HISTORY OF THE PARISH
There was a small group of Ukrainians who came here from the Ukraine previous to WorId War I, and they were seeking a church in which they could and would be able to worship in the PALEO-SLAVONIC LANGUAGE which was the language that was used in their former homeland. They attended either the Carpatho-Russian Church on Arctic Street, or the Russian Church on Hallett Street until they decided to form their own parish in 1921. They held many meetings in various homes of the Ukrainians, and finally decided to form a nucleus for an Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, similar to the one of their native land. They obtained the use of Saint Mary's Church on Pembroke Street, Bridgeport, for Sunday services, and the Rev. Father Onufrey Kowalski was appointed as their first Priest and Pastor.
The membership increased, and shortly thereafter, they continued to worship in Saint Mary's Church, until they found a church which was available for them to purchase. This church building was at 34 Beach Street. They purchased the church edifice and slowly but surely did everything in their power to payoff the mortgage that was due on this property. There were some shaky moments as funds were not readily available, but with the help of Almighty God, they paid off the structure during the depression.
,After the mortgage was satisfied, the next project was to beautify the church interior by painting and purchasing Icons for the walls of the church. This they did. Also the exterior of the church had to be attended to the exterior part of the church was veneered. Also a rectory was purchased for the Priest and his family. The rectory was remodeled.
In March 1954, a building fund was officially started for a new church and a new rectory which was to be realized some twenty years later.
In June 1962, four acres of land was purchased with available savings. Thus momentum was gathering for an extensive building program. The new rectory located across from the church building was built in 1969. The new church began to become a reality when all of the members rallied and assisted in various projects so that this could be realized. The church was completed in 1973. Thus you see what a small group of dedicated and faithful people could accomplish for the years from 1921 through 1973. The church was dedicated and blessed in October 1974, by His Eminence, MOST REVEREND ARCHBISHOP ANDREI.
Then in January 1976 another phase was begun for the ICONOSTASIS and STAINED GLASS ICON WINDOWS to be purchased for our Church. The church attic was insulated, the church interior was painted, and the two projects as mentioned went into full swing. The ICONOSTATIS was completed in April 1978, and the STAINIED GLASS ICON WINDOWS were completed in October. This is the second phase of the beautification of the new church. The next phase will begin later on.
The writer of this article would be remiss if he did not give credit to the dedicated pioneers of the 0LD church and also the new church if he did not mention some of the dedicated and devoted elder members who sacrificed both time and monies for the beautiful complex that the church has today.
The Parish was officially incorporated in the year' 1929 when the following individuals vouched for its perpetuity.
'Edward Gynowicz, Leon Bych, Marti Szymanski, Basil Kuziw, Jack Walytok, Joseph Wolk, Joseph 'Pidluski, John Hlywa, Michael Halkewicz Dmytro Cherowsky, Peter Slivinsky, and Theodor Krasicki - they all were incorporators of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of Saint Mary's Protection of Bridgeport. This continued on until the year 1939, when amendments to the articles of incorporation were approved by more than three-fourths of the incorporators" their associates and successors voted to change the name of the church to be: THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF SAINT MARY'S PROTECTION, INC. Also the spiritual jurisdiction waS changed to be under the UKIRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF AMERIA whose BISHOP was the, RT. REV. BISHOP BOHDAN, and to his lawful successors and to conform to and adopt the faith, doctrine discipline, Canons and constitution of the UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF AMERICA. The TRUSTEES of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Saint Mary's 'Protection shall have the custody of and control of all the temporalities and property, real and personal belonging to the corporation and revenues therefrom, and shall administer the same strictly in accordance with the BY-Laws of the corporation and the rules, regulations and usages of the governing DIOCESAN COUNCIL OF THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF AMERICA.
The members of our 'Parish came from the following provinces-counties of the UKRAINIE - Kiev, Yaroslav Tovmach, Sianok, Zbarazh, Stanislaviv, 'Kalush, Lvi Zboriv, Skalat, Brodi, Horodenko, Rohatin, Zolochiv, Pidhaytsi, iLantsup, Kolomiya, and from Bukowin (which is under Romania).
Over these past years, there have been many who worked very diligently for the parish – both on the parish board and off. The church could not continue without the dedicated work of those who give so much of themselves continuously for the glory of God, and for the brotherhood of man. God bless them all!