In about 1876, the first immigrants from what is today Ukraine arrived in America. A second contingent of immigrants began to arrive during the early 1880s from the Galicia (Halychyna) region of Western Ukraine.
Not finding many eastern-rite Catholic churches upon their arrival in this area, many immigrants from Ukraine initially attended Roman Catholic churches closest in ethnic character to their own, usually Polish or Slovak.
In Youngstown, some of our early pioneers attended the Divine Liturgy at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Church, but eventually most attended the only Byzantine Rite church in the Youngstown area at the early part of the 20th century, St. Mary’s Carpatho-Ruthenian Parish located on Salt Springs Road. Here the majority of national groups of the Byzantine Rite Catholics including the Carpatho-Ruthenians, Hungarians, Romanians, Serbians and Ukrainians attended this parish, and here many of our first pioneers were married and had their children baptized. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Old Slavonic and sermons were preached in Ruthenian and Hungarian. Many of our early Ukrainian Catholic immigrants attended church even though they had to walk long distances or take the street car from the outer sections of the city. Attending church also satisfied a great social need, for it was the only opportunity for fraternizing and to discuss personal, as well as mutual issues.
One of our first Ukrainian immigrants in the Youngstown area was George Glazzy, who came to the United States in 1881, and settled in Youngstown in 1887.
Upon his arrival in Youngstown, George Glazzy and other early immigrants had longed to be in their own church. By the year 1909, when approximately one hundred and fifty Ukrainian families had settled in the Youngstown vicinity, they determined there were enough people to sufficiently support a church-parish of their own. To plan and formulate this project, many meetings were held, the result of which culminated in seeking the services of Rev. Stephanovich of St. John the Baptist Parish, in Pittsburgh. This was the closest Ukrainian church to the Youngstown area.
Fr. Stephanovich came to Youngstown to celebrate the first Divine Liturgy for the Ukrainian Catholic families at Diebel Hall, located on West Federal Street. He and encouraged the people to retain their strong faith and devotion and prayed that their dreams of hearing the Divine Liturgy, celebrated in their own church, be fulfilled as quickly as possible.
The people, encouraged and inspired by the words of Fr. Stephanovich, petitioned Bishop Soter Ortynsky to assign a priest to the new parish, and in the year 1909, Bishop Ortynsky assigned Rev. Michael Balogh to the first pastor of Holy Trinity. Through his efforts, the property of the present church was purchased.
For a time, Rev Balogh celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Diebel Hall and later at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Hall. Rev. Balogh only ministered the parish until December of 1909. Rev Basil Zacerkovny was appointed to the infant parish. Rev Zacerkovny hastened the plans for building a church and with Rev. Olrich Zlamal of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church, and other early pioneers, the architectural firm of Miller and Ford from Youngstown, was engaged to draw up the plans and specifications. Bids for the church edifice were sent out and a few weeks after bid acceptance, construction on the church began.
The church was officially incorporated in the State of Ohio on January 17, 1911. The cornerstone of the church edifice was laid and it was blessed by Bishop Ortynsky on November 12, 1911. During the construction period, two major delays were encountered as a result of a shortage of funds, and by January of 1912, the basement of the church was completed, which then became the place of worship for parishioners.
Much credit must be given to the parishioners who either donated money or made liberal loans from $50 to $500 during the early construction phase of the church. The church construction was financed entirely by month to month collections. When money was not forthcoming, the contractors would discontinue the project until additional funds were available.
The construction of the church was completed in the early part of 1913, but many of the refinements came slowly due to financial difficulties. From 1913 to the end of his pastorship in 1918, Fr. Zacerkovny set forth all his efforts toward the completion of the interior of the church. The life-sized stained glass windows in the sanctuary are figures of the four Evangelists and were installed in 1914. The present marble altar with its beautiful frescoed replica of Our Lord’s Last Supper was installed in May 1914. (see photo) The three bells in the bell-towers were installed in February 1914.
In 1918, Rev. Basil Steciuk was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity Church. During his administration the interior of the church was completed. Pews, light fixtures and other interior items were installed. Our beautifully hand-crafted Iconostas, made by artisans from Ukraine, was installed in 1919 and the remaining nine stained glass windows were purchased and installed in 1920. (See photos)
During the following years, the late Rev. Constantine Kuryllo, Nicholas Sturynsky, John Zaharko, and Stephen Waschyshyn served as pastors, each for a short period of time.
In December of 1923, Rev. Vladimir Dowhovich came to Holy Trinity and remained until 1927. In 1925, Most Rev. Archbishop Contantine Bohachevsky blessed the church. During the pastorship of Fr. Dowhovich, The Sisterhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary was organized in 1923 and in 1927, the Altar Boys Society was organized. In the early years, the altar boys wore their suits to serve, but later cassocks were provided and in the 1940s, dalmatics were purchased for their use.
Fr. Dowhovich was a very energetic priest who had an avid interest in education. He established four district schools in which Catechism, and the Ukrainian language were taught. Many of us now living have benefited by his ardor in that we have learned how to read and write the Ukrainian language and appreciate the beauty of the Eastern Rite.
