Jermyn, PA 18433
Phone: (570) 397-6086
Cell: (423) 883-4680
Priest Matthew Smith
Jermyn, PA 18433
Phone: (570) 397-6086
Cell: (423) 667-2597
P.O. Box 15
Fleetville, PA 18420
Phone: (570) 876-4321
sung in Chuch Slavonic and English.
Saturday evening: Vespers 4:00 PM
Sunday morning: Matins 8:00 AM, Divine Liturgy 9:30 AM
Feast day Vigil: 6:30 PM
Feast day Divine Liturgy: 9:30 AM
The earliest beginnings of St.
John the Baptist Cathedral dates back to 1878 with the arrival of
Carpatho-Russian immigrants from the western part of Galicia known
as Lemkovstchina. These
early settlers began holding services in the Stec home, located
directly behind the present Cathedral.
Shortly thereafter, they rented an inactive Baptist church
and immediately converted the interior to resemble an Orthodox
Church. In 1888, the
Brotherhood of Saint
John the Baptist (which is still in existence) was organized and
plans were implemented to build a new church.
This initial building was a wooden frame structure and was
constructed in 1891 in design according to the style to which these
people were accustomed. The
original name given was the Russian Greek Catholic Church of St.
John the Baptist.
By 1896, the faithful had built a
parish home and school building
which also contained a social center for church affairs and the
community. The people
totally supported a priest and choirmaster.
The peoples’ foresight and energy are exemplified by such
accomplishments as the establishment of a food cooperative store,
the parish drum and bugle corp., Boy Scout Troop #85, a library, the
Russian Hose Co. (present day Mayfield Hose Co.), and many other
the turn of the century, more Greek Catholic churches were founded
in the area. As a
result, the initial apathy of local Roman Catholics evolved into
overt hostility against theses Christians of the Eastern Rite.
The Roman Hierarch demanded that the faithful of Saint
John’s adopt a new charter and sign their property over to the
Roman Catholic Church. The
parishioners vehemently resisted these pressures and became
determined to reunite with their Orthodox faith that they did not
even realize they had left.
In 1902, Fr. John Olshevsky
petitioned Archbishop Tikhon (now Saint Tikhon of Moscow) to accept
them under his Omophorion (spiritual protectorate).
By 1903, the parish was officially accepted into the Orthodox
Church by the celebration of a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy with
Archbishop Tikhon. In
1905, the parishioners of St. John’s played an integral role in
establishing Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery and Orphanage in
South Canaan, Pennsylvania. During
the following decades, the parish was a prime financial supporter of
the monastery and orphanage, as well as offering food to help
sustain the inhabitants. In
1907, St. John’s was honored by being chosen as the site of the
First Orthodox All-American Sobor (council) which was held on
February 20-23, 1907 and was presided over by Archbishop Tikhon.
By the late 1920’s, the size of the old wooden church was
not enough for the parish’s needs.
In 1930, the old church was moved onto Maple Street and was
used until the new church was completed.
The Cornerstone of the new church was blessed by Archbishop
Appolinary and Archbishop Adam (Phillopovsky) in 1930. The new
Church was first used on February 22, 1933 and consecrated on
September 4th (Labor Day), in 1933 by the Rev. Bishop Adam (Phillopovsky),
under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Antony (Krapovitsky) of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, as noted on the official
document of the Act of Consecration.
This feat was made all the more miraculous because the
fund-raising and building of the church occurred during the height
of the Great Depression. St.
John’s was constructed and paid for solely by the donations of
In 1951, the parish council
petitioned Metropolitan Leonty (Turkevich) for acceptance into the
Metropolia. This action
came about as a result of circumstances which happened several years
earlier. On February
10th, 1959, a fire erupted in the church.
As smoke and flames spread, parishioners formed a human
chain, removing sacred articles from the church.
The parish hall was used as a temporary place of worship
until arrangements could be made to repair the church.
With the help of the Good Lord, the church was re-blessed and
the new Altar was consecrated on May 29, 1960 by His Grace Bishop
Dimitri (Magon). Groundbreaking
ceremonies for the new hall (now called St. John’s Center) took
place on Sunday May 7, 1966. Dedication
of the new church hall took place on October 27, 1968 with Bishop
Kiprian (Borisevich) presiding.
The new parish center picked up where the old hall left off
and provides ample facilities for the continued growth and
development of the parish. In
June of 1976, ceremonies were held for the groundbreaking of the new
rectory and plaza area. On
Sunday, June 5th, 1977, one year later, Archbishop Kiprian (Borisevich)
came to Mayfield for the dedication.
September 20, 1981, Saint John’s celebrated the 90th Anniversary
of the parish.
