Portage church celebrates 100 years

Saints Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church, 143 Church Road, Portage Township, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the parish on Sunday.

There will be a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at 3 p.m., with His Eminence, Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla celebrant. After the Divine Liturgy, an anniversary banquet will follow in the church social hall.

Parishioners will be joined by clergy of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and of the vicinity, members of monastic and religious communities, and other guests for this festive occasion.

The public is invited to attend the celebration.

Saints Peter and Paul Church has its origins in the former Saint Michael Parish in South Fork, according to a news release from the church.

A number of families from Portage and neighboring communities such as Bens Creek, Puritan, Springhill, Wilmore, Lilly and Cassandra traveled to South Fork for weekly worship services. In order to better serve these faithful, efforts to organize a parish community for “Greek Catholics,” later identified as Byzantine Catholics, began about 1916. The parish was chartered and a church was built, with its cornerstone dated 1917.

This first church building, along Prospect Street in Portage Borough, was dedicated on July 4, 1918, the release stated.

As the parish continued to grow in the decades that followed, a new church was built.

The parish had acquired property along Munster Road in Portage Township. The site of a former brick making company, this location became the new home of the parish. It also provided space for picnic grounds, where the parish festival is held on the second Sunday of July each year.

A new church building was built under the leadership of Father Robert Bayusik. Dedicated on May 30, 1976, this building provides testimony to the features of the worship and spirit which are characteristic of the Eastern Christian churches.

The church’s first pastor was Father Desiderius Zubritsky, who served until 1928. Subsequent pastors include the Rev. Nicholas Stecovitch, the Rev. Stephen Zacharias, the Rev. Stephen Loya, the Rev. Msgr. Michael Simodyka, the Rev. Adalbert Bihary, the Rev. Ronald Borsuk, the Rev. John Dorich, the Rev. Robert Bayusik, the Rev. Myron Kochaba, the Rev. Robert Karl and the Rev. Jason Dolan.

The present pastor is the Very Rev. James A. Spontak.

Saints Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Portage is a parish of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.