UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
75th Anniversary Celebration of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Church
September 22, Saint Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Bayonne, New Jersey celebrated its Feast Day and the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of its founding with an Arch-Pastoral Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Elect Archbishop ANTONY assisted by Rev. Fr. Myroslav Schirta, the church’s pastor, V. Rev. Protopresbyter Dr. Taras Chubenko, Dean of New Jersey/New York Deanery, V. Rev. Fr. John Fencik, St. Mary Orthodox Church, Rev. Fr. Igor Kseniuk, Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church OCA, Rev. Fr. Stephen E .Krivonak, Deacon Vasyl Dovgan, Sub-deacon Richard Jendras and four St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary students.
His Eminence Metropolitan Elect Archbishop ANTONY was greeted and welcomed at the church’s entrance with Pascha, salt, and flowers presented by Parish President Donald J. Zyry and a group of children led by Maria and Paul Schirta, followed by the official welcome and beseeching of prayers by our parish priest, Fr. Myroslav Schirta. In his response to Fr. Myrsolav stated that we will, indeed, pray for the parish priests who preceded Fr.Myroslav and all the founders, benefactors, workers and visitors to the parish over the past 75 years. During the Liturgy the Archbishop spoke of our predecessors as people who had dreams – dreams as big as the Holy Apostles themselves. Our parents, grandparents and in some cases great or great-great grandparents came to a strange country, spoke a strange language, worshipped in a strange way – at least to American society – but they worked and lived together in the love and Name of Jesus Christ the Lord, and built a spiritual legacy to pass on to future generations. That legacy is what we celebrate today.
The Archbishop also challenged then faithful present to remember that they cannot live on the glory of the past for very long. He reminded them that they must continue to protect the legacy and to be witnesses to Christ’s Gospel – Good News – and pass it on to the generations ahead who will look back upon the faithful of 2012 and thank God for their perseverance in faith – regardless of the circumstances they faced in a very secular world, which wants to hear nothing about holiness, the sanctity of life or of “loving one another”. He challenged all present to walk out the church doors after this anniversary celebration and to put into action the teachings of our Lord in their lives and to recommit themselves to Him as the center of their lives.
Follow Divine Liturgy a banquet was held in the Church Hall. Many of the attendees came from out of state including New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner with several Romanian & Ukrainian dishes. All enjoyed a delightful musical presentation by the Sunday school children. Everyone enjoyed reminiscing of past days, renewing old acquaintances, sharing pictures of the past and the present and looking forward to the future of St. Sophia.
St. Sophia was founded September 18, 1937 with a meeting held at the Ukrainian National Home and dedicated to the Holy Martyress Sophia in honor of the Mother Church of Ukraine, St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. V. Rev. Vladimir Klodnycky first priest and Prof. Joseph Bukata, Choir Director celebrated the first Divine Liturgy at People’s Baptist Church on 27th Street. Services continued there until 1941.
Property was purchased in 1939 and in May 1940 ground breaking, consecration and Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan JOHN Theodorovich. Constructionof the Church began spring 1941 under General Contractor Alex Korello and the corner stone was laid and blessed by His Beatitude Metropolitan JOHN Theodorovich.
The men and women of the parish put in many long hours of “hands on” labor in the construction and fund raising events to fund the cost of their church with a Burning of the Mortgage in November 1947. In 1949 the house behind the church was purchased and furnished for use as the Parish House. By February 1952 the Parish House mortgage was burned thanks to the continued hard work of the parishioners.
1952 the Fifteenth Anniversary saw the retirement of it first priest V. Rev. Vladimir Klodnycky and the organization of the Sunday School. 1953 the iconic style Ukrainian Saints were painted directly on the walls by Cholodney Studio of New York. 1955 the Children’s Choir, Catechism classes and the Alter Boy Society were formed.
1975 saw the renewing of the iconic paintings in the church by Makarenko Studios of Yonkers, NY. Over the many years dedication to the prayer life of the church, working and sharing our talents for the continuation of St. Sophia and the slow but steady growth gives a real life to future of God’s Church.
During the 75 years of St. Sophia’s history many priests servedincluding. Rev. Stephen P. Symchych, Rev. Eugene Novitsky, Rev. Frank Estocin, and Rev. Wasyl Iwashchuk 1978-1989. Fr. Iwashchuk as a widower was consecrated as Bishop Paisij andserved the Ukrainian Church in Brazil, South America. Our current priest is Rev. Fr. Myroslav Schirta who began August 1998. During his pastorate we have seen a renewed growth in the parish, especially with the increase of children that wereborn into the Church Family. The dedication that Fr. Myroslav has shown as the shepherd of this flock leads everyone to look forward to celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2037.