Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church

September 14th, 2009, Promulgated by Choir

St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Irondequoit is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2009. The history of the parish can be traced back to the arrival of the first Ukrainian immigrants to the Rochester area in 1903. As more immigrants arrived, there developed a need to provide for the religious and cultural life of the people. In the early years, priests would travel St. Josaphat Church from Auburn, Buffalo, Elmira Heights and Troy, New York to administer to the spiritual needs of the faithful.

In 1908, the Benevolent Fraternity of St. Josaphat, a branch of the Ukrainian National Association, was organized. This benevolent society and its membership were the pioneers of organized Ukrainian life in the Rochester area.

On November 15, 1908 the first official meeting of the Ukrainian Catholic Community took place a t St. Stanislaus Church with the serious intent of organizing a parish. At a meeting held on June 28, 1909, ninety three parishioners agreed to contribute 3 days salary to construct a church. The sum of $417.50 was collected. Land was purchased on Remington Street and the first St. Josaphat Church was complete in 1910.

The church community soon outgrew the Remington Street location and in 1914 the church moved to Hudson Avenue purchasing a church from the Evangelical society. St. Josaphat Church remained on Hudson Avenue for the next 50 years.

In 1923, Father Basil Turula was assigned to St. Josaphat Church. Father Turula remained as pastor until his retirement in January of 1949. Under his leadership the parish paid off all debts, a church hall was constructed and an evening school where religion, Ukrainian reading and writing, Ukrainian church and national songs and Ukrainian history were taught was organized.

In September of 1941, two Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate arrived in Rochester to conduct an evening school. An all-day school was formally opened in September 1944 with an enrollment of thirty-one students. By 1949, the enrollment grew to one hundred ninety students in grades kindergarten to eight. The school remained open until 2001.

On January 20, 1950, Father Nicholas Wolensky was assigned as pastor of St. Josaphat Church. He served as pastor until his death on November 23, 1962. Under Father Wolensky?s leadership a complete renovation of the church and school took place including the installation of a new Iconostasis. In addition a chapel was erected in the convent for the sisters.

In 1957, nine acres of land and two homes were purchased on Ridge Road and Stanton Lane along with the founding of St. Nicholas Chapel on the same site. This would be the future home of St. Josaphat parish.

On December 28, 1962, Father Stephen Chomko was appointed pastor of St. Josaphat. Under his guidance a new school, rectory and convent were built on the Ridge Road property. The church on Hudson Avenue was sold and St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church moved to Irondequoit. In 1979, a new church was completed at the Ridge Road site.

St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church served as a focal point of both religious and cultural life for the Ukrainian community in and around Rochester, New York for the past 100 years. Divine Liturgies are offered in both Ukrainian and English. The school is used by local Ukrainian organizations and groups for a variety of events and meetings. The Heritage Center features various exhibits of art, information on the history of the parish and information about the first Ukrainian pioneers of Rochester. For over 25 years, the four-day St. Josaphat?s Festival provided greater Rochester with traditional Ukrainian foods, Ukrainian arts and crafts, and Ukrainian entertainment.

The parish will officially celebrate its Centennial November 13, 14 and 15, 2009. A St. Josaphat School Alumni Reunion will be held on November 13, 2009, a Jubilee Banquet on November 14, 2009 and a pontifical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, November 15, 2009.



10 Responses to “St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Archangel Catholic School is located in the St. Josaphat's school building.

    Bishop Clark won't allow Archangel to be called a "Catholic" school because it is probably the most orthodox Catholic school located in the Diocese of Rochester.

    The children that attend Archangel School are parishioners of the Diocese of Rochester and have been entrusted to the care of the bishop. I pray that the new Bishop of Rochester will offer an existing school building to Archangel School.

    I hope that you can find it in your heart to send the school a donation. If your company has any supplies that you think the school could use, please call their office 426-5990.

  2. Dr. K says:

    Archangel used to be in the old Faith Formation center at St. Jude while Fr. Steger was Pastor. That was, of course, before Fr. Schramel was put in charge by the Bishop, who promptly had Archangel leave the building. The Arch. kids would attend Mass every morning at St. Jude during the school year. They had a great home there, under the protection of an orthodox priest.

    Do the children have a priest come to offer Mass at their new location? Do they attend an Irondequoit church for Mass?

    ~Dr. K

  3. Gen says:

    I believe there's Daily Mass for the students. Not sure where, though. I remember Mr. Macaluso made a joke about the children not needing to learn Ukrainian for Mass. Just Latin. 😉

  4. Mike says:

    I visited Archangel School when it held open houses in early 2008. I was told that the entire school attended Mass at St. Josaphat's 2 or 3 times a week and recited the rosary together on the other days.

  5. Dr. K says:

    Is a Latin rite Mass offered there? The have morning liturgies, but when I went, they were in Ukrainian.

    ~Dr. K

  6. Mike says:

    Dr. K.,

    I suspect all their Masses are in Ukrainian.

  7. I know that at least one of the Sunday Masses is in English. NOt sure which one.

  8. Dr. K says:

    Yes, their Saturday evening Mass is in English.

    I am surprised though if the children do in fact attend the daily Mass in Ukrainian. Since the school teaches the Latin rite, attending the Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian may be quite different than what these children see on Sundays, and may make it a little tough to teach the Latin rite Mass since the rubrics/liturgy is of the Eastern Rite at St. Josephat's.

    ~Dr. K

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for that bit of history. I've always been part of the Roman Catholic Church, but my grandfather belonged to St. Josephats and many times as a kid I remember my dad and I taking him to mass there, especially when the new church was being built and masses were in the school auditorium.

    Interesting bit of canon law(maybe someone knows if it actually is true), when I was younger, I was told by a Roman Catholic priest that I couldn't become a Roman priest because the Ukrainian rite has dominion over me by my heritage, and it doesn't matter that I was baptized and always have belonged to the Roman church.

    A website for one of the Ukrainian eparchies seems to agree with this. It says its authority extends to all its members, plus all Catholics of Ukrainian descent.

  10. Dr. K says:

    Were you baptized in the Ukranian rite? If so, I think you would have to officially change rites to become a Latin rite priest. I don't know that one would never be able to, but this seems like it would be required before one would be able to become a Latin rite priest.

    Good question.

    ~Dr. K

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