Fr. Michael Guryansky

During the next 15 years the spiritual direction and administration of the parish was conducted under the leadership of Rev. Michael Guryansky, who came to Olyphant from Philadelphia where he had served as secretary to Bishop Constantine Bohachevsky. Prior to that assignment he had served several churches in Pennsylvania and Detroit, Michigan. During his pastorate in Olyphant, St. Cyril’s made rapid strides materially as well as spiritually.

 Under father Guryansky’s guidance and with the cooperation and assistance of an increasingly active board of trustees, a new three-story brick school building adjoining the rectory was constructed. The property for the building was purchased from the Bushko family for $13,500. The design contract was let to architect Lester Davis and Paul Mikuliak, and on October 17, 1926, the construction contract was awarded to Cortese and Contafio for $137,500. The building contained one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s finest auditoriums with a seating capacity of 800, a large ballroom and hall with kitchen and bar on the third floor unlike any in the area, and six classrooms on the second floor. The building was completed and dedicated on September 4, 1927 with a Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving and a banquet in the hall on the third floor of the new building.

 In 1929, an additional 29 acres of land was purchased next to the parish cemetery in Peckville.

 Despite the hard years of the Great Depression (1929-1935), the material and spiritual life of the parish did not wane or ebb. Parishioners seemed to cling more closely to their religious faith and cultural roots during times of adversity. Most forms of social activity thrived – the choir, the Ukrainian evening school, theatrical events, of parish baseball team, and so on. Religious and devotional life of the parish flourished under Fr. Guryansky’s spiritual direction.

 In January 1935, Fr. Guryansky was stricken by a heart attack and died eight days later from complications. His death came as a shock not only to parishioners but also to citizens of surrounding communities. As an editorial eulogy in a local paper noted, Fr. Guryansky “was beloved by his parishioners and admired and respected by all who knew him… He was a zealous worker in the interest of his parishioners primarily, but he also found time to lend his support and cooperation to the general welfare of the community.”

 Until the appointment of a permanent pastor several months after Fr. Guryansky’s death, Rev. Gregory Soskevitch, a missionary priest, served as temporary pastor.