Cleveland University St. Wendelin Church history

Holy Ghost Greek Catholic (Now called Byzantine Catholic) Church

April 9th, 2008

holyghostbyzantine2420w14th.jpgSouthwest corner of Kenilworth and W. 14th Streets. 

At the turn of the 20th century, both before and after 1900, waves of immigrants from the Carpathian Mountains of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in east Slovakia, West Ukraine, Southeast Poland and the northern tip of Romania and still with no country of their own), followed Irish and German settlers to the Greater Cleveland area.  These people are not Slovak, Ukrainian, Russian, or other ethnic group.  They are a separate ethnic group and founded a number of churches in the Cleveland area, both Greek Catholic and Orthodox. ***More about Rusyns and Carpatho-Rusyn churches will be written on this website.

Finding work in the steel mills and industries centering around the “Flats”, these Ruthenians (known more correctly as Rusyn - not Russian -) immigrants next turned their thoughts to establishing places where they could worship in accordance with their Byzantine Catholic heritage.

By 1909, two Greek Catholic (now called Byzantine) churches had been established in Cleveland, but many parisioners were forced to travel across the Cuyahoga River and the railroad track to attend liturgies on Sundays and holydays.  Before this time, Reverend Emil Burik, who was then pastor of St. John’s Church on Scovill Ave., obtained episcopal permission to meet with prospective parishioners for a new West Side church.  On October 8, 1909, Holy ghost Greek Catholic (now called Byzantine Catholic) Church was granted a charter by the state of Ohio.

Services were temporarily conducted at the “Star Turn Hall” and the property on West 14th Street and Kenilworth Ave. was soon obtained for $17,650.00  On February 6, 1910, Very Reverend Stephen Jaritzky dedicated the cornerstone of the handsome yellow brick building which had cost $15,000 to build.  Later, twenty-one acres of cemetery land were obtained in Parma, Ohio for $6,000.

In its beginning, the parish numbered fifty families, but within ten years, that number had risen to four hundred.  It was at this point in time, 1918, that Rev. Joseph P. Hanulya, author and expert in Canon Law, was assigned to Holy Ghost, where he remained until his death in 1962.

An Orphanage was established in 1918 to provide for victims of the great influenza epidemic of that year.  Holy Ghost became the first U. S. Home for the Sisters of St. Basil the Great, who staffed the orphanage until its closing in 1923.

Time brought many changes.  Several property purchases were made in the early 1920’s, with a view to building a school at some future date.  Copper, three-star crosses were installed on the church towers in 1924 at the cost of $200.00 and in the same year the now priceless wooden iconastas (Icon Screen), was made in Budapest, Hungary for $6,133.66 and later assembled on its present site.

During the following years, parish children came to the church basement daily after their regular school sessions, for instructions in religion, rite and the Ruthenian (Rusyn) language.  Later, violin classes were added to the schedule.  By 1938, Holy Ghost had grown to nearly nine hundred families and some one hundred and fifty of these formed St. Mary Church on West 35th St., now State Road and Biddulph Ave.

New lighting fixtures, pews, nand Italian marble altars freshened the look of the Church’s interior for its rededication on September 11, 1955.  Warm colored painting on the walls and ceilings brightened the interior nave and the church exterior was sandblasted and landscaped for the occasion.

On February 17, 1957, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for an educational facility to be built on the church property across from the church on the northwest corner of Kenilworth and W. 14th Streets.  The school was dedicated on October 19th, 1958 and had its first graduating class in June of 1960.

Some three thousand souls were nurtured by Holy Ghost at the time of its Golden Jubilee celebration in 1959, but the area’s changing neighborhood and the exodus of many parisioners to the suburban areas, soon began to take their toll.  By the mid-sixties, preparations were underway for the building of a new church on the grounds of the cemetery.  Holy Ghost school was sold to provide funds for the new undertaking.

When Holy Spirit Church on West 54th Street was dedicated in 1969, many families decided to remain with their old beloved parish.  The existing rectory was torn down to provide a parking lot for parisioners since the former schoolyard was no longer available, and the former convent became the new rectory.

In February of 1969, a crisis arose when one of the church towers blew down during a storm.  Luckily there were no injuries, but there were no funds available at the time to repair the damage.  For this reason the other tower was removed and the crosses were set upon the sealed apertures.  Enough money was eventually raised to undertake the monumental task of restoring the towers.  In November of 1978, the ancient copper crosses were replaced on shining new stainless steel domes.  Several years prior to 1984, wooden altars replaced the older marble ones and the interior of the church was cleaned and the art work painted to restore it to its former beauty.

Most recently this beautiful church is seeing the effects of an aging and dwindling congregation.  These Greek Catholic (Byzantine) churches are in communion with Rome.  They recognize the Pope as the head of the church.  On another note, the church welcomes people of all faiths to its beautiful liturgy.

Information coutesy of Holy Ghost Greek Catholic (Byzantine Rite) Church’s archives. 

