The 1890's

Within a few years, the growing Ukrainian congregation outgrew the small wooden chapel and it became necessary to consider building a much larger structure. Plans were begun during the brief stay of Rev. Gabriel Wyslotsky in 1881. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Theofan Obushkewich (July 1891-November 1897) that the new wooden edifice was built. Actually, the plan to build a completely new edifice could not be realized, and the old chapel was expanded into a larger, more accommodating structure by the addition of a nave (the main part of the church which houses the faithful), and a vestibule at the entrance to the church. The modified, expanded structure was 75 feet long, and 28.5 feet wide. It had ten windows (each 12 feet high) with colored glass in the upper part. The two cupolas or domes had 12 small windows, the sanctuary two, and there was one circular window in the choir loft which had a blue and gold cross painted on it. In the front belfry were three bells with mechanical wheels for ringing the bells. The sanctuary contained a Greek altar, and a tabernacle which was imported from Dimet in Lviv. Off of the sanctuary were three sacristies. On the left side of the sanctuary was the “Proskomidijnik” table on which the offertory gifts were prepared before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy.

 The iconostas was partly gilded and partly lacquered in white and rose, and decorated here and there with mirrored glass. The iconostas and the altar were made by the Ukrainian sculptor Ivan Zakhariyash. The liturgical books, the Gothic style tabernacle, vestments, church banners, candelabra and other articles were obtained from the Michael Spozharsky Co. in Lviv. The censer, chalice and candelabra were purchased out from New York. The total cost of enlarging the chapel into a church came to $8,700.

 While the expanding edifice was being built, a charter of incorporation for St. Cyril’s congregation was applied for and issued on April 4, 1892 by the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas. Signatories to this Charter were: Rev. Theofan Obushkevich, Harry Blaniar, George Chichura, George Chylak, Joseph Fecina, Kosty Koban, Martin Kowalchick, John Swallow and Aleck Tomaskevits. The first trustees were: Rev. Theofan Obushkevich, George Chylak, John Swallow, Constantine Koban and Harry Blaniar.

 At the same time two acres of land were purchased for a cemetery for $1,400. The property was enclosed by a plank fence and planted trees. In 1893 a wooden rectory was built next to the expanded church. The residence had nine rooms, a kitchen and bath. Together with furniture the total cost came to $3,800. This rectory served as the residence for St. Cyril’s pastors for the next 49 years.

 From 1891 to the turn of the century, for the first time the parish enjoyed a stability that can only be realized under more permanent, prolonged pastoral leadership. During the ten years from 1891 to 1902, Rev. Theofan Obushkevich (6 years) and Rev. John Ardan (4.5 years) served as pastors in residence. During this period the enlarged wooden church was completed in 1893. Cultural and educational life among the Ukrainian community began to flourish with choral, drama and reading groups becoming very active. In 1894 a Ukrainian school was established in the parish. In May 1895, the first theatrical production, a two-act comedy “Znimcheney Yurko,” was presented in the native tongue by the drama group and later, in September, the Choir and Dramatic Club traveled to Pittsburgh for the dedication of a new church there, gave a concert and performed the same two-act comedy.

 This early period, however, was not without turmoil and conflict both among groups of parish members and from circumstances outside the parish. Functional disputes arose among laity and clergy and conflicts with Latin Rite Bishops abounded in these early immigrant years.