Prominent Persons of Rusyn Ancestry

 

 
 

Peter Bondra

Sandra Dee, (1942-2005)

Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, (1901-1927)

Adolf I. Dobriansky

Father Alexander Dzubay, (1857-1933)

Blessed Paul P. Gojdich, O.S.B.M, (1888-1960)

Blessed Bishop Basil Hopko (1904-1976)

Reverend Mother M. Macrina Melnychuk, O.S.B.M.

Cora-Ann Mihalik

Irena Nevická, (1886-1965)

Lizabeth Scott 

Tom Selleck (Is He or Isnt He?)

Sergeant Michael Strank (1919-1945)

Robert Urich, (1946-2002)

Andy Warhol, (1928-1987)

Peter J. Wilhousky (1902-1978)

 

 

 

Peter Bondra

Born in Lutsk, Ukraine in 1968. When he was three years old, his father moved the family back to his home country of Slovakia. Bondra’s father left his birthplace of Jakubany, Slovakia in 1947 in search of better work.

 

Peter Bondra is a former Slovak professional ice hockey player, who became the general manager of the Slovak national team. Bondra became the 37th player in NHL history to score 500 NHL goals. Bondra’s sons, David and Nick, are following in their father’s footsteps. David is a forward for the Chicago Steel and Nick is playing for the Washington Jr. Nationals.

 

Sandra Dee (1942-2005)

Authored by, Steven M. Osifchin

 

‘Sandra Dee’ was born Alexandria Zuck on April 23, 1942 in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey. Her parents were John Zuck and Mary Cimboliak. Her mother's side of the family was of Lemko / Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry.

 

Alexandria’s grandfather was Alexander Cimboliak an immigrant from the small village of Izby located in the former Galicia Region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it is the Grybow District of present day South East Poland.  The first mention of the village was in 1682 when the Bishop of Krakow donated a mill to the local priest. The Greek Catholic Church of St. Luke the Evangelist was constructed there in 1888. This masonry structure replaced a much older wooden church. A four room rectory was built in 1840. Until World War I there was a large bell in the church that dated from 1325. Today its whereabouts are unknown. A census of the village in the year 1785 indicates the population was comprised of 525 Greek Catholics, 15 Roman Catholics, and 9 Jews. In 1926 there were 804 Greek Catholics. The entire population of Greek Catholics switched to Orthodoxy in 1936.

 

Alexander was born in 1896 and came to this country between 1905 and 1911. He Resided in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey where he was employed as a laborer in a steel barrel factory.  Later, he worked as a riveter in the U.S. Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York. Alexander married Anna Plaskon about 1917. She was born in Bayonne in 1900. Her parents were Avtar Plaskon and Katherine Fezbyr/Frycki, immigrants also from the village of Izby. Alexander and Anna had only two children Marion "Mary" and Olga.  Alexander died in 1963 in New Jersey. His wife Anna passed away in 1986.

 

Mary Cimboliak married John Zuck of Bayonne. Their daughter Alexandria (Sandra Dee) was born in 1942.  When Alexandria was only five years old her parents divorced. Shortly after the divorce, her mother remarried a real estate developer, Eugene (Gene) Douvan. Mary died in Los Angeles, California in 1987. John Zuck died in 1966 in New Jersey.

 

Alexandria’s early life was marred by disappointment, abuse by her step-father, and bouts of depression. She also suffered at an early age from anorexia and bulimia. It has been written of her mother that she was obsessive, controlling, and overprotective. At four years of age her mother propelled Alexandria into the world of modeling. She made her debut in a Girl Scouts Magazine. By the time Alexandria was 11, she was reputedly earning $75,000 a year appearing in national magazines. This eventually led to television commercials and progressed to a film career.

 

Dee moved from New York to Hollywood in 1957. She was only 14 when she was signed by Universal Studios for her film debut in Until They Sail in 1957. The studio concocted the name 'Sandra Dee' for her by shortening her first name and using her stepfather's surname initial "D" to sign vouchers. After having studied at Hollywood Professional School, she graduated from University High, Los Angeles, in June 1958. Dee won a Golden Globe Award in 1959 as one of the year's most promising newcomers. Between 1960 and 1964, Dee was one of the top 10 film stars in the US after the successes of The Reluctant Debutante, Gidget, A Summer Place, the Tammy series and Come September. Dee was one of the most successful teenage movie stars of the 20th century. By 1965, she was the last major star still under an exclusive contract and was Universal Studios last actress under contract.

 

By the late 1960s her career was in decline, and a highly publicized marriage to the actor Bobby Darin ended in divorce. She rarely acted after this time. Her later years were marred by illness. Sandra Dee died on February 20, 2005 in Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California, where she had been treated for 14 days for complications from kidney disease and pneumonia. She was survived by her son Dodd Darin, his wife, and two grandchildren.

 

  

 

Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich (1901-1927)

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin

The Carpathian Connection wishes to extend our most respectful appreciation and gratitude to +Sister Marian Jose Smith, S.C., Vice Postulator, Sister Jane Teresa Culligan, S.C., Assistant Director of the Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer and The Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, New Jersey for graciously contributing research materials, publications and photographs for this essay. We respectfully dedicate this article to +Sister Marian Jose Smith, S.C., Vice Postulator, who passed away on October 2, 2012 and buried on October 8, 2012 in the Sisters of Charity cemetery. Sister Marian Jose would have been 97 years old on October 24th.

 

UPDATE: Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich Moves Closer To Sainthood

 

According to the February 7, 2014 Facts News announcement by the Sisters of Charity in New Jersey, Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich’s Mass for Beatification is scheduled for October 4, 2014 at Sacred Heart Basilica Cathedral in Newark, New Jersey.   

 

On December 18, 2013, Pope Francis approved the attribution of a miraculous healing to the intercession of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich.  This approval advances the way to her beatification. The miracle involves the restoration of perfect vision to a boy who was legally blind because of macular degeneration. Monsignor Giampaolo Rizzotti of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints added the miracle took place in 1964.

 

Miriam Teresa Demjanovich was born March 26, 1901 in Bayonne, New Jersey.  She was baptized by Father Theodore Stefan at St. John's Greek Catholic Church in Bayonne.

Sister Miraim was the daughter of Ruthenian immigrants Alexander and Johanna (Suchy) Demjanovich, her parents came to the United States in 1884 from Bardejov, Eastern Slovakia.  Sister Miriam Teresa’s father was born in Bardejov, house 103 on July 16, 1860. His baptismal record indicates his full name was Alexander Jacob. He was the son of Jacob Demjanovics, a teacher in Bardejov and Joanna Atrim. His parents were of the Greek Catholic faith. Alexander was baptized a Roman Catholic on July 19, 1860 in Bardejov by A.R.D. Cserviblra.  His Godparents were D. Szmolihosky, a Roman Catholic professor from Bardejov and Rosalia Gessert, also of the Roman Catholic faith.  Alexander was chrismated in the Greek Catholic faith on July 25, 1860 at the Greek Catholic Church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Resov by Father Antonius Keiss. Miriam Teresa’s mother Johanna was born in the village of Zabava in house 91. She was the daughter of Greek Catholic parents John Szuchi and Maria Rojkovics.  Alexander and Johanna were married on February 15, 1884 at the Greek Catholic Church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Resov, Eastern Slovakia. Father Augustinus Hvozdovits officiated at the ceremony.  The witnesses to the marriage were A.R.D. Ignatius Timko and Alexander Frohlich.[1]

Alexander and Johanna (Suchy) Demjanovich

Greek Catholic Church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Provided by, The Greek Catholic Archbishop of Presov

(Iconostasis) Greek Catholic Church of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Provided by, The Greek Catholic Archbishop of Presov

 

After Sister Miriam Teresa’s death, notes she authored about her family were found.  In recalling her parents, Sister Miriam Teresa stated that “Our home was ruled by love rather than fear” and that “only holy pictures were hung on the walls.”  She further mentioned “Votive lights were burned before shrines and statues of the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph.”[2]  She recalled that her father “was a master shoe maker” and that he made “shoes and boots for the wealthy at the resort.”[3]  She continued “Mother’s father was a master locksmith.  He made locks, for the people in the castles of the nobility and kept them in repair.  Both parents spoke German and Hungarian which were taught in the schools besides Slovak.”[4]  Sister Miriam Teresa’s father immigrated to the United States in 1884 and became a naturalized citizen in 1904.  Federal Census records denote they resided in Bayonne as of 1895. In 1900, the Federal Census record lists Sister Miriam Teresa’s father as being employed as a shoemaker, in 1910 as a Laborer in a Barrel Factory and in 1920 as a cooper in an Oil Refinery.