Entry Filed under: Churches

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dorothy A. Fink  |  October 8th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I’m looking for the gravesite of my infant uncle -
    Joseph Sajna. He was born to Suzanna and George Sajna, in 1909, and died the same year. These were Greek Catholic people, living in Cleveland and belonged to St. John’s on Scovill Avenue.
    Can you help me? Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.

  • 2. MM  |  November 8th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    If Dorothy Fink will contact me at , I have the information she needs about the Sajna family. I have Joseph’s death certificate as well.

  • 3. Rebecca Buck  |  December 2nd, 2009 at 10:38 am


    I would l ike to contact you as well. George Sajna was, I think, my grandmother’s cousin and I am trying to find information about his wife’s mother, possibly Anna Chegin. George’s daughter Mary Andreski visited our family in Marblehead, Ohio - my mother is 94 and sometimes unclear about all of the relationships.

    Thank you so much,


  • 4. Deborah Carter (Burik)  |  February 11th, 2010 at 11:28 am


    I’m just beginning putting together my family tree and I was hoping you could provide some material of history. My Great Grandfathers are Rev Joseph Hanulya and Rev Emil Burik.

    Thank you in advance.


  • 5. Kathleen Wanek  |  April 9th, 2010 at 6:39 am

    I wonder what is going to happen to Holy Ghost since services ended on November 1, 2009. My grandfather helped build this church.

  • 6. Dean K  |  December 10th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I am researching my family and found that my grandparents (on my Father’s side) had a stillborn baby girl Lizzie Kresila. Her death certificate says the undertaker was Frank Marek and the burial was at the “Russian Cemetery”. I know that the Harvard Avenue cemetery was once know as the Old Russian Cemetery, but they could not find any information on baby Lizzie. Any one have any knowledge of a “Russian Cemetery”? I found one in Marblehead, Oh. but it list 36 interments and her name is not on the list. I still believe that she was buried at the Old Russian Cemetery now known as Harvard Avenue Cemetery. That was about where my grandparents lived at the time. The burial was in Nov. of 1923. HELP !!

  • 7. Phyllis Skrysak  |  January 29th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Would you happen to know if the Benzie family attended this Church? Katie Benzie died in Nov 1930 and her death certificate says she is buried in Holy Ghost (I believe it says that-hard to read). Mike and Katie Benzie had moved their family after 1920 to Cleveland, Ohio from Pennsylvania. They were immigrants from Mokre, Powiat Sanocki, Gmina Zagorz, Subcarpathian or Podkarpacie Voivodeship - Austria/Poland. They were Ruthenians. Should I get in touch with the Cemetery to see if she is buried there and maybe even her husband and some children who died young? Thank you!! Phyllis

  • 8. janice (kusner) petrenko  |  June 6th, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I have been trying to find out more about my fraternal grandfather who had been an active force on the building and acquiring of funds for the Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Church in its infancy. According to family tales he was on the Board of Directors of the Church. He lived on Auburn Ave. and his name was Peter Kusner. Peter had a wife, Suzanne and children Mary,John, Anne,Helen,Mildred, Elizabeth, a baby (Elizabeth who died in infancy) and George ( my dear father). I have vivid memories of Rev. Hanulya coming to my grandfather’s house and visiting with the family often. My grandfather passed away in 1963 and is buried at the cemetery on 54th street in Parma.

  • 9. Judy Bunasky  |  September 24th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    My husband’s grandparents were married by Rev Emil Burik on Feb 10, 1908 but it doesn’t say where on the Marriage Record. Does anyone know where (I know it was Cleveland) he would have been during that time period and how I could find more about that ceremony than what was on Familysearch? I am in Tennessee and hope that someone who is more familiar with Cleveland can help me with my search. The family name on the marriage record was Joan Kaluscsak and Catharina Oso. Their names were actually John Haluszchak and Katherine Osho but I know it is the right people because I already had the date from some other records. Any insight would be helpful. thanks!

  • 10. Deborah Burik  |  September 28th, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Hi Judy:

    My great grandfather was Rev Emil Burik and I am doing a little research myself about his whereabouts during that time period.

    It seems as though he was at St John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church during 1906-1908.

    I’ve provided a link for possibly a little more information. Please excuse the added information regarding Rev Hanulya, as he was also my great grandfather.



  • 11. Dennis Haluska  |  November 11th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    The Russian Cemetery may be St.Theodocius ?

  • 12. Linda Giesige  |  October 27th, 2012 at 10:24 am

    My GrandmotherMary Guba(nee Hurst) attended Holy Ghost Greek Catholic and her funeral was there… Can anyone tell me if husband Andrew was also and if they are buried there? Thank you, Linda

  • 13. MM  |  November 5th, 2012 at 11:53 am

    To Linda Giesige, I may be able to help you locate your Andrew Guba. I would like to compare notes with you…it looks like our relatives may have been neighbors! Please email me:

  • 14. Fr. Richard Plishka  |  November 14th, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Slava Isusu Christu!
    Glory to Jesus Christ!

