St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA

A Play For Camp - August 5, 2002
by Fr. Rodney Torbic

St. George-Carmichaels

Setting-The St. George Serbian Orthodox Church hall. Participants: Mrs. Mildred Mickey, Eric Rose, Pete Smargie, Mac Rogish, Rose Zorich.

Eric-Mrs. Mickey, I am curious about the history of the St. George Church. My grandfather, Bill Kotch, served in the altar when Fr.Svetozar and Fr.Djokan were here. I would like to know more about the Church.

Mrs.Mickey-I have been part of the Church for a long time. When Fr.Bronko came here, he asked me to teach Sunday School classes. I have seen a lot of young boys and girls go through classes. They are now adults and still remember the classes we had.

Eric-How did the Church end up here in Carmichaels, so close to Masontown?

Mrs.Mickey: That would be a good question to ask Mac Rogish. Mac helped pick out the place where the Church is located. Let’s ask Mac.

Eric-I’ll do that.(Turning to Mac who is sitting nearby), “Mac, can I talk to you a minute?

Mac-Sure Eric, what can I do for you?

Eric-I am trying to learn a little more about the history of St. George Church. I wondered how it got to be located here in Carmichaels, near Masontown.

Mac-We got a good deal on the property here from Mr. Hartley. The location was in the center of the different coal patches where our Serbian People lived. You know most of our men worked in the mines. Serbian families came here for work. Mine work is hard work, but it provided for our people.

Eric-I knew our people lived in patches like Nemacolin, Crucible, Shoaf, Ronco, Edenborn. My dad works at Blacksville II. I’ve heard stories about Robena and the other mines in the area.

Mac-Our parish is pretty big. It stretches down to West Virginia. We have folks from Smock, Uniontown, Fayette City, Waynesburg, Little Washington, Richeyville and Fredericktown. Marsha Djonovich is from way down in French Creek, West Virginia. Pearl Zivkovich and Nick and Rose Illich live in Fairmont, West Virginia. The Vaughn’s live way out in New Freeport, well past Waynesburg.

Eric-Kathryn Sage and Dorothy Bozick are from Brownsville. I know we’ve had other people from there, too. Berta Decovich and Swetko Davidovich live down in Denbo.

Mac-Diane Trbovich is from Brownsville. So are the Pasquini’s. Dolores Zivkovich is from East Millsboro. She lives in the house built by George Zivkovich, first Executive Board President of St. George. George’s wife’s name was Danica. The Zivkovich’s grandson Mark is one of two seminary graduates from this parish. Fr.George Yatsko is the other seminary graduate from here.

Eric-How did the Church get the name of St. George?

Mac-It’s is best you ask the priest that question.

Eric-I’ll do that. Here he comes through the door now.

Father: Hi Mrs. Mickey! Hi Mac! Hi Eric! It is good to see you!

Eric: Father we have been talking about the St. George Church and I have a few questions. Can you help me.

Father: Ask away, Eric. I’ll answer what I can.

Eric-How did the Church get the name “St. George?”.

Father-Eric, Orthodox Churches are generally named after a Feast of the Lord, a Feast of the Mother of God or a saint. In our case, it is a saint. St. George is a very popular saint among the Serbian People. He is celebrated on May 6 each year.

Eric-We normally have a dinner to celebrate St. George in May. Often His Grace Bishop MITROPHAN comes. I know it is a big day.

Father: It is a big day. It is the parish Slava. Many families celebrate St. George as their Slava. The Slava is the Serbian practice of remembering with great honor the day the family became Orthodox Christian.

Eric-Can you tell me a little more about St. George?

Father-St. George lived at a time Christians were persecuted. Christians are still persecuted today in many places. We need to pray for them.

Eric-What about St. George? Tell me more.

Father-St. George was born to wealthy parents. He entered the military and gained the rank of tribune. St. George confessed Christ. As a result, he was tortured by on orders of the Emperor Diocletian. He was put on a wheel with nails in it. He was buried and was fed poison. In the end, St. George was beheaded. St. George died in the year 303.

Eric-That’s is interesting. St. George has been remembered for many years.

Father-The Holy Orthodox Church remembers and has been shaped by the blood of the martyrs and the lives of the saints. Our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the Cross. We have to honor and always remember the holiness of those who have gone before us.