Rev. Myron Danilovich followed as pastor in 1927. He continued the good work, and made an improvement in the church financial situation by decreasing church debt. In 1929, however, a great depression started and most of our parishioners worked part time, and many, not at all, thus making the repayment of the debts nearly impossible. All was not entirely gloomy, for in those days, the church served more as a center of social activity than it is today.
In 1931, Rev. Anthony Strotsky was made pastor during the depth of the depression, a time of vast unemployment and financial crisis. The parish, too, was a victim of the fate of its parishioners. Succeeding Fr. Strotsky were Rev. Marian Stankanewich, and then Rev. John Dzendzera.
In November of 1933, Rev John Zabawa was assigned to the parish. His administration was an illustrious one and he sacrificed personally so that the parish could get the church debt paid. In a short period of six years, he brought much needed order and in 1935, the mortgage on the church was paid in full. This event brought great joy to the people of the parish, since it took place during the depression when times were poor.
During Fr. Zabawa’s pastorship, many social activities took place, such as parish picnics held during the summer months, and plays and concerts during the fall and winter months. The proceeds from these events were used primarily to pay off the mortgage on the church.
Fr. Zabawa was succeeded by Rev. Peter Poniatision and then Rev. Peter Oleksiw who organized the Senior Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, thus making it a charter member of this world-wide society. Following Fr. Oleksiw was Archpriest Isidore Nahajewsky. During his pastorship a very choice piece of property was purchased in 1950, on the east side of Youngstown, consisting of over fourteen acres of wooded land, popularly called Berkley Woods, which provided a place for the parish’s summer activities. In addition, during the year 1950, the Ukrainian Hall, across from the church, was purchased to give the young people a place for their social needs and to transfer all mundane activity from the premise of the church basement.
1950-2005: Rev. Leo Adamiak Years
In August 1950, Rev. Leo Adamiak arrived in Youngstown to assume the pastorship of Holy Trinity Church. His first efforts were in reconciling the people to work in harmony under church laws and regulations. The newly acquired hall, picnic grounds, and other church properties were deeded in trust to the Bishop according to the norms of Ecclesiastical Canons. Trustism, which had plagued church discipline for many years, was removed, and the pastor assumed his proper office as a spiritual and temporal head of his congregation.
The Berkley Woods picnic grounds and the church hall were remodeled and existing church societies were vitalized and directed to follow the statutes. In 1955, a hundred and ten foot frontage was purchased for parking facilities on the west side of the church hall. In 1957 a renovation program brought about extensive interior repair to the church which included a gas-fired furnace replacing the old coal-stoker; the exterior part of the church woodwork was repainted; complete electrical rewiring and installation of an electric mechanism to operate the tower bells. In addition, our beautiful Iconastas was re-gilded.
In 1958, the Mother’s Club, which was organized in 1948, became a church affiliated society, and in December, 1958, another church society, the St. Anne Guild was organized with the intention of sponsoring various projects of which the proceeds always benefit the church.
During the years, the church and hall have been refurbished to maintain and improve the beauty of our original church and its architecture.
In 1973, plans were commissioned for a major renovation and building project at Holy Trinity: a new rectory. Over the year, many meeting, concerning the building project took place. Landscaping was also a part of the overall plan that also continued to be examined and implemented. Work began in August of 1973. Finally in May of 1974 furnishings were moved into the new rectory and in June of 1974, the old rectory building was demolished.
In June of 1978, new symbolic doors were installed at the church and in 1979; an extended interior renovation of the church began in January: repainting, plastering additional lighting, carpeting and choir loft refurbishing was initiated.
In 1983, under the leadership of Msgr. Leo Adamiak, a major new project was undertaken. Additional property was purchased on the West side of the church and re-plotted into one parcel. This was the beginning of many meetings regarding the building a Shrine on this property to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the parish and observe the millennium, the 1,000 year anniversary, in 1988 of Ukraine’s acceptance of Christianity. Finally, on June 12, 1986, a 80-ft cross for the Shrine was raised and placed on a pedestal with many parishioners, friends, and civic officials taking part in a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to exalt that historic occasion. On September 1, 1986, a special dedication service was held with over 800 parishioner and friends participating. This celebration included a 90-member procession to the Shrine Cross followed by a Thanksgiving Moleben by Bishop Robert Moskal and six concelebrating priests. Following the service, participants proceeded to the banquet facility to continue the celebration.
Msgr. Adamiak retired in 2005 after serving as our pastor for 55 years.
Following Msgr. Adamiak, Rev. Joseph Tamburro, Rev. Peter Tomas, Rev. Andrew Marko, and Rev. Steven Zarichny have served as pastors. Rev. Lubomyr Zhybak, our current pastor, was assigned to Holy Trinity in 2012.
In all, since its beginning, Holy Trinity Church has been served by a total of 21 priests; and since 1947, by a total of 16 assistant pastors. For a complete list of all pastors at Holy Trinity, please click here.
In preparation for our 100th Anniversary Celebration in 2011, many improvements were made to the church, social hall and parish grounds.