod. Oak for the new furnishings was recycled from pews salvaged from the now closed St. Mary Church, Sagamore. Several other icons have been added, including a mosaic of our Mother of Perpetual Help. The former rectory now serves as a parish community center where meetings, parish social and educational activities take place.
The faith community of St. Jude supports ECF (Eastern Christian Formation) and Adult Education programs, Bethany Ministry, Parish Advisory, Altar Servers, Lectors and very proficient cantors, as well as a number of charitable undertakings. Under the patronage of Saint Jude, the Byzantine Church in Ernest continues to grow in faith, membership and dedication.
Presently, Father Jerome G. Botsko is the administrator assigned to serve St. Jude Thaddeus Church. He is also resident pastor of St. Mary Holy Protection Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer City, Pa.