St. John’s Orthodox Church will celebrate its 75th anniversary and the consecration of its new church building at a service at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The service will take place at the church’s new home on Morefield Road at Route 18 in Hermitage. The church previously was located on Cedar Avenue at Morrison Street in Sharon.
Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, will be the main celebrant of the consecration service, when the new church and social hall will be blessed. A Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will follow.
At 2 p.m., a grand banquet will be held at Park Inn by Radisson in Shenango Township. Remarks will be made by Archon Steven Lukac, church board president; the Rev. Kenneth Bachofsky, dean of the Youngstown Deanery; Rev. Michael Polanichka, pastor emeritus of St. John’s Orthodox Church; and Rev. David Mastroberte, church pastor. Bishop Gregory will give the main address.
The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated April 3, 1938, by founding pastor, the Rev. Paul Tkach, in the Croatian Hall in Farrell. Two months later, a former Presbyterian Mission Church at Cedar and Morrison was purchased. The church was renovated according to Orthodox design and was consecrated by Bishop Orestes P. Chornock.
Later that year, 11 acres of land were purchased in Hermitage for a church cemetery.
During this time, various groups were organized to help the church. A mothers and daughters club, men’s club, choir, band, drama club and ACRY were established.
Soon the church was too small to accommodate the fast-growing parish, plans for a new church and parish home were made. Eventually, the old church was razed and a new church erected. The church was reconsecrated on July 17, 1955. An educational center was constructed and dedicated by Bishop John R. Martin on Oct. 31, 1971.
With the beginning of the new millennium, St. John’s put into place plans to build a new church and social hall on property adjoining the cemetery.
On Feb. 12, 2012, ground was broken at the new site. Jan. 13 of this year marked the final liturgy in the Sharon location, after which the Gospel Book, Antimension, and Reserved Eucharist were taken from the Altar and process out of the church and taken to the cemetery chapel.
On March 24, the church celebrated the first Divine Liturgy at the Hermitage site. Prior to the service, parishioners were led in a procession into the new church.
Rev. Tkach served until 1963, followed by Rev. Raphael Sotak until 1968 and Rev. Nicholas Wolochuk until 1972. Rev. Polanichka served nearly 40 years, until 2011.