Holy Ghost Orthodox Church was founded when hundreds of faithful, thoroughly committed to the Lord and sincerely devoted to the time-honored traditions of Eastern Christianity, liberated themselves from the yoke of Latinization and discovered the eternal truth of Holy Orthodoxy. Having lost their house of worship by the ruling of a civil court of law, the members of this new, self-converted Family in Christ established Holy Ghost Church on August 7, 1937. Our first Divine Liturgy was celebrated to God's glory in the grassy field of Mont Clare, PA by our first pastor, Fr. Alexander Kossey. Our founders were living proof that the Church is not the building, but the people; not the brick and mortar, but the Faith and Tradition; not the stained glass and gold leaf, but the sacraments and service to God.
As the winter of 1937 approached, our homeless parish was "adopted" by the good people of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Phoenixville, PA. Filled with compassion and understanding of our congregation's plight, these Christian neighbors opened their hearts and their St. Margaret's Chapel for the celebration of Sunday services, baptisms, weddings and funerals. Nonetheless, the faithful of Holy Ghost wanted a church of their own.
It was with the direction of Fr. Michael Hoynak and the phenomenal generosity of countless individuals that the present properties of the 22-acre Phoenix Park were purchased from the Reeves Family, owners of Phoenix Steel. On that spacious expanse was a long-time uninhabited mansion that was to serve as the church, as well as a banquet and dance hall, Sunday School classrooms and a residence for our pastor. It took much hard work to make the transformation-work both on the building itself and in using it for dinners, picnics, dances and other fund-raising efforts.
Over the years, the down payment for a new church was raised through the incredible efforts of the dedicated members of our parish. Through the extraordinary vision of Fr. Stephen Shutack, pastor from 1951 until 1975 and the leadership of the parish council under the presidency of Joseph F. Rudick, the construction of the new edifice was brought to realization. Ground was broken, and His Excellency, Auxiliary Bishop Methodius blessed the church cornerstone. The long-awaited goal of the founding fathers came to fruition on November 28, 1965. On that Sunday, His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes, first Bishop of the American Carpatho Russian Orthodox Diocese, consecrated the new magnificent house of worship, patterned after Christ the Savior Cathedral in Johnstown.
During the pastorates of Fr. Andrew Hutnyan (1975-1976) and Fr. John Baranik (1976-1985), movement and efforts toward the building of a new rectory were undertaken. The spacious and beautiful parish home was dedicated on November 12, 1978 by His Excellency, Bishop John.
Our congregation transformed the social center into a facility for catering weddings, anniversaries and other receptions, under the leadership of Leonard Mauger. The parish mortgage was burned in 1987, in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the parish. The Golden Jubilee celebration took place on November 4th of that year, with His Grace, Bishop Nicholas presiding at the festivities. During the pastorate of Fr. Michael Dahulich (1985-2001), much growth took place in the parish on the spiritual and material levels. Membership increased and new initiatives were taken to better minister to our parish youth. Fr. Michael worked diligently to revamp the Church Sunday School program and instituted a week- long Vacation Church School Program attended by dozens of children. New icons and murals were written and a new chandelier was installed in the church interior; the house of worship was air-conditioned; new stained-glass doors were added; the church basement was transformed into Sunday School classrooms; and an outdoor shrine was constructed on the site of mansion that had served as the original church.
During the pastorate of Fr. John Fedornock (2001-2018), the newly constructed shrine was blessed and a new cupola (dome) was installed on the Church in 2002. In 2004, our parish undertook a major renovation project, refurbishing the old mansion's caretaker's cottage located near the site of the outdoor shrine. This project was completed in 2005. The interior of the Church was completely repainted and the iconography was restored and enhanced by iconographer George Nedelkov. New carpeting and tile flooring were installed in the sanctuary, solea and around the Tetrapod. Many other renovation and remodeling projects were able to be completed thanks to the parish’s many talented cooks and bakers who worked tirelessly under the capable leadership of Fr. John and Pani Marge to raise the necessary funds through additional food sales. During this time, the parish’s Annual Pierogi Fest was inaugurated through the vision and leadership of our Parish President Mark Samilenko which drew over 1000 people prior to the onset of the Covid Pandemic.
On the weekend of September 29-30, 2012, our parish celebrated a "double" anniversary: the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of the parish and the 50th Anniversary of Ordination and Marriage of Very Rev. Protopresbyter John and Pani Marge Fedornock. On Sunday, October 14, our parish honored Protopresbyter John and Pani Marge Fedornock on their retirement from active parish ministry after 56 years of service in the Vineyard of the Lord, the last 17 of which at Holy Ghost Church. Following Divine Liturgy a beautiful reception followed at Columbia Station Restaurant.