 

Alexander and Johanna had seven children, Miriam Teresa was the youngest.  She was baptized and chrismated in St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic church, Bayonne on Sunday, March 31, 1901.  Miriam Teresa grew up beside the oil refineries that mark the landscape of this portion of New Jersey.  Miriam Teresa attended grammar school and graduated Bayonne high school in January, 1917.  After graduation, Miriam Teresa wanted to enter the convent as a Carmelite nun.  However, due to her home situation, she could not become a nun; her mother was ill and needed care.  This was a difficult and challenging time for Miriam.  As mentioned in “A Biography, Sister Miriam Teresa, 1901-1927 by a Sister of Charity,  for the two years and eight months Teresa spent at home she “began each day with Mass and Holy Communion.  She washed, ironed, cooked, cleaned, took care of her invalid mother; in fact, she had the whole responsibility for the home, for her two older sisters were employed.”[5]

 

In recalling Miriam, her sister Mary stated “Teresa was active in all church affairs.  She was a member of the choir and of the Blessed Virgin’s Sodality.  She was secretary of the National Council of Catholic Women connected with the parish of Saint Vincent de Paul’s church, Bayonne.”[6] 

 

After her mother’s death in November, 1918, Miriam Teresa was encouraged to apply to the College of Saint Elizabeth at Convent Station, New Jersey.  Miriam Teresa still felt her mother’s loss deeply and later penned a number of poems, a portion of one which reads:  

 

 

 

 

Cold lies the earth above the mound,

Where gently dreams in peace profound,

In Death’s embrace at rest: asleep

Till God’s own angels from that deep

Repose shall waken her, my dear, dear mother!-[7] 

 

 

After her acceptance at the College of Saint Elizabeth in 1919, Miriam Teresa majored in literature and received a Baccalaureate in Letters on June 14, 1923.  She graduated with high honors and the coveted “Summa cum laude.” During the 1923-1924 semester she taught at the Academy of Saint Aloysius in Jersey City, New Jersey.  During her time at the college, many individuals remarked on Miriam’s humility and genuine piety.  She could be found kneeling in the college chapel at all hours and was very devoted to praying the rosary.  She also revered the Blessed Sacrament and stated “our participation in this Divine Gift is the receiving of Holy Communion…And in this, the partaking of the Blessed Sacrament, the sacrifice-banquet, we have a most powerful aid to sanctification.  God Himself comes to perfect us, if we but so will.”[8]  Other students sought her out to speak of their problems as she always had a kind word and was very comforting. 

 

Miriam Teresa longed to enter religious life and felt she was called to the Carmelite order prior to enrolling in college.  However, after consulting with her family, they offered her the thought she should use her education to serve God in a teaching order.  After much reflection and prayer, she decided to neglect her own will.  After being advised to make a Novena in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary to give her guidance; she decided to enter the community of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth at Convent Station on February 11, 1925. Sister Miriam Teresa never received an official transfer of rite. She remained a Greek Rite Catholic while serving as a sister in a Roman Rite community.  This was a perfect example of the well known statement in Ut Unum Sint, no. 54, by Blessed Pope John Paul II “The Church must breathe with her two lungs!” (i.e. East and West).  However, one last test awaited her.  Three days prior to leaving home for the convent, her father died.  Miriam Teresa was given this trial before her entrance into religious life.  After her father’s funeral on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Miriam Teresa entered the convent.  As a postulant, she was given the name Sister Miriam Teresa. The name Miriam was in honor of the Blessed Mother and Teresa honored her Patron Saint, Teresa of Avila. 

  

Sister Miriam Teresa’s literary talents were apparent from the moment she entered the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth convent.  Not long after her entrance, she was asked before Christmas to organize a play by the postulants with herself as director.  She wrote “The Seventieth Week.”  This play would be performed later in 1931 along with another play she authored “The Leper Colony.”  “The Seventieth Week” would be circulated as time went on and performed in numerous schools and even in a number of seminaries.  With the blessing of Father Benedict Bradley along with the full permission of the convent’s Mother Superior, Sister Miriam Teresa wrote a series of conferences.  Much later, these conferences would be published and entitled “Greater Perfection.”  Sister Miriam Teresa made her profession of vows however her time in the community was brief.  In November, 1926 Sister Miriam Teresa became ill. 

 

Sister Miriam Teresa was sent to Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey.  Diagnosed with tonsillitis and hypertension, Sister Miriam Teresa was very weak and did not receive an operation for a few weeks.  The hospital staff did not appear to think Sister Miriam Teresa’s condition serious.  At the end of December she returned to the convent.  However, she continued to fail and was sent back to the hospital as appendicitis was suspected.  As her condition deteriorated, her brother Charles who was an ordained Roman Catholic priest, requested special permission for Sister Miriam Teresa to profess final vows.  After this she seemed to improve.  However, at the beginning of May she had a severe attack of appendicitis. Sister Miriam Teresa suffered greatly during this period.  In a short time, it was evident to everyone Sister Miriam Teresa was dying.  Present at her death were the Mother Superior, several of the Sisters who staffed the hospital and Sister Miriam Teresa’s sister Anna who was a nurse.  Her final moments were recorded by the Mother Superior of the Community “We assembled in her room, knelt around her bed, watched her last look and heard her last sigh, not exactly as sigh.  She closed her eyes, breathed gently, and then entered into the Vision Beatific.  In her hand she clasped the crucifix containing the relic of the true Cross, which her Spiritual Director had given her on Holy Thursday.”[9]  Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich died at Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Elizabeth, New Jersey on May 8, 1927.  She was only 26 years old.  Sister was buried on a Wednesday, the Holy Day of St. Joseph, and was interred at Holy Family Cemetery at Convent Station.

 

Following her death, people reported healings and answered prayers due to her intercession. An example of this occurred in 1947. A woman from Clifton, New Jersey entered the hospital for a major operation. Following her operation she developed post operative pneumonia and was on her deathbed. The medical staff considered her condition hopeless. Prayers and sacrifices were offered to Sister Miriam Teresa for this woman’s recovery. Her condition rapidly improved and she was deemed by the doctor’s to be cured. Documentation of this and other cures were collected on an ongoing basis by the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth with the intent to be submitted to Rome.  One case in particular attributed to her intercession occurred in 1963. A six year old boy from Teaneck, New Jersey who was classified as legally blind miraculously had his sight restored. This case was meticulously investigated.  Testimony and other background information was compiled and forwarded to Rome for final review of this case by the medical board at the Vatican. 

 

On December 11, 1945 The Most Reverend Thomas H. McLaughlin the former Bishop of Paterson initiated the study of the case of Sister Miriam Teresa. A decree was promulgated and read in all parishes of the Diocese of Patterson. This decree requested that all writings and cures concerning the life and virtues of Sister Miriam Teresa be forwarded to the diocesan chancery for authentication. His successors Bishop Boland in 1947 and Bishop McNulty in 1952 continued this sacred task.  A major development came in 1955 as it was determined there should be a vice-postulator in the country where this cause began.  After discussion, it was agreed to have three vice-postulators.  The Very Reverend Stephen W. Findlay, O.S.B., was named for Catholics of the Roman Rite, the Reverend George Kandra was named for Catholics of the Greek (Byzantine) Rite and the Right Reverend Monsignor Andrew V. Stefan was installed as coordinator at the Chancery offices in Paterson, New Jersey.  One item of great encouragement was received on April 20, 1955.  His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, imparted his Apostolic Blessing on publications issued by the Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer. 

 

Numerous spiritual and temporal favors continued to be reported as the years progressed. This information was added continuously to materials previously gathered which sought to advance Sister Miriam Teresa’s cause. An Apostolic Process was held from May 18, 1981 to December 18, 1981.  Information was provided by Father Ambrose Eszer, O.P., Relator General of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.  In 1989 Sister Francis Maria Cassidy, of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, began work on a positio, the spiritual biography the Vatican requires of all candidates. In 1998 she and her co-author, Sister Eileen Dolan, delivered the 500-page document to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In 2004 an additional 500-page tome was delivered to Rome, the determination of a medical tribunal on the boy’s case convened by the Archdiocese of Newark.

 

Numerous bishops, clergy, religious and lay members of both the Byzantine Rite and Roman Rite promoted Sister Miriam Teresa Teresa’s cause for canonization as a Catholic saint continuously for a long period of time.

 

An important development in this process came on July 8, 2005 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey.  A ceremony was held to close the investigative process for the beatification of the Servant of God Sister Miriam Teresa.  Archbishop John J. Myers signed and sealed all final documents which would be submitted to the Vatican.  A mass was held in Our Lady’s Chapel in the Cathedral after the sealing of documentation.  The information was then taken in person to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C.  The documentation was then transported to Rome by the Nuncio and given to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.  After review of all gathered testimony, information and other important documents, all that remained was the determination of the medical board.  In February, 2012, a group of Cardinals met to discuss the virtues of Sister Miriam Teresa’s case. 

 

The cause of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, the daughter of immigrants from Bardejov, Eastern Slovakia, was presented to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.  On Tuesday, May 10, 2012, it was announced at the Vatican Pope Benedict XVI elevated Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich from her previous classification as a “Servant of God” to “Venerable.”  The announcement was made by Archbishop John Meyers of Newark, New Jersey.  A cardinal recommended that Sister Demjanovich be elevated and the Pope agreed.  The process for the cause of Sister Demjanovich is moving forward and the next step is to be elevated to the title of “Blessed.”  After this, the final step will be that Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a Carpatho-Rusyn Greek (Byzantine Rite) Catholic nun, will be canonized a saint of the Catholic Church. 

