In the last decade of the 19th century, the atmosphere of peace concluding the Spanish-American War lingered freshly. William McKinley was President of the United States. The gates of America were opened to Europe's masses of oppressed. Historians record the period as one of national expansion and commercial prosperity.It was during this time, when the influx of emigration from the old world was swelling the population of the new, that some of the newcomers set down their meager belongings in the blossoming town of Taylor, Pennsylvania to be absorbed into the then developing anthracite coal industry.
While some came from Austria, Poland, and Hungary, most left their homes in the valleys and villages of the southwestern fringe of the Carpathian Mountains in central Europe, a territory known as Carpatho-Russia and presently within the boundaries of the Czech and Slovak Republics.
Though their worldly possessions may have consisted of what could be tucked into a battered trunk, or wrapped in a bed sheet, these immigrants cherished a richness of religious conviction in the Orthodox faith of their forebears. Hence in the year 1907, a group of them banded together and founded a church. They supported the church generously until they observed certain latinizations and changes to the Eastern form of worship, traditions, customs, rites and discipline. After seeing these changes taking place, they decided to organize to build a church that would remain faithful to the teachings, customs and traditions of their forefathers. This was the beginning of St. George's Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church.
Since there was no wealth, individually nor collectively, and no professional people among them, the building of a church was a major and difficult undertaking. But determined in their purpose and imbued with a never-say-die spirit, after months of deliberation, the faithful began the tremendous task of building a church for the greater Glory of God. With simple ceremonies they broke ground for the new edifice, and with great enthusiasm, excavating for the foundation got under way. In this again they contributed of their time and labor generously. After a long days work at the coal mines many would report to the site to help with the excavation. God blessed their endeavors and they prospered. The articles of Incorporation were filed on June 25, 1937. The construction of the foundation for the new church was begun on June 29, 1937. A site for the cemetery was purchased from Glen Alden Coal Company on the West Mountain, and after many weeks of hard labor, this land was developed and consecrated on July 25, 1937.
The cornerstone of the church was laid and dedicated on October 3, 1937. Beautiful bells were donated by the members of St. George’s Social Club. They were named (John, Vasil and Stephen) and blessed on January 16, 1938. Finally, the church proper, having been erected and furnished, was solemnly dedicated on May 30, 1938. With impressive ceremonies, the faithful offered their humble prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for His abundant blessings and graces upon the completion of such a tremendous project - the building of a church.
In order to meet the expenses incurred by the construction process, the following parishioners mortgaged their homes as collateral for the project: Michael Butch, Andrew Firda Sr., Nicholas Gula Sr., George Hrindich, Steve Hrindich, Joseph Lebeda, John Matyas Sr., Metro Mochnal, Andrew Petrunchik, Peter Roman and John Saranich. All are now deceased.
In August of 1954, tragedy struck when the hall situated behind the church was completely destroyed by a gas explosion. The officers and trustees immediately set up plans to reconstruct the social club rooms. Land was purchased from the Moffat Coal Company for the purpose of building a huge recreation center, which would serve the people of St. George's Parish as well as the community at large. St. George's Social Club rooms were completely rebuilt and re-opened in November of 1954.
A recreation center was also built featuring all the modern conveniences necessary for an active social organization - - meeting rooms, recreation auditorium for basketball, dances, banquets, receptions, showers, ten new modern bowling lanes, a stage for concerts and plays, Sunday school rooms, and a modern all-electric kitchen. The building of the Recreation Center had filled a crying need for the members of the congregation. It was a dream that came true. The Dedication of the Recreation Center was held on July 22, 1956 and the bowling lanes officially opened over the Labor Day weekend of 1956.
In 1961 the church was damaged by mine subsidence, causing the rear sanctuary area of the church to drop 13 inches. In 1966 a contract was signed to have the church raised and leveled to its proper position. Unfortunately, this was a short term solution to the mine subsidence problem. In the 1970's the Lackawanna County Redevelopment Authority decided that more than 200 homes, two churches and many business places in the Feltsville Patch area were to be condemned because of mine subsidence. St. George’s was included and marked for demolition under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. The membership of St. George’s found themselves forced into looking elsewhere for their future church home. The officers and trustees investigated many sites in the Taylor area. The congregation finally decided on the present location on South Keyser Avenue.
In 1975 the membership was advised by the Redevelopment Authority that the time had indeed arrived for them to move. Several financial offers were made and rejected by the congregation. After a second session before the Lackawanna County Court, the final award of $1,084,000.00 was accepted. The new church complex was completed during the summer of 1979 and formally consecrated and dedicated on October 28, 1979.
The church seats 300, with seating for an additional 50 available in the choir loft. St. George’s Center offers catering for all occasions with beautiful banquet facilities capable of accommodating up to 200 people comfortably.
St. George’s has been blessed with many fine priests who have served the parish since its founding. Without their guidance, prayers and forceful leadership, such material and spiritual progress would never have been possible. The following clergy have served as priests of St. George’s: Rev. Fr. George Berzinec, Very Rev. Protopresbyter Peter Buletza, Rev. Fr. Michael Sisak, Very Rev. Protopresbyter John Zeleniak who served the parish as pastor for 40 years, Very Rev. Protopresbyter Michael Slovesko, and the present pastor, Fr. Mark Leasure.
Today the faithful of St. George’s are committed to continue the virtuous work of their predecessors. The task is upon this generation and future generations to supercede the work of those gone by. Each faithful member of St. George’s is a light to the world, called to set the world aglow with Christian enthusiasm.