Eric-My uncle Guy goes to the St. George Church in Canton. Do we have other St. George Churches in the Diocese?

Father-Yes. We have St. George Churches in Lorain, Ohio, in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, and in Elizabeth, New Jersey. All five of these are in the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. St. George is a saint for all Orthodox Christians. In Pittsburgh, an Antiochian Orthodox Church is dedicated to St. George. In Thessalonica, in Greece, the Church of St. George is round in shape.

Eric-Wow. Tell me more.

Father-Well, Eric. Our choir sings the tropar-the poem to St. George each Sunday. This poem, we hear it sung as Jako pljenih means in English: “Being a deliverer of captives, and the protector of the poor, a healer of those who are sick, a combatant of kings, O victor and Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.”

Eric-I like learning about the Church.

Father-We are stronger as Christians when we have information about our beliefs.

Eric-Can you tell me a little about the icon of St.George with the dragon?

Father-Records say that St. George killed the dragon which was worshipped by pagans. This was done in the name of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to save the life of a young girl about to fed to the dragon. The girl, known as Elisaba or Elizabeth, was the daughter of the local king in an area called Lybia. This miracle occurred after St. George’s death. St. George is seen as freeing people from paganism.

Eric-Are people still freed by St. George?

Father: People continue to pray to St. George that he will intercede with Jesus Christ for them. We have prayers here at St. George Church to St. George regularly. Just think how many people you know named George. Their names come from the saint.

Eric-We have George Rodavich. George Radovich died this past year. We had George Zivkovich. I can probably think of some others.

Father-St. George is known as the deliverer of prisoners and protector of the He is the patron of agriculture, herds, flocks and shepherds. He has helped them during his life and after his death.

Eric-I see Pete Smargie just came through the door. Pete has great interest in the St. George Church.

Pete-I sure am interested in this Church and in St. George. I took care of the grounds and cemetery here for years. I still get calls when something breaks or help is needed.

Eric-Pete, can you give me more information about St. George?

Pete-Our choir celebrates November 16 as the choir Slava. On November 16 the Holy Orthodox Church remembers the translation of the relics of St. George from Nicomedia where he suffered to Lydda, in Palestine.

Mrs.Mickey-Pete, wasn’t your daughter Janice, Kuma, for the choir Slava last year.

Pete-Yes. Janice grew up in this Church. She sang in the St. George Choir which sings the responses so well at each Divine Liturgy. We are blessed to have a wonderful choir at St. George Church.

Mrs.Mickey-The choir has had faithful members. Joe Katusa, Stella Shlosky, Anna Mae Knezevich, Ivko Dimitric, Jerry Milosevich, Paulette Radock and Nadezda Rogish are in the choir now. People remember the singing of Pearl Yanosik, Metro and Meridith Savage, and Lou and Paul Yancich.

Pete-I can still remember the voices of Pete Zivkovich, Don Vuich, Paula Belch, Martha Sweda, Ann Novak and the many other faithful choir mem bers of the past.

Mrs.Mickey-Our choir had good members like Joe Popovich, Irene Kotch, George and Steve Knezovich and Nick Milak.

Pete-Your daughter Sonia is following in your footsteps with the St. George Church. She has been with the St. George Choir for years, is doing a fine job directing the choir and is President of the Kolo.

Mrs.Mickey-My grandaughter Andrea is up there singing on a regular basis and helps out with directing from time to time.

Mac-The Kolo puts in a lot of hours each week. I don’t much of chance to get a smoke break with all the baking we do on Tuesdays.

Pete-Dorothy and Grandma are at the Church every time the women bake. Dorothy gets roll orders during the week and we make trips to the Church to pick up the orders.

Father-Mickey Zorman comes in bright and early each time the Kolo bakes. Mickey and her sister Ann have helped make plenty of rolls.

Pete-The Kolo ladies are well-organized. They pitch in and have contributed greatly to the Church through the roll-baking project. Kathryn and Dorothy are regulars, as is Francis Dragich, Mim Belch and Mary Trbovich. Joe Hunchuck has ground countless pounds of nuts over the years. Melva Hunchuck keeps the pressure on for the production to keep going. Mitzi Hunchuck shows up from time to time to bake. Mitzi doubles as the Parish Nurse. God bless Irene Yancich for taking time to come in from Richeyville on bake days. If you look carefully, you will see Anna Mae Knezovich working hard to make the rolls. Anna Mae’s niece Linda Porter has been known to help the Kolo. Stella Shlosky and Wilma Milosevich are numbered among the women who have helped make rolls.