As mentioned in a recent bulletin of the Sister Miriam Teresa Prayer League “Perhaps the most important aspect of the life and beatification of Sister Miriam Teresa is her message to all the faithful.  She believed that God’s purpose in her life was to remind us that we are all called to sanctity, regardless of our state in life.”[10]

 

On Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 4:00 PM in the Holy Family Chapel on the grounds of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity in Convent Station, New Jersey there will be a mass of Thanksgiving. The mass will be celebrated in honor of the elevation of Sister Miriam Teresa who was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XVI.  Five Medical Doctors in Rome will have a final scrutiny of the documents for the miracle. If these are passed on October 18th, 2012 her name will be given to Pope Benedict XVI to be declared “Blessed”. In the future a mass will be scheduled for Sister Miriam Teresa's Beatification. This Mass will take place in the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark, New Jersey.

 

 

 

 Prayer for Beatification

 

 

Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, Whom Sister Miriam Teresa loved so ardently, grant that we, like her, may become ever more conscious of Thy Divine Presence within our souls.  We implore Thee to show signs that Thy humble servant enjoys glory with Thee in Heaven, and to hasten the day when we may render her a public tribute of our veneration and love.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

 

 

For those interested in further information and publications regarding Sister Miriam Teresa, please contact The Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer, P.O. Box 476, Convent Station, New Jersey 07961-0476 http://www.scnj.org/

1 Familysearch.org Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592-1910, Greek Catholic, Bardejov, Resov
2Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 2, Convent Station, February 11, 1980
3 Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 2, Convent Station, February 11, 1980
4 Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 2, Convent Station, February 11, 1980
5 A Biography, Sister Miriam Teresa, 1901-1927, By A Sister of Charity, page 34, 1957
6 A Biography, Sister Miriam Teresa, 1901-1927, By A Sister of Charity, page 36, 1957
7 A Biography, Sister Miriam Teresa, 1901-1927, By A Sister of Charity, page 38, 1957
8 Greater Perfection, Conferences of Sister Miriam Teresa, pagers 98-99, 1946
9 A Biography, Sister Miriam Teresa, 1901-1927, By a Sister of Charity, page 209, 1957
10 The Sister Miriam Teresa League of Prayer Bulletin, Convent Station, N.J., page 10, March, 2012

 

Adolf I. Dobriansky

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin

Adolf I. Dobriansky was born on December 20, 1817 in the Ruthenian village of Rudlov located in the former Zemplen County of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today this village is in the Vranov nad Topl’ou District of the Slovak Republic. He was born into a priestly family descending from a long line of Ruthenian Greek Catholic priests. His father, Father Jan Dobransky was the resident parish priest at the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Greek Catholic Church in Rudlov from the year 1817 to 1824. His great grandfather Vasil Dobransky also served this parish from the year 1726 to 1746.  His father baptized and crismated Adolf at this same church. His parents chose DC de Forgach and his wife Juliana de Forgach as Adolf’s godparents.  His mother Charlotta Szepeshazy was from the town of Levoca, where her father served as mayor.  Jan and Charlotta were married on September 12, 1812 at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint James in Levoca.  The marriage record states Jan was a cleric from the Diocese of Mukachevo. He was born born in Uzhhrod.  Charlotta was born in Levoca.  Jan was 23 years old and Charlotta was 21 years old.  They were married by Father John Elrenspeng.

At the age of four Adolf went to live with his grandmother in Levoca. It was here that he would begin his early education. He later attended high school in Levoca, Roznave and Miskolc. He furthered his education by studying philosophy and law.  Adolph also studied various languages.  He was proficient in Slovak, Ruthenian, Latin, Hungarian, Greek and French.  He completed his studies and graduated from the Mining Academy in Banska Stiavnica.  Adolf eventually became one of the most important mining engineers within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  While employed in Banska Stiavnica as an engineer he married Eleonora Milviusovou in 1842.  They had ten children, five sons and five daughters.  During the 1850’s Adolf was chosen as a deputy for the Hungarian Diet (parliament) under the imperial system.  In this position, he was the representative of Slovaks and Ruthenians within the Empire.  In recognition of his achievements, Emperor Franz Jozef awarded him the noble title “von Sacurov” and he then used the name Adolf Dobriansky von Sacurov. Adolf moved to Buda in Hungary where he was named the Secretary Alternate for the Austrian government.  He later he moved to Varadin and served as Minister Counselor.  During this period he worked tirelessly to build rail lines within the empire and began promoting the rights of Slovaks and Ruthenians (Rusnaks).  He began to write, was a publisher and authored the essay “Synopsis” which was printed in 1861.  Adolf urged equality for Slovaks and Ruthenians.  He worked and lobbied constantly that these national languages would be preserved within the framework of Hungarian administration.  During 1864 he was called to Vienna to serve as a counselor for the Hungarian Court.  In 1865 he began the Greek Catholic “Association of Saint John the Baptist” which was based in Presov, Slovakia. 

 

Adolph continued his work on behalf of Slovak and Ruthenian rights.  He was promoted and offered a minster’s seat in 1867.  However, he declined to accept this position.  He relocated to the village of Certizne and continued working as an author and publisher.  While residing in Certizne he educated residents on cultivating land, improved farming techniques and expanded the practice of grafting and planting of various fruit trees.  Adolph also published books for churches and schools.  He continued in Certizne as a national revivalist for the rights and education of Slovaks and Ruthenians.    

 

During the final years of his life he moved to Innsbruck, upper Austria, to reside with his daughter.  While there he died of natural causes due to old age on March 19, 1901.  According to his wishes as stated in his Last Will and Testament, he requested his body be returned to Certizne for burial next to his wife.  His funeral was served by twelve Greek Catholic priests at the village church on March 25, 1901.  He was buried near another Slovak and Ruthenian national activist, Greek Catholic priest Julius Stavrovsky-Popradov.  Adolph Dobriansky’s grave is covered with a simple white marble cover.  His monument is engraved with a three bar cross and lists his name, dates of birth, death and status as a national activist and author. 

 

Father Alexander Dzubay, (1857-1933)

Authored by, Joy E. Kovalycsik

 

Father Alexander Dzubay was born in Bereg County on February 12, 1857. Bereg County was one of the oldest districts in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1910 the ethnic identity of this region was split between Ruthenians, Slovaks, Hungarians and Jewish residents. The religious affiliations listed were Greek Catholic 49.7%, Calvinist 25.9%, Jewish 14.2%, Roman Catholic 9.7%, Lutheran .4% and Unitarian .1%. There were no other religious affiliations noted for this district. During 1920, the Treaty of Trianon assigned most of the territory to Czechoslovakia which is present day Slovakia. After World War II the Czechoslovak portion of the district was incorporated into present day Ukraine. The southwestern part, now Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg, was placed into present day Hungary.

 

Alexander came from a family that served for generations as Greek Catholic priests.  His mother was Justine and his father, the Very Reverend Stephen Dzubay, was ordained a Greek Catholic priest in 1855 in Uzhhorod.  Later, he would become Diocesan Dean in 1898.  Alexander would follow his father into the priesthood.  After his initial education in Kalnik, he was sent to Uzhhorod to the theological seminary for his priestly education in 1880.  He also undertook additional educational courses in Budapest, present day Hungary and in Spisska Nova Ves, present day Slovakia.  During his time at Seminary he met another student, Father Alexis Toth.  The association with Alexis Toth would be a source of great heartache to Father Alexander in later years.  Prior to his ordination, Father Alexander married Elizabeth Csucska on March 3, 1881.  She was the daughter of Greek Catholic priest Father Andrei Csucska.  Father Alexander was ordained by the Bishop of Uzhhorod, John Kovach Pasztely in 1881.  His first assignment was as parish priest for a Greek Catholic church in Lokhovo.  However, tragedy struck early in his priestly vocation.  On November 4, 1881, eight short months after his marriage, his beloved wife Elizabeth died.  After this sorrowful time, Father Alexander served his father as an assistant priest at Holy Trinity Greek Catholic Church in Uzhhorod.

