In March of 1915, a determined group of people who desired to worship God according to the Byzantine Catholic Rite began the process to establish a parish in West Aliquippa, PA. On the weekend of August 22, 2010, St. George the Great-Martyr Byzantine Catholic Church marked this milestone with a parochial celebration of their 95th Anniversary. “The idea of having a celebration for our 95th anniversary” quotes Fr. Kevin E. Marks, Pastor, “was not only to acknowledge that we are only five years away from our centennial, but to remind us of the importance of church and the people of God- all of us-who make up our church community. Certainly, our “big” celebration will be in five years, but we pause to remember the vision of our founders and their sacrifices, our pastors and cantors, and emulate their tenacity of faith and loyalty of church community.”
The celebration began on Saturday, August 21st with the annual Parish Picnic on the church grounds as over 200 parishioners, their families and friends attended. The picnic opened with a Moleben to Jesus. Following the prayer service, The Slavjane Folk Ensemble performed in the St. George Center. Their performance wowed all in attendance as it was extra-special since four of St. George’s parishioners are part of Slavjane: Katy Harbist, Louisa Hersh, Alex Hersh, and Nathanial Hersh. The day continued with lots of delicious picnic foods prepared by the Men’s Club and Ladies’ Guild. In addition, rotisserie chicken was prepared by the Bebech Family. In the later afternoon, games were held along with hay rides, corn-hole, and the ever popular inflatable bounce house. The day continued as all enjoyed the music of The Continental Dukes. Even though some rain fell, the music went on for all. The day ended with sixteen raffle drawings which included wine and Steeler prize baskets.
On Sunday, August 22nd, The Sunday Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Fr. Kevin. In his homily he remarked, “We all are called to use our God-given gifts as our founders did. We continue their dedication and desire to see our church flourish and build up our community.” Before the dismissal, teachers and students who were present received a special blessing to begin the new academic year. Following The Divine Liturgy, a program and brunch was held at the St. George Center. The program began with a brief history of the church presented by parishioner Chuck Sirko. A letter written by the mayor of Aliquippa was then read by parishioner Greg Slatniske, sending his best wishes in behalf of the city to St. George Parish. Next, the CCD children presented a five-year time capsule, in which parishioners would fill out a questionnaire, put their answers in this time capsule, and it will be opened at the parish’s 100th anniversary banquet. A DVD was then shown of several pictures throughout the past 95 years. Following some remarks, Fr. Kevin blessed the food and all enjoyed the wonderful brunch.
Souvenirs over the weekend were commemorative wrist-bands , teeshirts commemorative mugs. Parishioner Isabel Maruhnich stated “the weekend celebration was vibrant and inspiring. It brought back memories and gave me a lot of peace knowing that how we worship and work for the church is an extension of what our founders did.” Parishioner Andrea Vargo commented that the weekend was “just awesome and spectacular.”
Throughout 95 years, St. George Parish as had sixteen pastors, several vocations, and many dedicated faithful. It has the honor of having the first canonically established Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. As they anticipate their 100th anniversary in the year 2015, they took this opportunity to congratulate the present members for a wonderful achievement. The Parish continues to move forward for many more years, praising Almighty God in everything they do, through the intercession of their patron, St. George. Happy 95th anniversary, na mnohaja I blahaja l’ita.