The history of St. John the Baptist Church
The first group of our ancestors arrived in the Pottstown area in 1893 from the Austro Hungarian Empire, mainly from the Sub-Carpathian region which is now Slovakia and Ukraine. These pioneers proved to be the founders of our church, among them were John Artim, Michael Dezura, Michael Korinko, Andrew Parvenski, John Savko and Michael Suchoza.
The church committee was formed in 1901 and consulted with Father Hrabar, pastor of St. Michael's Church in Mont Clare, about establishing a Byzantine Rite parish in Pottstown. Father Hrabar graciously consented to come to Pottstown from time to time to offer the Divine Liturgy and administer the Sacraments.
Two lots were purchased at Vine and Walnut streets in Stowe to serve as the location of the new church.
St. John's parish was born in 1903. The church was chartered under the name of St. John the Baptist church of Stowe, Pennsylvania. Since the majority of the members lived in Pottstown they pressed for the church to be located there. A new location was found and ground was purchased.
On August 17th 1903 ground was broken for the erection of the new church. Dedication ceremony was held on November 22 by the most Reverend Andrew Hodobay, Apostolic Visitator.
In 1913 Bishop Soter Ortinsky assigned a permanent resident pastor to our parish. From 1903 to this date various priests served our parish intermittently. Father Michael Kuziv was named the first resident pastor of saint John's however due to shortage of priests the parish did not always have a permanent resident pastor.
Father Zenon was appointed as pastor in 1922 and he immediately started a campaign for a new and larger church, which he designed himself having a background in architecture. Tragically, he suffered from ill health following his service in World War I and was later forced to retire to a sanatorium. He is buried in our cemetery.
It fell to Father Peter Kustan, our new pastor in 1926 to continue the construction of the new church. The parish was growing due to larger arrivals of new immigrants.
In 1929 Bishop Takach presided at the laying of the cornerstone of the new church on May 30th, and the old church was torn down.
Reverend John D. Taptich was assigned as the new pastor of our church in 1930. The newly built church was beautifully decorated inside with imported marble statues and many paintings by renowned church artists of that day. Additional land was purchased for the future parochial school.
In 1947 the Church mortgage was burned at a banquet attended by Bishop Daniel Ivancho. Father Taptich celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination.
St. John's parochial school was built and dedicated in 1958. Bishop Nicholas T. Elko came to bless the new school building. Numerous local clergy attended the celebration. Sisters of St. Basil from Uniontown, Pennsylvania staffed the new school.
The 80th anniversary celebration in 1983 brought a new Icon Screen and Baldachino. The Most Reverend Michael J. Dudick, our bishop, and the Most Reverend Thomas J. Dolinay, Bishop of Van Nuys were here to bless the occasion and the new amenities for the church.
In 1987, Father Nicholas de Prospero was assigned to be our new pastor and spiritual leader. His selfless dedication to his pastoral work is an inspiration to all of us. Our parish has grown spiritually and physically in his able leadership. We are truly blessed to have his presence among us.
We had the privilege in 1988 to witness in our church, the ordinations to the Holy Priesthood of three seminarians, Deacons Edward Cimbala, Eugene Hutter and William O'Brien. Ordaining Bishops were the Most Reverend Michael Dudick, Most Reverend Thomas Dolinay and Most Reverend George Kuzma. A festive banquet followed. Newly ordained permanent deacon Michael Erdek was assigned by Bishop Dudick to serve in our parish.
A new parishioner Alex Riebe, along with Frances Petro were named co-coordinators of our school of religious education in 1989. Several new teachers were added due to considerable increase in enrollment. High school and Pre-K classes were added. Adult religious education class was started by Deacon Michael.
In 2001 two assistant cantors were appointed by father Nicholas, Alex Riebe and Paul Chrin, to assist our cantor, George Parvenski.
God has blessed are parish with 100 years of spiritual and physical growth. We look confidently to the future. We shall continue to build on the foundations of our dedicated predecessors.