 

In 1888, Father Alexander was instructed to leave for the United States.  At this period, thousands of individuals were immigrating and many were Greek Catholic.  The most important undertaking for these new immigrants was to build a church to worship in their centuries old faith.  Father Alexander was one of the first Greek Catholic priests to arrive in America.  Others who joined him were Fathers Eugene Volkay, Stephen Jackovics, George Hruska and Gabriel Vislocky.  The first meeting of Greek Catholic clergy in America took place in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania during October 17-19, 1890.  A number of issues were addressed including a proposal to send requests to the Bishops of Presov, (Slovakia) Lviv, (Ukraine) and Munkacs (Hungary) requesting more Greek Catholic clergy.  Later, Father Alexander would become the senior Greek Catholic priest in America and be appointed Vicar General for all Greek Catholic churches.  Upon arrival, Father Alexander immediately began to assist in the establishment of new churches.  He organized Holy Assumption of Mary Greek Catholic Church in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania during 1888.  In 1890 he assisted in the organization of Saint Michaels Greek Catholic Church (later Cathedral) in Passaic, New Jersey.  Father Alexander offered the first Greek Catholic mass held in New York City (performed in the basement of St. Brigid’s church) on April 19, 1890 and founded Saint Stephen’s Greek Catholic Church, Leisenring, Pennsylvania (1892).  He also assisted with other churches in Trenton, New Jersey, Streator, Illinois, Hazelton, Scranton, Johnstown, Homestead and Braddock, Pennsylvania. 

 

Father Alexander worked tirelessly to support the Greek Catholic faithful.  He was fluent in Latin, Rusyn, Hungarian, German and became well versed in English.  Also, his work in the coal mining towns of Pennsylvania was particularly appreciated given the difficult conditions found there.  In December of 1891 a second meeting of all Greek Catholic clergy was held in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.  At this time there were approximately 150,000 Greek Catholics in America.  After much discussion it was decided to form a fraternal society, the Greko Katoliceskoje Sojedinenije.  At this time, they also affirmed their loyalty to the Holy See.  They did not wish to see an escalation of clergy and faithful who, for various reasons, would leave as Father Alexis Toth did for the Orthodox Church.  These were difficult times as the Russian government was sending approximately $75,000 (roughly $1,700,000 today) per year to America for propagating their faith and ethnic background.  Father Alexis Toth, Father Alexander’s former classmate, abandoned the Greek Catholic Church for Orthodoxy.  He began his work by drawing Greek Catholics to his opinions on religious issues.  Due to this and other reasons, the Bishop of Presov, Bishop John Valyi, excommunicated Father Toth.  Much later, Father Toth would petition the Serbian Patriarch to accept him and his followers into a “Hungarian Parish.” However, the Patriarch replied he had no Hungarian Greek Catholic parish and could not accommodate the request.  Father Toth would continue to expand his work while remaining within the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.

 

During this confusing period, Father Alexander was caught up in disputes and religious tensions which were taking place.  His experiences with Father Toth’s decisions gave him the view his church was not permitted to fully express their traditions.  Also, many Roman Catholic clergy of this era were not accepting of the Greek Catholic Church.  Tension mounted with issue piling upon issue.  Members were torn over a host of situations and the clergy became involved in various disputes.  Having experienced Father Toth’s departure, Father Alexander, who had done so much to promote the Greek Catholic Church in America, made an emotional decision.  He left the Greek Catholic Church and joined the Orthodox Church.  On July 30, 1916, he took the name “Stephen” after his father who was a Greek Catholic priest and became a monk.  On July 31, 1916, the Orthodox Church elevated him to Archimandrite.

Father Alexander’s rise in the Orthodox Church was immediate.  On August 15, 1916 he was consecrated to the Episcopate by Archbishop Evdokim and was afforded the title of Vicar of the North American Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Carpatho-Russians. Father Alexander, now called Bishop Stephen in the Orthodox Church, followed the lead of Father Toth and influenced a number of parishes to join the Orthodoxy.  Some of these churches were in Perryopolis and Monongahela, Pennsylvania, Elizabeth, New Jersey, Cleveland, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, Utica, New York and Witham, West Virginia.  The Russian Orthodox Diocese comprised approximately 175 churches.  Of this number, approximately 160 were churches with an original Greek Catholic membership.  In 1918 Father Alexander was appointed to work closely with Bishop Alexander Nemolovsky to oversee the administration of the Diocese as a “senior auxiliary.”  Later, Metropolitan Platon took control of the North American Diocese in 1923.  There were a number of disagreements with this appointment and Father Alexander was one of those voices.  He had been a close associate of Bishop Alexander as senior auxiliary and worked hard to persuade those who were Greek Catholic to join the Orthodox Church.  It was his opinion he should have been nominated for this position.  During October, 1922 with much confusion in this diocese, Father Alexander’s view was that he was the head of the North American Diocese.  In conjunction with Bishop Gorazd, he consecrated Archimandrite Adam to oversee an independent Diocese of “Carpatho-Russians.” However, this decision was not recognized by those who were in charge of the Diocese.  After all these events transpired, Father Alexander came to a final conclusion.  His decision had been wrong.      

 

On May 12, 1924 Greek Catholic Bishop Stephen Soter Ortynsky made a statement that Father Alexander never found peace with his prior decision.  He also mentioned a request to be accepted back into the Greek Catholic Church.  This petition was sent directly to the Holy Father in Rome.  Pope Pius XI granted Father Alexander’s request for his return to the Greek Catholic Church.  In his petition, Father Alexander expressed the regret he had caused scandal to faithful Greek Catholics and asked forgiveness for all his actions.  This petition was signed on May 15, 1924 in Yonkers, New York.  Father Alexander relocated to Graymoor Roman Catholic Monastery located in Garrison, New York for a time of prayer and rest.  Deciding he wished to retire due to his advancing age, Father Alexander stayed at the monastery.  He had served a short period of eight years in the Orthodox Church before returning to the faith he was baptized in. 

 

Father Alexander Dzubay was visiting Mr. and Mrs. George Varga, Jr., in Trenton, New Jersey when he died unexpectedly on April 2, 1933.  He was 76 years old and a few days away from  celebrating the 50th anniversary of his priesthood.  It was decided Father Alexander would lie in state at St. Mary’s Greek Catholic Church in Trenton.  He was also given a solemn requiem high mass as directed by the Greek Catholic bishop located in Homestead, Pennsylvania at that time.  Father Alexander was buried in Saint Mary’s Greek Catholic Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey.  Saint Mary’s was one of the parishes he helped organize.  Many of the Greek Catholic churches he founded upon arrival in America are still in existence today.  They stand as a permanent reminder of his devotion to the Greek Catholic faith.

 

 

 

Blessed Paul P. Gojdich, O.S.B.M (1888-1960)

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin

Bishop (now Blessed) Paul P. Gojdich, O.S.B.M who was born into a priestly family on July 17, 1888 in Rus’ki Pakljany, Saros district.  He graduated from the gymnasium in Presov and continued his theological studies at the Central Seminary in Budapest.  He was ordained a celibate priest on August 27, 1911.  In 1948 a vicious attack was begun against the Greek Catholic church by the Communist Government and Bishop Gojdich was adjudged a “traitor and enemy of the people.”  On April 28, 1950 the Greek Catholic Church was liquidated on orders from Moscow and Bishop Gojdich was imprisoned.  He was later tried for treason and espionage, his sentence was life in prison.  Bishop Gojdich endured all these trials with patience, faith and true humility.  He was interrogated numerous times and the authorities made all types of promises if he would only “sign” and become Orthodox, they even promised to make him a patriarch.  Bishop Gojdich never consented to these false promises. 

In prison, the Bishop suddenly became mysteriously ill and was taken to the prison hospital.  His condition became critical and his pain increased.  His life ended on July 17, 1960 in the prison of Leopoldov, Slovakia.  He was only 72 years old.

Bishop Paul Gojdich was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 4, 2001.  The Pope said he wished to honor Bishop Gojdich’s lifelong behavior and mentioned that even during the most dangerous periods of his life; he remained loyal to the principles of the Greek Catholic Church and the Apostolic See in Rome.   

Also, many are not aware that The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem in 2007 accorded Bishop Paul Gojdich the title “Righteous among the Nations.” He is credited with saving the lives of the Rabbi of Kosice, Jossi Steiner, Marianne Zack and many others from certain death during the Nazi occupation of Slovakia.  After the war, those who were saved by Bishop Gojdich offered to help him immigrate to the west due to the Communist regime’s takeover of Slovakia.  Bishop Gojdich refused to abandon those who needed his help and leave his position as Greek Catholic Bishop of Presov.  When he was put into prison the Jewish people he saved tried once again to help him and send a letter of support to the President of Czechoslovakia, Antonin Zapotocky on May 15, 1956 but it was ignored.

The Bishop risked his own life to save anyone who asked for his assistance.  He never thought of his own safety and helped everyone.  When the deportations of Jews took place in Slovakia he was horrified.  He wrote a strong letter to each parish in his diocese against this injustice.  He reminded people of the basic principle that every human being has equal rights when he faces God.

Blessed Bishop Basil Hopko (1904-1976)

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin 

Basil Hopko was born in the Carpatho-Rusyn village of Hrabske, Slovakia. He was the second child and only son of Basil Hopko a local farmer and Anna Petrenko. He was born on April 21, 1904 and baptized at St. Dimitri the Martyr Greek Catholic Church in Hrabske. His sister Mary Hopko was born in 1900.  His father Basil Hopko Sr. was born in Hrabske. He was the son of John Hopko from the village of Vysny Tvarozec, Slovakia and Maria Mihalik of the village Hrabske. His wife Anna Petrenko was also born in Hrabske, the daughter of Demetri Petrenko and Martrona Hnath.