On November 15, 2018 Fr. Peter Paproski was assigned as the eighth pastor of Holy Ghost Church. During the past four years, our parish has continued to grow and flourish despite the challenges of the Covid Pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, a full cycle of liturgical services continued to be celebrated and live streamed along with daily prayers and a story time for our children. Coming out of the pandemic, in-person Church School and Adult Educational classes have resumed. Inquirer and Catechumen classes have also been instituted as numerous young adults of other faith traditions have expressed interest in learning more about and embracing the Orthodox Christian Faith.
Our parish has also increased its outreach to the local community by installing a food pantry kiosk in front of the social center, which allows around the clock access to food staples and personal care items for those in need. We have also opened our parking lots to the public, to provide much needed parking for those frequenting the Downtown Phoenixville Restaurant and Business district. As a result of the generous donations from parking patrons, our parish has been able to give back to the local community and provide meaningful financial support to such Phoenixville Charities as Orion Communities, Ann’s Heart Cold Weather Shelter, The Policeman’s Association and the Local Fire Department. In partnership with the Phoenixville Rotary Club, last year we provided over 18,000 prepackaged meals for the needy in third world countries through the Rise Against Hunger Initiative.
Many items on the parish’s Capital Repair and Improvements Campaign were accomplished including repaving our access driveway (Holy Ghost Way) and parking areas, replacing the roofs on the Church and Rectory, installing new retaining walls near the Church, and replacing the exterior basement stairwell at the Social Center. During the Pandemic, the men of the parish used their work shut-down time productively to clear the parish grounds and ball field of undergrowth and fallen trees. A one mile perimeter hiking trail was also created.
Over the years, our parish has also been active on the Diocesan level with parishioners serving on the Diocesan Board of Trustees and as Archons (Supporters) of our Mother Church, The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. I
In 1982, our parish hosted the XIII Diocesan Council-Sobor. The parish has also hosted eight National ACRY events: the 1962 , 1991 2014 and 2018 Conventions, the 1997, 2003, 2009 and 2012 Bowling Tournaments. Five sons of the parish have been ordained to the service of the Holy Church: Fr. Deacon Peter Skoog (1989), Fr. Peter Zarynow (1992), Fr. Michael Chendorain (2002) and Fr. Frederick Watson (2008), Fr. Deacon Richard Phifer (2011).
We are thankful to Almighty God for the many blessings we have received over the years, especially for our little slice of paradise, our beautiful Church which sits on over 20 acres of natural beauty. A church community, however is comprised of more than brick and mortar, it is a living body, whose foundation is none other than Jesus Christ.
We honor today those who have come before us for providing us with a strong foundation. We would not be who we are today without their deep faith, vision and zeal for the Lord. The torch has been passed to us to continue to build up the Body of Christ, in the context of life in the 21st century. May we never forget the past, but ever be moving forward and heavenward.
May God continue to bless us and inspire us to grow in holiness as we continue to proclaim the unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ in an ever changing world. May we, as we sing in the troparion of our Patronal Feast “draw the whole world into (the safety) net” of the Church, the Ark of Salvation. Our doors and hearts are wide open!
We welcome you to our parish web site and hope you enjoy your on-line visit. We cordially invite you to personally visit our parish when you are in the Phoenixville, Pennsylvania area.
Sunday Divine Liturgy: 9:30 am; Summer Sunday Divine Liturgy 9:00 am (June-August)
Feast Day Liturgy: 8:30 am
Weekday Services: As indicated on monthly calendar
Prayer Services For Various Intentions: Anytime upon request
Pastoral Counseling/Spiritual direction: (individual/family) Anytime upon request
Ministry to the Sick, Elderly and Shut-ins
Weekly Children's Church School - September to May: Sundays following Divine Liturgy
Fellowship - Social Activities:
Weekly Fellowship Hour Following Sunday Divine Liturgy
Seasonal Social Activities:
Family Picnics, Dinners, Christmas Bazaar, Annual Christmas Play, Saint Nicholas yearly visit, Easter Bazaar, Annual Pierogi Festival, Egg Hunt, Russian New Year Party, Icecream Social, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Independance Day, Hay Ride, First Confession Ceremony, ACRY Car Wash, Fashangi Pre-Lenten Dinner, Meet and Greet New Parishioners, Altar Boys Retreat, Camp Nazareth summer camp, etc...