    To all those curious about Holy Ghost Church…

    Though the parish is closed, the building now serves as the home for the Eparchy (Diocese) of Parma’s new Byzantine Catholic Cultural Center.

    For information about the Center, visit, or “like” Byzantine Catholic Cultural Center of Facebook.

    Visit the Church and Center during the monthly Tremont Neighborhood ArtWalk (2nd Friday of each month), or for weekend services:
    Saturday - Great Vespers (evening prayer) at 7:00 pm
    Sunday - Matins (morning prayer) at 10:00 am
    Sunday - Divine Liturgy (Holy Mass) at 11:00 am

    The scheudle may vary, so be sure to check the website, or call (216)357-2933 before attending.

    For those of you who may be seeking family history information, all records from the former parish are now at the Chancery of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma.

    For information about family records, email, or call (216) 741-8773.

    C’ Bohom!
    God be with you!

  • 15. Sandy Kovach  |  February 9th, 2013 at 10:28 am

    If Phyllis Skrysak would contact me at I am the granddaughter of MIke and Katie Benzie. I believe that Mike and Katie are buried at Holy Ghost Cemetery. I do not know if they attended Holy Ghost church or not but from what my mother told me Katie (my grandmother was Catholic) I know that Katie died when my mother (Rose) one of her 13 children was 9 yrs old which would be 1930. I would like to know more about where my grandparents came from.

  • 16. MM  |  February 21st, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    To Judy Bunasky, I may be able to help you with your research here in Ohio. Email me at

  • 17. Don Hricko  |  May 11th, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I’m researching my ancestry and was told that my paternal grandfather is buried in Holy Ghost Cemetary.I don’t know if there is a grave stone or not.His name was John A Hricko.Can you tell me if he is buried there,and is this Cemetary part of the church grounds? Thanks

  • 18. Theresa Vanko Martineau  |  July 5th, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    The news that they will close Holy Ghost has thoroughly saddened me along with many of saints in Heaven and those that have moved to other Areas. I realize that times are changing, the whole world is changing !!!! To close this beautiful church, the memories of Father Hanulya and many of the priests that followed in his footsteps hurts beyond anything short of losing my own parents.
    Father Michael Hayduk attended this church….what are his thoughts on this closing???
    He can email me privately to explain this disappointing news.
    Theresa Vanko

  • 19. MM  |  May 2nd, 2017 at 6:51 am

    I have a cemetery book from Holy Spirit Byzantine from the year they celebrated 100 years. It lists burials and locations. This is a cemetery from many NE Ohio Byzantine Catholics from various churches in the area. I can look up names for you if you like. In your email please tell me where you found this listing.

  • 20. MM  |  May 2nd, 2017 at 6:55 am

    I see that no one can reach me unless an email is given for the cemetery book I own. Not sure why an email is asked but then not posted! If people want to get a response, you must type in your email in the posting! So here it is:

  • 21. Grummore  |  May 9th, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Hmm this church surely has a rich history and I am really looking forward to having a good time visiting it! I learned about it earlier from superior papers as well, good work it was. This is pretty much informative too, liked it!

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  • 26. Heather  |  August 15th, 2017 at 8:41 am

    I’m trying to help a friend search for the grave of her deceased brother, buried in 1963 in the “interment holy ghost cemetery cleveland ohio”

    Otis Nicholson

    I don’t have any other information. He died as a young man and his family back home was given the bare minimum details. Any help anyone can provide is most appreciated! We are several states over and my friend is elderly and cannot travel far. I would love to find a photo of his grave for her.

  • 27. Marlene Seaton  |  August 26th, 2017 at 11:57 am

    I am seeing information on Holy Ghost Holy Spirit Cemetery and St John’s Cathedral.

    I need burial information and marriage information.

    If the person who posted 2017 is still reading hear, can you contact me? I can post my email if necessary.

    Names involved are Onyak (Ongyak, etc)
    Ilczisko and Butchko. The mystery is Peter Onyak might have married Anna Ilczisko (1908 Rev Emil Burik St John’s on Scoville Ave), she could have died in child birth, then he married Helen Butchko in 1910 married by Eugene Volkay St Johns). Helen is my great aunt. However I an not sure the two Peter’s are the same as online information gives different parents on the two marriage records for Peter. Although online records say he was buried at Holy Cross the funeral home says he was buried at Holy Ghost/Spirit. I have a query into the cemetery and cathedral but no answer in a week. I think if these Peters are the same, there would be the birth of a child from that first wife name Peter after they married in 1908 (I think late like Nov), and his marriage to Helen in Jan 1910. Any help in solving this mystery would so be appreciated.

  • 28. Marlene Seaton  |  August 26th, 2017 at 11:59 am

  • 29. Diane appel  |  September 17th, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    My mother helena lary was baptized here. Rev joseph hanulya baptised and john solomon susan mciurkovich were sponsors. The date 23 june 1986. My mothers parents were basilius lary father and anna pavlinck mother. Trying to get info. Thank you!

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