In 1905 Basil Hopko, Sr. died in a tragic accident leaving his young bride with the sole responsibility of raising two young children. In 1908 with the hope of securing a future for herself and her children she immigrated to America. Basil and his sister Mary remained behind to be cared for by their grandparents.  When Basil was approximately 9 years old he was sent to reside with his uncle, Father Demeter Petrenko in the village of Olsavica. Father Petrenko was the resident priest of Saint Nicholas Greek Catholic Church in Olsavica.  Basil assisted his uncle with church services and as time went by his vocation grew. He received his elementary school education in Bardejov.  After studying theology for two years, Basil was drafted during the First World War.  He worked as an assistant military chaplain and then was granted military leave to continue his studies for the priesthood.

He attended school in Presov and graduated with honors in 1923.  Basil wanted to join his mother in America.  However, his health was poor and he required a number of operations.  Recalling this time, his memoirs stated his full recovery was a “miracle” which he felt was due to a Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  During this Novena he promised if cured he would become a celibate priest.  Basil applied and was admitted to the Greek Catholic Seminary in Presov and graduated in 1928.  On February 3, 1929 he was ordained by Bishop Paul Gojdich.    

Father Basil’s first assignment was as a parish administrator in Prague.  He served in this capacity until 1934.  Father Basil was instrumental in the construction of a Greek Catholic church in Prague and served as its parish priest from 1934 to 1936.  He worked tirelessly to assist orphans, those who were poor, unemployed and founded the Greek Catholic Youth Union and the Movement of Greek Catholic Students.  In 1936 Father Basil was transferred back to Slovakia.  He taught at Presov's Eparchial Seminary. He had already begun graduate studies at Charles University while in Prague completed his Doctor of Theology in 1940 at Comenius University in Bratislava.  During World War II Father Basil continued to work among those who were in material and spiritual need. During these difficult days he assisted the Bishop with his hard work, prayers and support. 

Bishop Paul Gojdich appointed him Spiritual Director of the Greek Catholic Seminary and the administrator of all Greek Catholic schools in Presov.  It was also during this time Father Basil was granted the title of Monsignor.  Due to his dedication and hard work, Bishop Gojdich promoted him to the position of Bishop’s Secretary in 1941.  Father Basil was a well known author and editor.  He penned numerous articles, essays and in 1946 was named the editor of “Blahovistnik” (The Gospel Messenger).  Father Basil was very devoted to teaching and worked tirelessly to ensure Greek Catholics had access to literature about their faith.

Realizing a need for help in administering the Presov Eparchy, Bishop Gojdich petitioned the Holy See to grant an auxiliary bishop.  Pope Pius XII approved this appointment on January 2, 1947.  Basil Hopko was installed as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Eparchy of Presov on May 11, 1947.  The main celebrants at his installation at Saint John’s Greek Catholic Cathedral in Presov were Bishop Paul Gojdich, Archbishop Josef Beran of Prague and Bishop Joseph Carsky of Kosice. 

Bishop Hopko assisted Bishop Gojdich in his duties.  He would visit parishes, give lectures and encouraged all Greek Catholics to remain firm in the faith of their ancestors. He continued in performing his Episcopal duties but no one imagined the terror and cruel persecution that would visit them.  On April 28, 1950, the Communist government “liquidated” the Greek Catholic Church at the “Sobor (council) of Presov”.  This council was a bogus assembly.  It was convened without the presence of Bishops who were canonically enthroned.  A proclamation was published stating the Greek Catholic Church did not exist.  All Greek Catholic priests and members were to be transferred, along with all church property and holdings, to the Orthodox Church which was administered by Moscow.  The shock and sadness of the Greek Catholic faithful was overwhelming.  Bishops Gojdich and Hopko did all they could to comfort and support their members under these terrible circumstances.   

 

Bishop Paul Gojdich and Bishop Basil Hopko stood firm against the injustices that multiplied.  Since they refused to cooperate and renounce their Greek Catholic faith, both were imprisoned.  Bishop Gojdich was given a life sentence.  On April 28, 1950 Bishop Hopko was arrested, starved and tortured for a number of weeks.  His jailers constantly tried to convince him to join the Orthodox church and gain his freedom.  Each time they tried this, the Bishop refused.  The jailers and government became angry they could not persuade him to do as they wanted.  Bishop Hopko was transferred to the central investigatory prison in Ruzin near Prague.  He was confined to a dark cell and they forced him to keep walking, without rest, for 122 days.  Bishop Hopko remembered these days by saying “I kept praying for strength to persevere and to remain faithful to the Catholic Church”.  Finally, he was brought to trial on October 24, 1951 in Bratislava and received a sentence of 15 years, a confiscation of all his property and a fine of $20,000 for “subversive activity.” He received this sentence all because he would not renounce the Catholic faith.  Once incarcerated, his jailers had no pity on Bishop Hopko and he was constantly transferred from one prison to another.  He did not know what would happen from day to day but was sustained during these trying times by his faith and constant prayer.  He would recall the time spent in prison as a “higher education in humility.”  He tried as best he could to be of service to those who were in need be they believers in God or not.   

After years of imprisonment and neglect, Bishop Hopko’s health deteriorated.  In 1964 he was transferred from prison to a retirement home in Osek, Bohemia.  He was constantly under surveillance and his health continued to decline.  In the town of Osek, there were 160 elderly Sisters of various religious orders who had been forced from their Slovak, Hungarian and Czech convents.  Bishop Hopko was overjoyed to offer spiritual assistance to the sisters since he was fluent in all three languages.  His kindness to their needs impressed every nun who was acquainted with him.    In 1968 the Communist government during the “Prague Spring” agreed to restore the Greek Catholic Church.  Bishop Hopko was released from Osek and on June 13, 1968 the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Presov was officially recognized.  Unfortunately, Bishop Hopko was not permitted to resume his duties as Bishop of Presov by the government.

While Bishop Hopko’s Eparchy and health were taken from him, they could not remove his faith in the Greek Catholic Church. He continued to pray and offer his assistance to whoever he could but, Bishop Hopko’s life journey was near its end.  He was residing in Presov at this time and was 72 years old.  On Friday, June 23, 1976, Bishop Basil Hopko celebrated his last Mass and spoke for a time with Sister Simeon.  Later that afternoon, at 3 p.m., he died.  The Funeral Mass for Bishop Hopko was held at Saint John’s Greek Catholic Cathedral in Presov.  He was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral church and his funeral was attended by large numbers of clergy and the faithful.  On July 2, 1995 His Holiness, Pope John Paul II gave a sermon on his visit to Slovakia and recalled all those, including Bishop Hopko, who had suffered for their faith. On Sunday, September 14, 2003, Pope John Paul II beatified Bishop Basil Hopko at a Mass in Bratislava, Slovakia. 

The following images are provided by, The Greek Catholic Archbishop of Presov

Prayer to Blessed Bishop Basil Hopko:

O Christ, our Lord and Savior, in Your boundless love for the human race You assured us that "whatever we will ask You, You will do it for us". Encouraged by your living promise, we humbly ask You to glorify Your faithful servant, Bishop Basil Hopko, who by his trials and tribulations gave living testimony to his complete trust in You, hoping to receive from You "a great reward in Heaven".

Inspired by his Trust in You, we humbly implore you to hear our prayer, and through the intercession of that Man of Hope, Bishop Basil, grant us
(here make your request).

For you, O Christ our God, are Help to the helpless and Hope to the hopeless, and we render glory to You with Your Eternal Father and All-Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.

 

Reverend Mother M. Macrina Melnychuk, O.S.B.M.

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin 

 

Reverend Mother M. Macrina Melnychuk was born on May 5, 1879 in *Czernovitz, Austro-Hungary.  At the time of Mother Macrina’s birth, census figures list a population in Czernovitz of approximately 34,000.  The city excelled in educational and cultural institutions.  Many businesses, theaters and governmental buildings earned Czernovitz the name “Little Vienna” due to the architectural style utilized.  Czernovitz experienced considerable prosperity and was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian crown land of Bukovina.  Mother Macrina entered the Order of the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great on December 1, 1896.  The Basilian Order was always closely associated with the Greek Catholic Church.  This order has many who are venerated including Blessed Bishop Paul Gojdic of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Presov, Slovakia and Blessed Josaphata (Michaelina) Hordashevska, the founder of the Ukrainian Catholic Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate community from Lviv, Ukraine.  By the turn of the century large numbers of Greek Catholic immigrants arrived in the United States. Greek Catholic Churches were established as early as 1890. In 1911, Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil also began arriving in America to serve the Greek Catholic faithful.        