The faithful, on that occasion, erected a plaque in the
vestibule of the church, quoting from Archbishop (later Patriarch
and now Saint) Tikhon during his historic visit to Mayfield when he
presided over the First Orthodox All-American Sobor.
Archbishop (Saint) Tikhon proclaimed: “Our North American
Orthodox Church considers itself to be the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, embracing all nations,
languages, and the world, as the first to proclaim the Orthodox
Faith here in America.”
In the winter and spring of 1982, parish meetings were
conducted to address certain decisions which were made by the Synod
of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (the former Metropolia).
The issues concerned would greatly affect the Orthodox
practice of the Liturgical life within the parish, chief among them
was the OCA’s changing over to the Revised Julian Calendar
meetings were held to clarify the issues for the faithful and on
February 14th, the faithful voted overwhelmingly (in excess of 98%
of those present) to retain the Old Style Calendar.
As the spring and summer of 1982 passed, the faithful were
made aware that their decision to retain their
Liturgical traditions according to the Old Style (Julian)
Calendar was denied by their Diocesan Bishop, as well as by the
Synod of Bishops of the OCA. On
August 22, 1982, a gathering of parish faithful voted overwhelming
(151-1) to disassociate the parish from the Orthodox Church
in America and to petition Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) and
the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia for acceptance under their Omophorion (Spiritual
During the same time, Fr. John D.
Sorochka because of deep feelings about these same issues, felt it
necessary to resign as pastor under the Orthodox Church in America
and he petitioned the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to
accept him as a priest. His
Eminence, Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesenky) accepted St. John’s
Parish and Fr. John almost simultaneously and immediately
re-assigned Fr. John as the pastor of St. John’s.
A letter dated August 29, 1982 was delivered on behalf of the
parish to the Diocesan Bishop of the OCA giving notice of the
This was the start of some
difficult years in the life of Saint John’s parish because of
Civil Court action initiated by the OCA.
An attempt was made by dissenting parishioners, as well as
the OCA Bishop, to seize control of the church and all related
property from the exorbitant majority of the parish faithful.
During the next six plus years, the Pennsylvania
Commonwealth, Superior, and ultimately State Supreme Courts
consistently upheld the decisions of the Lackawanna County Court of
Common Pleas being in favor of the vast majority of the faithful.
By the Grace of God, the issue was finally brought to rest in
1988. Aided by constant
prayer, Thomas Pavuk, Fr. John, and the Church Council, worked
countless hours with Attorney Gene Goldenziel to bring this matter
to a close. Gratitude is
also expressed to Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) and Bishop Mark (Arndt),
who clarified to the court the particular questions about church
history, and to Andrew Sabric, Andrew Paserp, Rose Telep, Fr.
Vladimir Shishkoff and Brother Isaac Lambertsen, who actively aided
in the court proceedings, as well as to the S.O.C. (Save Our Church)
organization, which was formed to raise the necessary funds to cover
the expenses incurred, and all those others too numerous to name.
In 1994, St. John the Baptist
Church was selected as the host parish for the Canonization of St.
Innocent and St. Nicholas of Japan, in addition to the celebration
of the 200th Anniversary of Orthodoxy in America.
Faithful from all across America flocked to Saint John’s
for these two events. In
1997, St. John the Baptist Church was elevated to Cathedral status
by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia. In December
2008, Archimandrite George (Schaefer) was elevated to the episcopacy
with the title “Bishop of Mayfield, Vicar Bishop of the Eastern
American Diocese”. St.
John’s is the Cathedral of Bishop George.
John’s continues to witness the Orthodox Faith in the Up-Valley of
Northeastern Pennsylvania under the Old Style Julian Calendar with a
full Liturgical schedule of services in English and Church Slavonic.
of St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Rev. Thophan Obushkevich 1891-1902
Rev. John Olshevky 1902-1904
Rev. Hieromonk Arseny (Chahovtsev) 1904-1908
Rev. Michael Skibinisky 1908-1911
Rev. Basil Vasilieff 1911-1912
Rev. Iona Milasevich 1914-1917
Rev. Joseph Feoronko 1917-1920
Rev. Basil Repella 1920-1936
V. Rev. Philip Pechinsky 1936-1952
V. Rev. Andrew Vanyush 1952-1958
Rev. Hieromonk Hilarion (Madison) 1958-1959
V. Rev. Basil Stroyen 1959-1961
V. Rev. Dimitri Ressitar 1961-1967
V. Rev. Andrew Vanyush 1967-1968
V. Rev. Dimitri Oselinsky 1968-1970
V. Rev. Archpriest John D. Sorochka