Almost 50 years ago, a new church was consecrated and dedicated to the glory of God in Wilkes-Barre, PA. After much prayer, sacrifice, and toil, the Holy Trinity Church became a reality.
A group of Orthodox Christians first met early in 1966 to discuss the founding of a new parish, It was agreed that a new parish was badly needed in this area. An organization known as the “Orthodox Christian Progressive Association” was formed, and it petitioned the Council of Bishops of the Metropolia to approve and bless the undertaking. Having gained approval, the group elected officers, established a building fund, and formed a land search committee. In due time, the search committee made a recommendation that was adopted to purchase 10-1/2 acres of land on which the church now stands. A charter was issued by the county court on October 27, 1966, to the “Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church.”
The first Divine Liturgy of the newly-formed parish was celebrated at the Carpatho-Russian School Hall in Hudson, PA, on Mother’s Day, May 14, 1967. Later that month, the first parish council was formed and officers were elected. Michael Stchur was elected as the first senior warden. At the same time, a building committee was chosen and began to function. Joseph P Peleak, a registered architect, was commissioned to design the new church and oversee its construction.
On Pentecost Sunday, June 14, 1967, groundbreaking and blessing ceremonies were held on the site of the new church. A banquet was held to commemorate the occasion. The Very Rev George Pawlush assumed duties as the first resident pastor on July 1, 1967, and he immediately organized the church school for the religious education of the young people of the parish.
To ensure the success of their goal, many fundraising projects were undertaken by the parishioners. The women of the parish met frequently and held quilt-making bees, where many beautiful handmade quilts were made and offered as prizes at parish bingoes. They also made pizza, donuts, bread, and hoagies. All profits were donated to the building fund. A major portion of the building fund was derived from the making and sale of pierogies. This continues to be a major source of income for the parish. The men and women also sponsored numerous family dinners, bazaars, raffles, and picnics.
Excavation of the new church began in early February, 1968. Work was completed in January, 1969. In June, the parishioners witnessed the placing of the three onion-shaped cupolas on the church. The total cost of the new edifice was $370,000, including furnishings.
The solemn consecration of Holy Trinity Church took place on September 20, 1969. The Hierarchical procession began from the temporary rectory at 444 E Main St to the Church. It included His Eminence Ireney, Archbishop of New York, Metropolitan of all America and Canada; His Grace Kiprian, Bishop of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, Very Rev George Pawlush, Dean of the Wilkes-Barre Deanery and pastor of Holy Trinity, and the reverend clergy of the area, deacons, servers, and the choir. Following the vesting of the Metropolitan, the consecration of the Holy Table was solemnized, with Holy Relics placed in it. This was followed by the blessing of the Table of Oblation, the Iconostasis, and the entire interior of the Church. A Hierarchical Divine Liturgy followed, celebrated by Metropolitan Iriney, Bishop Kiprian, Fr George, and visiting clergy. The Holy Trinity choir, directed by Mrs John (Agnes) Homick, sang the responses. Peter Welgus served as reader. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the exterior of the church was blessed. A banquet was held at the Treadway Inn (now known as the Woodlands). The main address was delivered by John Turkevich, Ph.D., son of the late Metropolitan Leonty, Primate of the Church from 1950 to 1965; he spoke on “The Future of Orthodoxy.”
The new rectory was completed in 1971, and in 1976, a pavilion was constructed.
In June, 1978, the Holy Trinity parish honored Fr George on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Friends, community leaders, and parishioners paid tribute to Fr George.
Early in 1979, in anticipation of the tenth anniversary of the dedication, a decision was reached to have icons written for the sanctuary and on the ceiling of the nave. Mr Constantine Youssis, who had done earlier iconography for the iconostasis, was commisioned to write the icons.
In February of 1988, Fr George Pawlush announced his decision to retire. Plans were made to hold a testimonial dinner honoring Fr George and Matushka Anne for their dedicated and unselfish service to the parish. Friends and well-wishers offered congratulations and best wishes. Parishioners expressed their love and gratitude for Fr George’s many years of sacrificial spiritual guidance. Years of harmony and mutual respect were noted at this time. Many Years!
On November 1, 1988, Fr John Mason, after appointment by Bishop Herman, arrived from Yonkers, NY and celebrated his first Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity on November 6.