 

In 1913 Mother Macrina left the Basilian Convent in **Przemysl, Galicia (Austro-Hungary) to come to America. Her traveling companions were two sisters from the Basilian Convent in ***Lviv.  They arrived at the Port of New York on December 21, 1913. The sisters were joining other nuns at the Convent of Saint Basil, 1816 North Seventh Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The sisters worked tirelessly to serve wherever they could. Their main focus was education and the care of the growing immigrant orphan population.

 

In 1920 The Very Reverend Gabriel Martyak, the Greek Catholic Apostolic Administrator, called upon Mother Macrina Melynychuk to come and serve the Ruthenian Greek Catholics in Ohio.  On January 19, 1921 Mother Macrina Melnychuk, Mother Macrina Marie Hardi, and Sister Euphemia Kurylas left Pennsylvania and began a new convent at Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Church in Cleveland.  As of April of 1921 five new postulants applied for entrance into the community. Their convent was placed under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province.  Later, the sisters would relocate to Elmhurst, Pennsylvania where they began Saint Nicholas Orphanage. In 1932 they moved once more to St. Basil’s Convent in Factoryville, Pennsylvania. Along with their dedication to the care of orphans the sisters also began establishing schools for the Greek Catholic youth.  Education would become a major cornerstone of their order. In years to come they would teach at numerous parochial schools throughout the East Coast. 

 

In the early 1930’s an increase in new vocations brought about the need for a larger facility.  In 1934 the Oak Hill estate of Josiah Van Kirk Thompson which included over 1,000 acres of land and a large mansion house was purchased by the order. This new monastery was dedicated as Mount Saint Macrina. This established the community as a major order within the Ruthenian Greek Catholic church.  Buildings on the estate were converted for various purposes and one was renovated for use as a girl’s high school.  With their convent established, Mother Macrina and the sisters began a very important ministry that continues to this day. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with the dedication of their monastery, the date of September 3, 1934 marked the first Pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  In Europe, pilgrimages (Otpust) are very important to those of the Greek Catholic faith.  Mother Macrina realized this spiritual need had to be replicated in America.  During 1935, His Holiness, Pope Pius XI, sent Mother Macrina and the Sisters an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help so devotion to the Virgin Mary under this title would be promoted.  In 1936, Mother Macrina oversaw the development and later, in 1939, the opening of Calvary Cemetery at Mount Saint Macrina.

 

The annual Labor Day pilgrimage would continue to expand throughout the years and is a beloved event by members of the Byzantine Catholic Church. There have been many important highlights of the pilgrimage sponsored by the Sisters of Saint Basil.  On September 4, 1956, the renowned Roman Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was a celebrant at a Byzantine Catholic mass with the Western Pennsylvania Byzantine Catholic Chorus chanting the responses.  It was estimated over 85,000 pilgrims were in attendance during this four day pilgrimage.  Thousands of faithful and many from other faiths attend this highly regarded pilgrimage.  It is the oldest event of its kind within the United States.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Macrina saw her order reach into various areas such as teaching, mending liturgical vestments, caring for orphans, retreat ministries and also the construction of Saint Basil’s Home for Aged Women in 1947.  Mother Macrina and the sisters were devoted through action and prayer to their beloved Greek (Byzantine) Catholic church.  From its humble beginnings, the community expanded through the hard work and devotion of this visionary, Mother Macrina.  After her long dedication to religious life and the Byzantine Catholic church, Mother M. Macrina Melnychuk died on May 8, 1949.  She was interred in the sisters section of the convent cemetery in front of the main cemetery cross at Mount Saint Macrina in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

 

* Today, the city is named Czernowitz and is located in present day Ukraine. 

** Przemysl, Galicia is located in present day Poland.

*** Lviv is located in present day Ukraine.

Memorial Card kept by Anna Osifchin

Cora-Ann Mihalik

Authored by, Steven M. Osifchin

 

Cora owes her Carpatho-Rusyn Roots to her mother Anna Harvilla. Anna was born in Vysny Orlik in 1928. She arrived at the Port of New York in 1929 sailing on the SS President Roosevelt sailing from Bremen, Germany. She was traveling with her mother Mary and sister Mary.  They were joining Anna’s father Peter Harvilla who was residing at 19 Monroe Street, Passaic, New Jersey. Cora's father Walter Mihalik was born in Garfield, New Jersey. His father Adam Anton Mihalik came from the Polish village of Buzyska in the Mazowieckie District of present day Poland.

 

A broadcast journalist since college, Cora-Ann Mihalik is a native of Elmwood Park, New Jersey who joined WWOR-TV in 1998 and was a reporter for My9 News. She left Ch.9 in early 2011 ending a 25 year run on WNYW and WWOR.

 

Prior to My9, Mihalik co-anchored "The 10 O'clock news" on WNYW-TV/Fox 5 from 1987 until 1994. While there, she also was the original anchor for "Fox News at Seven" and joined Fox in 1986 as one of the originators of its syndicated TV show "A Current Affair." Mihalik also inaugurated Fox-TV's first national news updates and anchored Fox's first national coverage of the presidential nominating conventions. 

 

 

 

 

Irena Nevická (1886-1965)

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin

 

Irena Nevická was a published and well known author who resided in Ujak/Udol.  Born Irena Anna Burik in Zbudska Bela (Medzilaborce district) on December 10, 1886, she was the daughter of Paul Burik, a professor who graduated from Budapest and Vienna Universities and Anna Rovaliczky.  Irena was baptized in the Greek (Byzantine) Catholic church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (erected 1730) on February 20, 1887.  She would spend her entire life writing about religious faith and striving to elevate the level of Rusyn awareness.  During the early years, she attended German and Hungarian elementary schools in the town of Sabinov which was approximately 65 miles from Zbudska Bela.  Unfortunately, tragedy befell this author early as her mother, Anna died when Irena was a young girl.  After her mother’s untimely death, her father Paul decided to move and the family lived in Stara Lubovna and Presov.  During this time Irena’s grandmother helped care for her.  Later, Irena applied and was accepted at the Presov Greek Catholic Teachers’ College.  This college (constructed in 1895) was an institution of higher learning operated by the Greek Catholic church.  The college offered a focus on the exclusive training of elementary school teachers.  Irena was very sensitive to the needs of the Rusyn people and these strong feelings would be pronounced in her writings.  Also, she wished to elevate the educational standards of those who did not have opportunities to attend elementary school or college.  Her ideas were also instrumental in the establishment of many amateur theater groups.  She wrote plays and organized formal Catechism schools to instruct children in the Greek Catholic faith. Her plays were interwoven with inspirational themes such as having pride in your heritage and spiritual awareness. 

 

In 1912, while living in Udol/Ujak she wrote a play “Providence” which was performed quite frequently.  She also wrote plays entitled “Fire”, “Christmas Gift,” “Destiny” and “Prince Fedor Koryatovych.”  During these years she also wrote poetry and one anthem of unification of the Ruthenian lands was prevalent in her poem “Koryatovych on Top of the Carpathians.”  A portion of the poem in English states: and people, Prince of people Carpathians, and his love sincere brother, my brother, to work, to work, to liberty, the spring bloom cornfield and paradise is still here, to life!

 

Irena married a Greek Catholic priest, Father Emil Nevicky born August 27, 1878 in Semetkovce.  Father Emil was the son of Anton Nevicky, parish priest in Semetkovce and Gabriella Andrejkovits.  In 1909, Father Emil became resident pastor of St. Dimitry’s Greek Catholic church in Ujak/Udol and would remain for eleven years.  Her husband would travel to America many times to serve in various capacities.  In 1911, Irena published a number of periodicals under the pen names Nedilja, Anna Novak and Anna Gorjak.  Later, she would discard her pen names and only utilize her formal name. On October 4, 1920 Irena’s husband Father Emil was in the United States and visited Saint Michael’s Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church (later Cathedral) in Passaic, New Jersey.  This church was built by many of his former parishioners who had immigrated; over 50 percent of the parish were from Ujak/Udol.  Father Emil offered mass, visited with his former parishioners and spoke at a public meeting.  Father Emil also toured the United States and visited sixty communities.  In November 1920 he returned to Slovakia but on December 26, 1921, he once again emigrated from the Port of Southampton on the SS Carmania and arrived at the Port of New York.  Father Emil joined his uncle, Father Michael Andrejkovic, who was pastor of St. Mary’s Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.  His shipping manifest states Irena remained in Slovakia and resided at 16 Majsesova, Presov.  

 

Irena and Father Emil had a number of children; a few being Dionyz (born 1904 in Cicava, died May 8, 1980), Paul (born 1906 in Cicava, died Dec. 1, 2003), Elizabeth (born 1908, birthplace unknown), Mikulas (born 1910 in Ujak, died Sept. 7, 1973), Martha (born 1914 in Ujak/Udol) and Vladimir (born March 26, 1919 in Ujak, died April 1, 2000)  Irena continued to write essays, poetry and translated numerous novels and literary works; she was a full time mother but never stopped being an author. 

