Campbell Church celebrates 100 years | News, Sports, Jobs

CAMPBELL — St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church, 463 Robinson Road, celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The centenary celebration will take place on July 31 with the hierarchical liturgy at 3 p.m., followed by a banquet.

The Reverend Kevin Marks, pastor of the church, said members of the congregation were delighted to mark this milestone and the legacy of the church, which also included renovations to the church this year with new icons. The first two installation phases were completed this year.

Church member Johnna Tabus said the church had done a major roof restoration, painted the interior, installed new carpet and had the icons installed.

Church officials said the beginnings of St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church reflect early immigrant migrations from eastern Czechoslovakia. The men and women traveled to America, settling in Campbell, to build a new life. Many came to seek employment in the steel mills of the Mahoning Valley where they built homes and raised families.

Campbell’s Byzantines longed to have their own church. St Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church was incorporated and chartered by the state on August 21, 1922 and met at 110 Bright Ave.

In 1926, Father Nestor Rakovsky was appointed as the church’s first resident pastor. Under his leadership, the congregation slowly grew and added catechism classes.

In 1939, a parsonage was purchased on Tenney Avenue near the church site and housed Father Michael Warady and his family. At that time, the majority of Byzantine Catholic priests were married.

After exploring several options, 63 acres of property was acquired from the Silas Blackburn Estate for $15,000. Plans were drawn for a new church by P. Arthur D’Orazio, and the general contract was awarded to Adolph Johnson and Sons Construction Co. to build the church on Robinson Road. At the same time, a house that was to serve as a presbytery was built at 469 Robinson Road.

The church was inaugurated on October 26, 1952 by Bishop Daniel Ivancho. Father Paul Vasko assumed the pastorate and the task of developing the church property which would include a presbytery and a social center.

Plans were made to provide parochial education for children in parishes. The church purchased Oles’ estate on Youngstown-Poland Road, which served as a convent for the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, who were the first religious group to serve as instructors. The school was officially known as the Byzantine Catholic Central School of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The new school was completed in 1955.

A new $75,000 parsonage in the style of the church was added to the campus in 1961. In 1962, it was joined by a new $170,000 social hall. The exterior sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Grace was added between the church and the presbytery.

The interior of the church was enhanced for the 50th anniversary celebration by the addition of the Last Supper mosaic in November 1972.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the Byzantine Catholic center fell victim to declining enrollment which affected many parochial schools. After struggling with combined classrooms and other attempts to attract new students, the school closed

In recognition of his many achievements in the parish and the BCC community, Reverend Victor Romza was elevated to the rank of Monsignor in 1985 and served as the most senior parish priest. He died in 2017.

Father Kevin Marks was appointed pastor on March 14, 2014. This was a first, with Marks pastoring in two states simultaneously as he is also pastor of St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Hermitage, Pennsylvania.

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