On Sunday, June 25, 2017, St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, Ohio – a parish of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma – solemnly celebrated its 50th anniversary in the presence of many clergy, religious, and lay people.
The celebrations began with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy presided over by Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo, Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma. The solemn Liturgy was concelebrated by many clergy, including Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, pastor of St. Anne Church and Holy Trinity Church in Youngstown, OH; Very Rev. Chorbishop Michael Kail, Pastor of Saint Maron Maronite Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH; Very Rev. Chorbishop Anthony Spinosa, Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, OH; Very Rev. Walter Wysochansky, a retired long-time Pastor of St. Anne Church in Austintown, OH; Right Rev. Archimandrite George Appleyard, Protosyncellus of St. Josaphat’s Eparchy; Very Rev. Canon Steven Paliwoda, Eparchy’s Chancellor, Financial Officer and Pastor of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lorain, OH; Very Rev. Monsignor Peter Polando, Rector of St. Columba Roman Catholic Cathedral in Youngstown, OH; and numerous clergy of the Ukrainian Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches. Rev. Deacon Thomas Bury of St. Anne Church and Rev. Deacon Donald Billy of Holy Trinity Church in Youngstown assisted at the Liturgy. The Liturgy took place in the filled church that was attended by St. Anne’s parishioners and guests.
In his homily, Bishop Bohdan, having summarized briefly St. Anne Church’s history and having praised the founders as well as the past and current members of the parish, accentuated on the necessity for the church to retain the trust in the Lord. He encouraged the church’s parishioners not to be afraid to look into the future similarly to Jesus Christ’s disciples, who, after their Lord ascended into Heaven, likewise were fearful, yet at the same remained hopeful in the Lord’s promise, which came to fulfilment, when the Lord sent upon them His Holy Spirit ten days later.
Following the Eucharistic celebration, Bishop Bohdan briefly addressed the Ukrainian-speaking people of the parish in Ukrainian. Afterwards, Father Lubomyr thanked Bishop Bohdan and the concelebrating clergy for having visited his parish community, which was followed by a traditional Ukrainian “Many and Happy Years,” sung to the hierarchy, the clergy and the faithful of the Catholic Church, especially to St. Anne Church’s parishioners and the rest of the people gathered in the church. At the conclusion, a group photo was taken inside the church.
The celebrations continued in the adjacent parish hall with a festive banquet, attended by ca. 200 people, that was accompanied by a traditional Ukrainian music performed by The Zaps as well as by the traditional Ukrainian dancing presented by the young Youngstown Area Ukrainian Dancers. During the banquet, which was commenced with a prayer and blessing by Bishop Bohdan Danylo, a tribute was made to the founders, the clergy and the faithful of St. Anne Church through the parish’s history recounted by one of the church’s parishioners, Mr. Fred Yasnowski. Likewise, Father Walter Wysochanky, past pastor of St. Anne Church shared some of his memories of St. Anne Church parish life with the audience that were candid, amusing, and inspiring. Afterwards, Father Lubomyr Zhybak addressed the audience with his word, thanking Bishop Bohdan for his presence as well as expressing his gratitude to the entire parish community, particularly to the parish’s 50th anniversary committee, namely Deacon Thomas Bury and his wife Charlene as well as Fred and Lillian Yasnowski, for their work, dedication, and sacrifices in preparation for the jubilee celebrations. The pastor likewise thanked all the present guests for coming to the celebration. Reflecting on the Golden Jubilee of the parish, Fr. Lubomyr stated: “Today, when our Church Community turns 50, which in the eyes of the Eternity is a pretty young age, we would like to renew our desire to follow our Lord faithfully. Today, when we are, above all, celebrating and adoring the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Who allowed us to see this day and for Whom and thanks to Whom this church exists, we would like to reaffirm our faith in Him. Today, when we are recalling prayerfully all of those people, who, through their labor of love, contributed to the founding and existence of our church and who have passed into eternity, we are inspired and edified by their faith and example. Today we are celebrating ourselves as the community of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, Who leads us on the way to our Heavenly Home. Hence, we march on, with courage, under the patronage of our heavenly intercessor and Grandmother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Anne, until we reach this Place, where we all want to dwell with our Lord forever and ever!” Following Fr. Lubomyr’s remarks, Bishop Bohdan addressed gathered people with his word, having thanked and congratulated the pastor of the church, Father Lubomyr Zhybak and the parish community on the 50th anniversary of the church and wished everyone the choicest blessings of the Lord as they continue their journey of faith on the Lord’s life-giving path.