 

While her husband was in America, Irena founded a women’s association (Soyuz) and published a yearly calendar (Zenscyn) which circulated in Eastern Slovakia beginning in 1922.  Also, during this period she was very active with women’s groups, one being named “Enlightenment” in Presov and one with ties to Uzhgorod.  In 1924 she published a very popular novel “Truth” a historical and spiritual work pertaining to the early church based upon the bible. This novel began Irena’s wide ranging success as an author and her name became well known.

 

In July 1923 her husband Father Emil was installed the first resident pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church in Minersville, Pennsylvania.  He would remain at this church until 1939.  He returned to Slovakia for visits and one, to meet with the Bishop of Presov, Bishop (later pronounced Blessed by Pope John Paul II) Paul Goydich on November 30, 1930.  While in America, Father Emil also was pastor of Holy Spirit Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Father Emil worked tireless hours to raise all necessary funds for the construction of a new church for his Williamsport parishioners.  The new church; across the street from the first church; was blessed on May 30, 1925.  The dedication services were held by the Dean of the area Greek Catholic churches, Nicholas Chopey.  Dean Chopey was assisted during this service by Father Nevicky and Father Chanat of St. John’s Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  In 1925, Irena once again published a novel “Divine Providence” and in 1929 another book was published entitled “Present.”   Irinia at this time continued to write plays which were performed on the stage in Presov, Medzilaborce and even in Uzhgorod.  Also, from 1931 to 1932, Irena began publishing the newspaper “Word of Nation.” This was the first newspaper printed in the Rusyn language and was issued bi-monthly.  Irena worked constantly to highlight the national identity of our people in Slovakia. 

 

On December 30, 1939 Irena once again experienced sorrow when her husband, Father Emil died.  Irena was only 53 years old. Many of her stories and periodicals from this period combined a spiritual theme with a solid moral message.  Her style was flowing and very creative which drew a large audience.  Irena also loved to weave tales of good triumphing over evil and personal heroics in the face of difficult challenges. Publications during this time were “Sunday Rusin,” “Our Native Land,” “Freedom,” and “Trembita.”

After the Second World War and with the tyranny of the communist system, Irena’s works were classified as “bourgeois nationalism” and her writings were limited or banned outright.  Irena continued to write but on a limited scale.  She did continue her work with various women’s groups but as these became indoctrinated by communist philosophy, she withdrew and ceased to be a writer, journalist and advocate for her cultural heritage.  At this time nothing of a religious nature; especially by someone who was Greek Catholic and the wife of a Greek Catholic priest (the Greek Catholic Church was outlawed by the communist regime in 1950); could be published.  She also could no longer teach children their Greek Catholic catechism.  Teachers were not permitted to give religious instruction and ones who had been trained in church based university were rarely given employment.  During this period Irena lived a difficult life.  Her works were banned, the Greek Catholic Church was outlawed and views on the church and of a strong national identity made her the target of persecution. 

 

On September 21, 1965, after working a lifetime as an author, playwright, teacher and supporting her husband in his service to the Greek Catholic church for numerous years, Irena Anna Nevicka passed away in Presov at the age of 79.  She was buried in the Presov community cemetery.  Two works written and never published during the communist period are now in print.  One novel is "Matija Kukolka” and it was first published during the Prague Spring of 1968, a second printing was issued in 1994.  The other is a research report on renovation work performed on a Renaissance Manor House at Demjata, near Presov in Eastern Slovakia. The name of the report is “Renaissance Castle in Demjata,” it was published in Bratislava in 1982. 

 

Thankfully, Slovakia now is a free and independent nation.  Irena Nevicka’s works are being published once more for a new generation to discover her brilliant literary talent.  This devoted author played a significant part in Rusyn cultural life.  Since 1991, Irena’s plays have been performed throughout the Presov region and enjoy overwhelming success.  Each year there is a competition in her memory for the best actors in each play category.  The next “Irena Nevicka” artistic competition will be held in Presov during 2012.

 

She has also not been forgotten in her former town of residence.  The villagers of present day Udol/Ujak renamed the house of culture (social gathering hall) in her memory.  A memorial plaque dedicated to Irena Nevická has been placed on the building honoring her life and literary accomplishments.  Many of these literary works were written in the village of Ujak/Udol.  Thankfully, they are read and performed once more. 

 

 

Lizabeth Scott 

Born Emma Matzo in 1922 in the Pine Brook Section of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The daughter of John and Mary Matzo. Her father a Ruthenian immigrant from *Dubrynychi, Ukraine owned and operated a General Store in the Pine Brook section of Scranton.

 

Lizabeth was an actress and singer widely known for her roles in Hollywood Crime Dramas.

* Bercsényifalva (Hungarian), Dubriniče (Czech), Dubrinics (Hungarian)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Selleck (Is He or Isn't He?)

Authored by, Steven M. Osifchin

 

Born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Martha S. nee Jagger, a homemaker and Robert D. Selleck, an executive and real estate investor. An actor and film producer, best known for his starring role as Hawaii-based private investigator Thomas Magnum on the 1980s television show Magnum, P.I. 

 

It has been reported that Tom Selleck has Rusyn Roots. Census Records & Researched Family Trees take his Selleck lineage back to the 1800s in Michigan, void of any Slovak or Rusyn heritage. His Canadian Roots (via his grandmother Nellie Louise Fife go back to Scotland). His mother Martha Jagger's line from Pennsylvania traces back to England. This is contrary to what has been written. Also contrary to some internet reports his father Robert D. Selleck was born in Lapeer County, Michigan, not Slovakia.

 

Not sure if we can still claim Tom as one of our own.

If anyone has solid evidence of his Rusyn ancestry please contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Sergeant Michael Strank (1919-1945)

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin


Sergeant Strank was in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was only 25 years old, leading a dozen Marines, when he and his men raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi in the Pacific. This became one of the most famous images from World War II.
 
Michael Strank was born to Rusyn parents in Jarabina in the year 1919. He was the son of Vasil and Marta Strank nee Grofik. He emigrated from Slovakia to the United States in 1922. He made the journey to America with his mother Marta on the S.S. Berengaria from Southampton, England on the 29th of July 1922. They arrived at the Port of New York on the 4th of August 1922. They were joining Michaels father Vasil ‘Charles’ Stank in Conemaugh, Pennsylvania, a coal mining town near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Vasil ‘Charles’ Strank had emigrated a year prior in 1921.
 
By 1930 the family was residing in the Franklin Borough of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Michael had a brother John and Peter that had been born in Pennsylvania. Their immediate neighbors were another Jarabina family, the Steve and Mary Kindya family.
 
Michael enlisted in the United States Marines with the rank of Private on the 6th of October 1939.

 
He landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. The famous flag-raising took place just four days later. Five other men were with Sergeant Strank on this fateful day. They were Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley, Harlon Block, and Rene Gagnon. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal photographed the Pulitzer Prize-winning picture of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945.
 
Wounded by enemy artillery fire Strank, Block and Sousley would die shortly afterwards. Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon became national heroes within weeks.
 
Sgt. Srank was buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery with the last rites of the Catholic Church. On the 13th of January 1949, his remains were re-interred in Grave 7179, Section 12 at Arlington National Cemetery.
 
He was awarded the Bronze Star; Purple Heart (awarded posthumously); Presidential Unit Citation with one star (for Iwo Jima); American Defense Service Medal with base clasp (for his service in Cuba before the war); Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars (for Pavuvu, Bougainville, Consolidation of the Northern Solomons and Iwo Jima) The World War II Victory Medal.
 
In May of 2007 Sergeant Strank was honored at his birthplace by the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia. At his ancestral home Sgt. Heather Parry stood guard along side the Slovak honor guard.
 
Ambassador Vallee, Ministry of Defense Services Bureau head Miroslav Sim, and Jarabina mayor Mikuláš Kaňa participated in the ceremony. A commemorative plaque was dedicated to Sergeant Strank by Ambassador Vallee.
 
Ambassador Vallee also laid a wreath at the memorial for Jarabina citizens who lost their lives in the fight against fascism in World War II.

 


 

 

 

Robert Urich, (1946-2002)

Authored by, Steven M. Osifchin

 

The son of American born Carpatho-Rusyn and Slovak parents. He was born in the small mill town of Toronto, Ohio close to the West Virginia border. His grandfather Peter Urich was born July 18, 1880 in the village of *Venecia the son of John Jurits a farmer of the Greek Catholic Faith and Julianna Volesko also of the Greek Catholic Faith. Peter died in 1960 in East Liverpool, Ohio. He was a resident of Stratton, Ohio. Robert's grandmother Theresa Urich nee Pillar was born in November 26, 1888 in Lukov the daughter of George Panyko Pilyar a farmer of the Greek Catholic Faith and and Sophia Rohely also of the Greek Catholic Faith. Theresa died in 1943 in East Liverpool, Ohio. She was a resident of Stratton, Ohio.

 

An actor he is most known for his starring roles in the television series Vega$ and Spenser:  For Hire. He died in 2002 in Thousand Oaks, California. The actor announced in 1996 that he was suffering from synovial cell sarcoma, a rare cancer that attacks the body's joints.

