.:From the Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church 1962 Golden Jubilee Book:.
Information that appears in bold italic was contributed by E. Mushalko and has been incorporated into the history that appeared in the Golden Jubilee Book.
This short history of the parish, being published on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee, is not intended to be comprehensive or definitive. It is based on two sources, the memories of the pioneers of this parish, who being human, have mellowed the good and tried to forget the bad of the years gone by, also as our most reliable guide we have the book containing the minutes of the parish meetings, which present the events of the past as they were then seen.
To be sure, many people who gave generously of themselves, and of their time and money are not mentioned in the brief telegraphic notes of the minutes. They are known only to their families, who cherish their memory, and to God, who has surely rewarded them with the promised hundredfold. Ukrainian immigrants, began coming to this country in the latter part of the 19th century. The first definite date we have is that of 1884, when in Shenandoah, our first church, St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church, was built. The reasons for this immigration were primarily economic. Our people came to this country because they wished to build for themselves, and for their children, a comfortable and dignified station in life.
When they came to America they faced many difficulties. They were in a foreign land, with no money, no friends, they were prosecuted by older immigrants of other nationalities who were suspicious of our customs and traditions.
Our immigrants were divided among themselves. While they were all Greek Catholics, they came from different parts of the Ukraine and were under Polish, Hungarian, Austrian and Russian influences. This is why the same people gave themselves different names: Ruthenian, Rusin, Austrian, Lemko, Uhordsky and Hungarian.
Yet this bond of religion proved stronger than all the external pressures and internal strife which our people were subjected to and so, our church grew here in America. Here in the hard coal region our church really flourished. Churches rose in Shenandoah, Shamokin, Minersville, Mt Carmel and in almost all of the towns of this area and when the people of Marion Heights began building, the people in Centralia decided, they too would have their own church. So on August 15, 1911 a committee was formed which called a meeting for the purpose of building their own church. All the Greek Catholics from Centralia, came to the meeting. They voted to form a separate parish and to build their own church. They dedicated the parish to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the basis of the above resolution, they asked the first Ukrainian Bishop in America, Soter Ortynsky, for a permission to build a church in Centralia. The most Reverend Bishop sent his delegate Reverend Zachary Orun to a meeting in Centralia to investigate.
At this meeting the following committee members were chosen: Sam Kowalyshyn, President; Philemon Fludowich, Financial Secretary; Nicholas Skolski, Recording Secretary; Michael Fludowich, Treasurer. Other members of the committee were: Gregory Zawko, Peter Lychko, Sam Dokla, Gregory Chomiak, Basil Zolobayluk, Michael Koben, Jerry Brezniak, and John Potochny. All these committee members took an oath before Reverend Zachary Orun that they would work conscientiously and honestly as the building committee of the church and parish in Centralia. It was voted that each family contribute $50.00 and each single parishioner $30.00. With God's blessing the building of the church was begun. Accordingly they rented a hall in the Latin Catholics Church of St. Ignatius and our services were celebrated there. A house was rented for the priest. At first it was hard to find a lot for the proposed church because all of Centralia is resting on the coal mines. But through the help of an agent called Steiman a piece of land was bought north of Centralia which dominates the whole of Centralia to the north. On October 1, 1911 a contract was signed with a contractor. The parishioners dug the foundation themselves.
But the building of the church was soon interrupted because the contractor could not finish the building. Another contractor, Breit from Ashland finished the building of the church for $6,000. The church was completed in 1912. It was blessed by Reverend Peter Pontiatyshyn, administrator of the diocese, in 1916. On January 12, a charter for the church corporation was obtained, which clearly and definitely states that the priest due to his office is the president of the parish corporation. The charter was signed by Fillimon Fludowch, Simon Kovalishyn, Harry Zawko, Michael Flushok, and Michael Skolsky. To avoid disagreements among the parishioners a Constitution and By-Laws of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at Centralia, PA, Columbia County, book No. 10, page 228, Bloomsburg, Pa. was made. It was recorded February 13, 1912. The By-Laws have 8 paragraphs.
In 1916 agents of the Russian Orthodox Mission established in New York City led part of the parish into a schism. Playing on grievances in the parish, and on the similarity of 'Rusin" to 'Russian' The agents led Catholic Ukrainians to believe themselves Russian Orthodox. Minutes of the meetings of those times, mention the following people who worked hard and sacrificed their time towards the building of the church. They are: Peter Lach, Wasyl Czudjowicz, Fedair Hosynec, Iwan Furtiak, Hryhori Babycz, Petro Maksymiuk, Nykolaj Lach, Petro Wercholak, Petro Szczerbanowicz, Mychail Mychaleczko, Andrej Zynowjak, Wasyl Fago, Mykola Matkowskj, Iwan Pysarczyk, Mychail Tokarskyj, Simon Dokla and Fedir Kenik.
I wish to mention George Breznak, who belonged to the church committee, and who for many years was very active in the church work. He often helped the church when it was in financial difficulties. For this the church committee gave him a cemetery lot. However he was buried in the St. Stephens cemetery in Shenandoah.
