April 9th, 2008
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