The festivities concluded with a benediction by one of the former Assistant Pastors of St. Anne Church, Fr. Michael Polosky, who currently is the Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, PA and of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Aliquippa, PA.
St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church came into existence as a mission parish and extension of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH, which was founded in 1911. Between 1950 and 1960, Holy Trinity Church continued to flourish and grow. As these changes occurred, Msgr. Leo Adamiak, Pastor of the church, searched for a way to accommodate the needs created by the tremendous growth. In 1960, after many months of searching and consultation, the property, located at the intersection of Kirk and Raccoon Roads in Austintown, Ohio, was purchased that consisted of thirty-three acres, three of which contained a natural fed lake and a residential home.
On June 20, 1965, Ground Blessing Ceremonies took place before a rugged cross and altar, where now the St. Anne’s complex stands. On August 14, 1966, approximately one year after the Ground Blessing Ceremonies, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated at St. Anne Chapel. Shortly thereafter, on August 18, 1966, the residential home located on the property was solemnly blessed and dedicated, having been fully converted to serve as a convent.
On September 7, 1966, St. Anne’s Ukrainian Catholic Elementary School opened. The main objective was to provide a Christian environment for the children to study, love and live our Ukrainian Catholic Faith, which included spirituality, language and tradition.
Less than one year after the opening of the school, St. Anne complex was solemnly blessed and dedicated under the Patronage of St. Anne by the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Ambrose Senyshyn of Philadelphia on June 25, 1967.
Over the years, St. Anne School enjoyed further growth and prosperity, reaching the staff status, which included two Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate as well as full-time and part-time lay teachers. St. Anne School had an excellent reputation as one of the Mahoning Valley’s finest elementary schools.
Later geographic boundaries were also drawn up, with an approval from the bishop, to distribute membership between the parishes. Ultimately, approximately fifty percent of the Holy Trinity Church parishioners became members of St. Anne Church.
On April 29, 1973, Holy Trinity and St. Anne Catholic Churches jointly celebrated the occasion of the Burning of the Mortgage of St. Anne complex. This was quite an accomplishment considering that both parishes paid off the entire mortgage of $350,000.00 in less than half the original term of fifteen years.
Msgr. Adamiak, who was assisted by Fr. Edward Levandusky, maintained full financial and administrative responsibility over St. Anne Church until March 15, 1975. At that time, St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church was officially elevated from a mission to full parish status by Archbishop Senyshyn, who simultaneously assigned Rev. Myron Kosmoski as the first pastor of the church. Soon thereafter, Archbishop Senyshyn assigned Rev. Walter J. Wysochansky as the second pastor of St Anne Church on September 9, 1975. Father Wysochansky continued to serve faithfully as pastor and spiritual father of St. Anne parish family till June 29, 1999, when Msgr. George Appleyard was appointed the new pastor of the church.
From its humble beginnings, St. Anne parish family blossomed and developed its own separate, unique and beautiful spiritual identity. The foundation for this new and wonderful identity began to take shape with the immediate formation of several men’s and women’s groups in October 1975. At that time, the parish formed the St. Anne Apostolic Men’s Society together with a women’s group called the Mother of God Society. These two societies continued to provide St. Anne’s parish family with substantial spiritual and material contributions. In August 1989, these two societies ultimately merged, thereafter forming the parish society called the Apostleship of Prayer group. This group met exclusively to address the spiritual and social needs of St. Anne parish family. Additionally, this group contributed in many ways to St. Anne parish family life, having initiated the annual St. Anne Feast Day Celebration in September 1990, wheelchair transportation, Adopt-A-Shut-In, an active Over Fifty Club, coordinating religious events and involvement in other corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
One of the earliest concerns of St. Anne parish family was the need to organize an Altar Boy Society in January 1976. In 1992, this energetic society had an active group of forty-four acolytes.
