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St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church Oregon (Toledo), Ohio
St. Michael parish is a Ruthenian Catholic Church, which uses the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite. Accordingly, St. Michael is in full communion with the Bishop of Rome (more commonly referred to as the Pope of Rome) and is a parish within the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma.
Early in the Twentieth Century, Hungarian Greek Catholic immigrants living in the Birmingham neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio, organized the St. Michael’s Greek Catholic Sick and Benefit Society. This organization was pledged to provide what we, today, would call fraternal insurance, such as is provided by the Greek Catholic Union
These Hungarian people were proud of their Greek-Catholic heritage, and in 1910 made the first arrangements we know of to have the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Marblehead come to Toledo occasionally to take services for them. This was done with the approval of the Most Reverend Soter Ortynsky, our Greek Catholic Exarch.
In June 1912 property was offered by a benefactor for a new church and rectory, an offer that was eagerly accepted. The basement was finished in 1913 and was used for services immediately; the wooden church was completed in 1915. Under the leadership of the first pastor, the Reverend Laszlo Berecz, 163 baptisms were recorded–in four years! He also oversaw the construction of a rectory next door to the church.
In the early years of the parish, the thirteen-year long pastorate (1931-1944) of the Reverend Valentine Orosz stands out as a period of spiritual and material growth. Fr. Valentine saw the St. Michael’s Greek Catholic Sick and Benefit Society grow to 200 members; he organized the St. Mary’s Society for young people of high school age and the Dramatic Society, also for youth. He is remembered as a fine priest, a gentleman and a natty dresser! To this day many parishioners insist his tenure was longer–he did so much.
In 1946, the Reverend Nicholas Szabo arrived in Toledo, and it did not take him long to realize that the little wooden church no longer met the needs of the parish. Without sacrificing spiritual concerns, Fr. Szabo embarked on a project that included the enlarging and remodeling of the church and extensive remodeling of the rectory. Perhaps Fr. Szabo’s greatest contribution to St. Michael Parish was his introduction of a Divine Liturgy celebrated in English in 1957. He wanted to insure the future of the parish by providing a Liturgy for the American-born children and grandchildren of those first immigrant families. It was not popular with many of the older parishioners, but was successful in its purpose.
Between 1965 and 1972 five pastors served St. Michael in rapid succession. Finally, in 1972, the Reverend Stanley Bartkus was assigned as pastor and led the parish through 1976. During Fr. Stanley’s tenure, land was purchased in nearby Oregon, Ohio, with future expansion in mind. Though the purchase was not supported by a number of parishioners, it has been proven by time to have been a wise decision.
During the tenure of the Reverend Michael Huszti a new building, offering space for a church and hall, was constructed on the Oregon property. Located on a busy State Route, it could not be better placed to attract attention to God’s Church. The new church and hall was dedicated in 1983. On August 1, 1985, Father Jim Kubajak became the 21st pastor of St. Michael Parish. Presently, He is the longest-tenured pastor in the history of the parish. In August 2003, on his 52nd birthday, Father Deacon Jim Sofalvi was ordained in a two-hour ceremony and is the first deacon in the history of the parish. Father Deacon Jim has been a life long member of the parish. In 2005 the parish created a website which is located at http://www.stmichaelstoledo.org.
Today, St. Michael Parish represents the Byzantine Catholic Church in Northwest Ohio. The hall is well-known for the parties and wedding receptions and offers an opportunity for a look at the church which is correctly-appointed and beautiful. Use of the hall is often provided for civic events, especially to the Oregon City Schools. Besides attending Liturgical services, parishioners are active in volunteering for work at the parish, Tuesday Night Bingo, Csáladi Hungarian Folk Ensemble group, a fine Eastern Christian Formation program, religious education; and there are always young men to serve at the Lord’s table. The faithfulness of the Hungarian Byzantine Catholic people of Toledo has been and remains unparalleled.