 

*In 1944, Venecia was merged into Lukov.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Warhol, (1928-1987) 

Authored by, Steven M. Osifchin

 

Andy Warhol our most famous Carpatho-Rusyn began his life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a blue collar part of town known by the local Carpatho-Rusyns as “Ruska Dolina", which translates as Rusyn Valley. Andy’s early years were not without hardship. He suffered from chorea, a disease that strikes the nervous system and causes involuntary body movements and skin blotchiness. This may have been a complication from an earlier bout with scarlet fever. This condition caused him to be an outcast at school. Often at home and too ill to attend school he would draw, listen to the radio, and cut out magazine photos of movie stars to paste on the walls around his room. His creativity became his escape and this unique talent put him on the road to worldwide fame and success.


Andy Warhol and his brothers were baptized at St. John Chrysostom Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Church in Pittsburgh and the Warhola family worshiped at the church during the artist's formative years. The Byzantine style of the church with its onion shaped domes and numerous repeating icons may have had an influence on his famous Pop Art style.


After graduating from Schenley High School in 1945 he went on to attend the School of Fine Arts at what was then Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University). He was a successful commercial artist before becoming known for his Pop Art, including silk-screened images of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, detailed renderings of Campbell's Soup cans and other avant-garde fare. It was during the 1960s that he began to make paintings of iconic American objects such as dollar bills, mushroom clouds, Campbell's Soup Cans, celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, as well as newspaper headlines or photographs of police dogs attacking civil rights protesters. It was during this period that he founded his studio, "The Factory". He attracted a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. His work became popular and at times controversial.


On June 3, 1968 Warhol’s studio became a very surreal place. Valerie Solanas a regular at the “Factory” came in and without warning shot Warhol and art critic and curator Mario Amaya. Solanas appears in the 1968 Warhol film “I, a Man”. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the “Factory” after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced. Upon her arrest her explanation for the shooting was that Warhol "had too much control over my life." Amaya received only minor injuries Warhol, however, was seriously wounded and barely survived. He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life. Solanas received three years in prison for the shootings.


By the 1970s Warhol’s popularity waned. He became more entrepreneurial devoting much of his time to painting portraits for wealthy and often famous patrons. At the end of this decade in 1979 along with his longtime friend Stuart Pivar, Warhol founded the New York Academy of Art.


The 1980s brought about a re-emergence of critical and financial success for Andy, partially due to his affiliation and friendships with a number of prolific younger artists. He was at this time being criticized by reviewers calling his portraits of personalities and celebrities superficial, commercial and lacking in depth.


On February 22, 1987 after a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital Warhol died in his sleep from a sudden post-operative arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). His family later sued and was awarded a settlement from the hospital for inadequate care.


Warhol's remains were taken back to Pittsburgh for burial. He was placed in a solid bronze casket with gold plated rails and white upholstery. He went out in style dressed in a black cashmere suit, a paisley tie, a platinum wig, and sunglasses. A small prayer book and a red rose were placed in his hands. The funeral liturgy was held at the Holy Ghost Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Church on Pittsburgh's North Side. The eulogy was given by Monsignor Peter Tay. Yoko Ono, John Richardson, and Nicholas Love were speakers. The coffin was covered with white roses and asparagus ferns. After the liturgy, the coffin was driven to St. John the Baptist Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, a south suburb of Pittsburgh.


When Andy Warhol died he left the bulk of his vast 10-15 million dollar estate to create a foundation for the advancement of visual arts. Today it is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist. This son of hard working Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants has left behind an amazing legacy.


Andy is often quoted for his statement, "In the future, everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." In this period of instant news, facebook, and reality shows, how true this has become. Andy’s has well exceeded the 15 minute time limit.


Andy Warhol was born on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as Andrew Warhola. He was the fourth child of Andrew Warhola (Varchola) 1886-1942 and Julia Zavacka (Zavacski), 1892–1972, Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants from the village of Miková, located in today’s northeastern Slovakia; formerly Miko, Zemplén County, Austro-Hungary. Andrew and Julia were married March 24, 1909 at St. Michael the Archangel Greek Catholic Church, Miková by Father Jan Turainak. Their first child Maria was born November 2, 1912 in Miková, she died in Miková December 4, 1912. Andrew journeyed to America November 16, 1912. He sailed on the SS George Washington from Bremen Germany, arriving at the Port of New York on November 25, 1912. He was joining his brother-in-law Andrew Janocsko in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Andrew was born December 7, 1886 in Miková, House 23 to Andrew Varchola a farmer and a widower from Miková and Julia Homa also from Miková. His parents were of the Greek Catholic faith.


Andy Warhol’s mother remained in Miková until 1921 when she left for America to join his father in Pittsburgh. On June 11, 1921 Julia sailed from Liverpool, England on the SS Celtic. She arrived at the Port of New York on June 20, 1921. Julia (Julianna) was born November 20, 1891 in Miková, House 17, one of ten children born to Andrew Zavacski a farmer from Miková and Justina Mrocsko also from Miková. Her parents were of the Greek Catholic faith.


Andy Warhol and his older brother’s John (1925-2010), and Paul were all born in Pittsburgh. Their father was employed in the coal mine industry for a number of years. By 1930 their father was employed as a laborer for a house moving company. At this time the family rented a home on Beeleu Street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. By 1940 the family had moved and was renting a home on Dawson Street. Andrew Sr. was now employed as a laborer for an engineering company. He died in 1942 and is interred at Saint John the Baptist Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Andy was only 13 when his father died in an accident. After his father’s death Andy’s brother John took on the role of father figure. It became John’s duty to make sure that Andy would complete high school and attend college. Andy went on to attend the School of Fine Arts at what was then Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University). His brother John, who died in 2010, became one of the founding three members of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. He acted in the position of vice president of the foundation for 20 years. John also helped establish the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh in 1994.

A few years after her husband's passing in 1942 Julia Warhola moved to New York City to live with her son. Julia became known for her passion for decorative handwriting and her drawings of angels and cats. Her son often used her lettering to accompany his illustrations. In 1957 Andy used her lettering for "25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy" and she illustrated a small book called "Holy Cats". She won an award for her lettering for an album cover featuring the musician Moondog in 1958. In 1966 she was featured as "an aging peroxide movie star with a lot of husbands" in a 66 minute black and white film titled "Mrs. Warhol" produced by her son Andy Warhol. In 1971 she returned to Pittsburgh where she died a year later. She is buried beside her husband and near her son Andy at Saint John the Baptist Byzantine (Greek) Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.


The artistic tradition of this family continues to this day with James Warhola, who is a successful children's book illustrator. He is the son of Andy’s elder brother Paul.

 

 

 

 

Peter J. Wilhousky (1902-1978)

Co-Authored by,

Joy E. Kovalycsik & Steven M. Osifchin

 

 

Peter J. Wilhousky (1902-1978) was born in Passaic, New Jersey on July 13, 1902. He was baptized on July 20th at Saints Peter and Paul's Greek Catholic Church in Passaic, New Jersey by Father Basil Volosin. He was the son of Joseph Wilhousky and Julia Hnatt.

His father Joseph was born January 06, 1871 in Vyšný Orlík, house number 57. He was baptized at the Greek Catholic Church of the Holy Ascension in Vyšný Orlík. He was one of four children born to George Vilchiosky a farmer from Vyšný Orlík and Maria Dzipka also from Vyšný Orlík. His parents were both of the Greek Catholic faith. His mother Julia (Helena) Hnatt was born October 02, 1876 in the village of Ujak. She was baptized at St. Demetrius Greek Catholic Church in Ujak. She was one of five children born to Peter Hnatt a farmer from Ujak and Maria ‘Osifa’ Lesko also from Ujak. Her parents were both of the Greek Catholic faith. Her father had six children from a previous marriage to Anna Miklus. Ujak and Vyšný Orlík are villages within the present day Slovak Republic. Joseph Wilhousky and Julia (Helena) Hnatt married in Passaic, New Jersey on September 14, 1895. They resided in the City of Passaic and relocated to Manville, New Jersey by 1920. Joseph’s profession changed over the years. Early on he was a dry goods merchant; by 1910 he was in the retail meat business. As of 1920 he owned and operated a grocery store in Manville. Later he was employed as a municipal employee with the Borough of Manville as a tax collector. By 1940 he began a career as a real-estate broker.  

Peter Wilhousky began his musical career as a member of Saints Peter and Paul's Greek Catholic (later Russian Orthodox) Cathedral in Passaic, New Jersey. As time progressed, Mr. Wilhousky furthered his musical studies at conservatory and became most popular for two of his arrangements. One arrangement, which is a popular Christmas song "Carol of the Bells", was penned by his hand as was "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."  

Mr. Wilhousky prepared the choruses for legendary conductor, Arturo Toscanini during the 1940's, after which choral conductor Robert Shaw took over this position. 

Being a choral director and composer/arranger, he would later become a music teacher and, also taught for many years at the world renowned Julliard School which today is located within the Lincoln Center complex in New York City.