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Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Societies

 
 

 

 

 

 

Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Michael the Archangel Greek Catholic Church Sodality Society with Very Rev. Monsignor John A. Stim, V. F. - 1953 (St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic Cathedral) - Passaic, New Jersey

 

 

A popular society within the Byzantine Catholic church years ago was the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  While this society was open to men and women, it became a majority women’s group within the Byzantine Catholic Church. During 1948 in the United States there were three district unions which were the Western Pennsylvania Sodality Union, the Eastern District Sodality Union and the Coastal States Sodality Union.  Various clergy were in directors of these Unions.  The Western Pennsylvania Sodality Union’s director was Father Gregory Moneta of Ambridge Pennsylvania.  This group was comprised of churches in Ambridge, Braddock, Clairton, Erie, East Pittsburgh, Greenfield, Munahall, Homestead (Hungarian Greek Catholic Church), Johnstown, Leiserning, McKeesport, Punxsutawney, Rankin, Scottdale, Sheffield, Trauger, Uniontown, Wall and Windber.  This Union was very active is sponsoring missions and days of recollection at Saint Francis Retreat House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and retreats throughout the year held at Mount Saint Macrinia in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.


The Eastern District Sodality Union’s director was Father John Bilock of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  This group was comprised of churches in Beaver Meadows, Freeland, Hazleton, Lansford, Minersville, McAdoo, Pittston, Sheppton, Swoyerville and Wilkes-Barre, Pensylvania.  Various retreats were held at Saint Nicholas Orphanage, Elmhurst, Pennsylvania and “Our Lady’s Day’ which was an annual event held in May at the Harmon Geist Memorial Field in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  During May of 1948, the Eastern District Sodality Union formed a “Living Rosary” at Harmon Geist Memorial Field in Hazleton and the event was attended by hundreds of Byzantine Catholic faithful.  The Costal States Sodality Union was organized on November 9, 1947 at Saint Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Trenton, New Jersey and was under the direction of Father Paul Barnyock of Rahway, New Jersey.  This union was comprised of churches from Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, Byzantine Catholic and Hungarian Byzantine Catholic churches in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Passaic, New Jersey, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Rahway, New Jersey, Trenton, New Jersey and Yonkers, New York.   


The Northern Ohio and Michigan district union were under the direction of Father Nicholas Elko of Saint Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio.  This group was comprised of Saint Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio, Holy Ghost, Cleveland, Ohio, Saint Michael’s Hungarian Byzantine Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio and Saint Joseph’s Byzantine Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio.  Saint Joseph’s Sodality was organized on June 6, 1948 by Father Gregory Moneta and thirty one girls were members with Father John Bobby as director of their Sodality.

 

These Sodality groups were canonically erected by the Bishop and were granted permission to exist by the Prima Primaria Sodality in Rome.  Many indulgences were obtained by membership in the Sodality and the guiding principal was an association founded and approved by the Holy See.  The aims of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary were to foster in its members a devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, to help their neighbors to the best of their ability, to support the Byzantine Catholic Church and support the Catholic faith. 


The Society had a long history within the Byzantine Catholic Church.  It is interesting to note this society has a very long history within the Catholic Church.  It was begun in 1563 and various Saints were members, some being Saint Madeline Sophie Barat and Saint Bernadette Soubirous.  These societies grew in large numbers from the early days of the Byzantine Catholic Church in America until the 1980’s and were noted by the white dress and blue cape that young ladies wore as members.  Each society had different functions and many held bake sales, prayer services and were especially visible during May crowning services each year in their respective churches.  With so many who joined, groups were divided into junior and senior Sodality groups for girls and young ladies.  In 1965 Saint Michael’s Cathedral in Passaic, New Jersey had a total membership of 30 in their Senior Sodality Society alone.  Prior to the days of computers and “social media” these wonderful societies brought young people together in a spiritually based environment for various functions and religious based services.  Today, sadly, these societies have decreased along with membership in the Byzantine Catholic Church.  However, the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary is still found in many Catholic churches and there are three Diocesan Unions of Sodalities for Roman Catholics which are based in New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

 Saint Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church Sodality Society, Pittston, Pennsylvania - 1948