The parish continued to appreciate and meet the spiritual needs of its youth, especially the young parishioners, who attended public schools. In response, the parish started its CCD program in October 1976. The parish also initiated a Youth Ministry Program in November, 1978, to address the spiritual needs of its high school and college students. The Youth Ministry Program led to the creation of St. Anne Youth Group (SAY), which came into existence in January, 1984.
St. Anne parish family also recognized the need for leadership and excellence in good liturgical worship. To that end, the parish hired Marian Izak in September 1978 to serve as a full-time cantor, choir director and part-time music teacher, who fulfilled these duties for many years. Under the direction of Miss Izak, the St. Anne Church Choir recorded its first Christmas album, “Christ Is Born,” in September 1978. During the same year, Miss Izak formed and directed St. Anne School Children’s Choir.
St. Anne parish family also recognized the significance of promoting and maintaining Ukrainian culture and tradition. This resulted in the ongoing parish customs: the teaching of the art of decorating Ukrainian Easter eggs (“pysanky”) in 1975; the initiation of the traditional St. Anne Easter Banquet in 1976; the formation of a Ukrainian dancing class; the teaching of the Ukrainian language in the school curriculum in 1978.
The spiritual growth of the parish began to further manifest itself in the formation of Bible-Sharing Classes in September 1978, Know Your Faith Sessions in September 1981, Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Devotion in February 1987 and a Lector Program in May 1991. Spiritually, the parish was further enriched by the formation of six prayer groups, Marian Triduum and the observance of Lenten and Advent Missions.
St. Anne parish family had humble, but beautiful beginnings as a mission parish of its mother parish, Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown. Once established, the parish was born, matured and blossomed into one of the most active parish families within the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma.
The parish substantially affected the eparchy in many ways. Various new prayer services initiated at St. Anne’s were used in parishes throughout the eparchy. A practical compilation of a Divine Liturgy book was arranged at St. Anne Church and approved by the then Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Myroslav Cardinal Lubachivsky in July 1980. Many parishes throughout the Philadelphia Metropolia purchased and used this Divine Liturgy book.
St. Anne Church also served as an internship parish for seminarian (now Father) Mark Morozowich and Deacon (now Father) Michael J. Polosky, both of whom were ordained priests on April 28, 1991. Upon ordination, Fr. Michael J. Polosky was assigned as Parochial Vicar to St. Anne Church, where he served in this quality for a few years. Currently Fr. Polosky is Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, PA and Very Rev. Mark Morozowich, S.E.O.D. is the Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies as well as Associate Professor of Liturgical Studies/Sacramental Theology at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington DC.
St. Anne Church, along with the eparchy, also gave birth to diaconate vocations of Rev. Deacon Joseph F. Poklemba, Rev. Deacon Donald M. Billy, who is currently ministering at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, OH as well as Rev. Deacon Thomas Bury, who is ministering at St. Anne’s.
As was mentioned earlier, after Fr. Walter Wysochansky ended his tenure as pastor of St. Anne Church on June 29, 1999, Msgr. George Appleyard took over the parish. Although, due to financial reasons, St. Anne’s School had to be closed in 2005, the parish continued to move forward as a living community of believers.
After Msgr. Appleyard ended his pastorship at St. Anne Church, the parish was led by Fr. Joseph Tamburo, Fr. Peter Tomas, late Fr. Richard Whetstone (died in 2015), Fr. Ignatius Kury (2012-2014) and Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak – a married priest from Ukraine – who, since January 2015, has been the pastor of St. Anne Church in addition to being the pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Youngstown, OH.
Throughout St. Anne Church’s existence, in addition to the above mentioned priests, the parish had many other Assistant Pastors among whom it behooves to mention Very Rev. Mitred Archpriest Michael Rewtiuk, retired long-time Rector of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Parma, OH; Very Rev. Canon Steven Paliwoda, Eparchy’s Chancellor, Financial Officer and Pastor of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lorain, OH; Fr. Andrew Marko, former pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Youngstown, and Very Rev. Mitred Archpriest Michael Drozdovsky, Pastor of the Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church in Parma, OH.
St. Anne Church continues to blossom having its own unique and beautiful identity, radiating brightly and bearing witness to Jesus Christ in the community at large. This year, on June 25, 2017, the parish is celebrating its 50th anniversary – a milestone that marks the church’s half a century of faith, heritage, and stewardship.