The first Divine Liturgy in our church was celebrated by Reverend Yosyf Bernatskiy, from Keiser. Mary Buhay and Nykola Nasycz were the first couple married. In the first years of the parish life the following organizations existed: Brotherhood of St. Dimitri, Ukrainian National Association, Workers Association, and a lodge of the Providence Association. At the present time church organizations are: Sisterhood of St. Olga, Apostleship of Prayer, Altar Boys Society, and Holy Name Society, organized by Reverend John Chervinsky in 1960.
The parish was very progressive. During the pastorate of Reverend A. Ulanycki on August 17, a meeting was held to discuss establishing a day school. There is a note in the minutes of that meeting that there never was a meeting so active and quiet as this. There was great interest in the project and a building was bought for a school for $3,200.00. Furnishings and paintings cost another $3,685.00 all in all $6,885.00. Sisters lived in the parish home on Railroad Street. The children were taking instructions in the new hall for a time. Later instructions were given in the school building. The first graduation took place during the pastorate of Reverend Paul Greskiw. In spite of the fact that the parish school was making progress, it was closed during the pastorate of Reverand Nicholas Lizak, because of the lack of Sisters. At the present time Sisters conduct School during the summer month only. Alex Zaherko bought a lot for $100.00 to be used as a parish cemetery. The hard working parishioners put a wall around the cemetery. In 1924 parishioners bought another lot for $400.00. Improvements were made on this second lot, and the whole cemetery was blessed by then Bishop, later Metropolitan Constantine Bohachevsky of Blessed Memory. The first one to be buried on it was John Czepa, secretary of the parish committee for many years. Putting the parish cemetery in order was done mostly by John Czepa, Joseph Sydor, John Sydor, Nicholas Czerdarczuk, Luke and Theodore Pukeca, Peter Krynickyj, Mary Liptak, John Palko, Fred Maschak, Nicholas Smolak, Peter Czerpanyn, John Mayernyk, Peter Keninec, Patrick Diry and Fred Maschak. In the cemetery is buried Reverend Joseph Boyarchuk, a former pastor.
Priests are closely connected with the church. If there is no priest, even the most beautiful church is empty and does not fulfill its mission. The first priest in Centralia was Reverand Kyrylo Perizok. He was the first resident priest. Later priests from other parishes such as Mt Carmel, Keiser, St. Clair served Centralia. The priests in Centralia were changed often, which hindered parish progress. The priests could not plan future activities. Reverend John Woloshyn and Reverend Joseph Boyarchuk served in the parish later. At this time a parish store was established, but it was not in business a long time. It was bought for $2,700.00. The money was loaned by John Zolobayliuk, Theodore Korbilka, Sam Kowalshyn, Stephen Prychoda, Peter Wysochansky and Michael Mychalechko. In 1927 came Reverend Wolodymyr Ulanycky and Reverend M. Danylovicz. During his pastorate, a painted Zacharchuk, painted the church for $475.00. Then came Reverend Wolodymyr Tytar and Reverend Joseph Dzendzera. The 25th Jubilee of the parish was celebrated during his pastorate. Then came Reverend Wasyl Hrywnak, Reverend Basil Ostas, Reverend Joseph Haniak, Reverend Nicholas Wolensky and Reverend Antin Ulanycky. During the pastorate of Reverend O. Onuferko, the church and rectory was reshingled and the Pysarchuk family donated a new tabernacle for the church. Reverend John Pidzarko had the church painted again and renovated the Ikonostas. New windows were installed. Improvements were made on the cemetery. All these improvements were made only through the gifts and hard work of the parishioners. Though Reverend John Pidzarko was not here long, he left a pleasant memory of his stay. He had a special way of dealing with the people.
The parish has a house and a hall on Railroad St. It has a school and the parish home near the church bought in 1916 for $2,900.00. On July 13, 1959 Reverend John Chervinsky took over the parish. In 1960 the front of the church was remodeled In 1961 the roof of the church was improved and repainted.
Between 1988 and 2000, Father Daniel Troyan did a lot of remodeling on the inside of the church, he had the icons or paintings done over, new drywall and painting of the walls, new steel doors, new carpet through the whole church. He started perpetual care in the cemetery, new iron gates and iron railings leading up to the cemetery from the church and started summer camp for the children at the Centralia rectory which was turned into a hall used for socials at the church.
The following cantors have served in the parish: Theodore Huzulak, Stephen Prychoda, Jurko Berezinskyj, Nicholas Kucher, Wasyl Hosynec, Oleksa Lawriw and Andrij Dworakiw. From 1940 up to the present time, Peter Maksymiuk is serving the parish. When the diaks were conducting the evening school, Ukrainian language was taught, they gave plays and concerts and was directing the church choir. The chairmen of the church committee from the beginning of the parish have been Simeon Kowalyshyn, Michael Mychalechko, John Cheppa, Ilko Sewchuk, Hryhori Bazan, Wasyl Mikash, Hawryo Borys, Myron Konarnychyj, Oleksa Nodych, Iwan Lopachij, Wasyl Wolchanskyj, Theodore Kasenych and Iwan Mushalko.