Mrs.Mickey- “Cousin” Serb Krewasky, Ann’s son, checks with the bakers regularly to see if they need to have anything picked up. He is a willing helper and his photos are providing an important historical record of the Church activities. Serb is the man responsible for getting the signs put up marking “Serbiantown” in the area where his mother and other Serbian families lived.

Pete-When you mention Serb, you can’t forget the good work he has done with the lamb roasts at each picnic. He and his crew of roasters-Evo, Bert, Lloyd, Newt, Jimmy, and the rest of the guys have a reputation that is far-reaching in producing good quality lamb.

Mac-When Father Bronko was here, we had picnics every week. Cars were lined up across the Masontown bridge.

Pete-I think if we are going to give Eric some information about the Church, we need to get Rose Zorich on the phone. She knows the history of the Church well. (Pete dials the phone. It rings and Rose answers). Rose, we here talking to Eric about the St. George and you can help us fill in information.

Rose-I’ll be glad to help. When I was younger, I was always happy to work for the Church.

Pete-Rose would you tell Eric the names of the some of the priests you remember?

Rose-I remember them all. I will just list the ones that come to mind now. Fr.Djokan. He was the last one. He went to New York. Before him, was Fr.Svetozar. He was here for quite awhile. Fr.Bronko was the longest priest here. Fr.Adam Yonitch, he went to the Air Force. He was here a good number of years. Fr.Milan Sturgis was another one who went to the military.

Mac(taking the phone)-Rose do you remember Fr.Nikodim, that monk we had here?

Rose-I sure do! Before him, we had Fr.Prodanovich and Fr.Sokolovich. We have good priests here.

Pete-We have been a training ground priests. Many priests came here as their first parish. Rose, you and Mac, and Mrs. Mickey and my mother-in-law, Dorothy’s mother, are the long-livers in this parish.

Eric-I’d like to know a little more about how the Church is organized.

Father-Well, Eric, we have the Diocese which now has probably over thirty churches including missions, from Maine to Florida. The Diocese is headed by His Grace Bishop MITROPHAN. There is a Diocesan Administrative Board, Diocesan Council and Diocesan Court. Each parish has an Executive Board.

Mac-Eric, you know Nick. He is in the Altar each Sunday. He is President of the Executive Board. For many years Grover Milosevich was President of the Board. Stanko Brozik was our youngest President. George Zivkovich was the First President.

Pete-I am Head Tutor. We take care of the candles, collections, distribute service books, greet visitors and help keep order when Church services are held.

Eric-I like being in the Altar. Soon maybe my brother William will be able to help. He tried it for awhile but was too young.

Mac-A new program at the Church I like is the Overnight Camp. We have had three of them. Mickey Bezjak, long-time Church School Coordinator, has overseen the camp each year.

Mrs. Mickey-Mickey is my sister Dora’s daughter. She has been with the Church School a longtime. Dora worked hard for the Church. Mickey works hard for to make the camp a success each year. Marion Luteran has pitched in. Nick has helped. Ben shows up from Masontown. Rick Rodavich has lent a hand when needed. Stella Shlosky and Millie Pritz are among the current parishioners who helped teach in the Church School.

Pete-Jennifer Michelli brought the fire emergeny wagon to camp two years ago. That was a big hit with the campers. George Rodavich brought a goat one year. Swimming at the Hunchucks was a feature the first three years. The campers had lunch at Dolfi’s for two years.

Mac-The priest from Pittsburgh has been here for each of the camps. He brings his family. His name is Father Rajko Kosic. His wife is Popadija Vera. Fr.Rajko is Dean of Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Stevan and Milica, their two children look forward to camp.

Pete-Father Djokan’s Popadija Mirijana, Savo and Marta were here for the first two camps. Prota Adam and Protonica Robbie helped with the first camp. Last year Father Aleksandar and Matushka Marina were here from St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Masontown with their children.

Mrs.Mickey-Eric is there more you would like to know about St. George Church?

Eric-There is Mrs.Mickey, but it will have to wait for another time. I must get to work. You and Father and Mac and Pete and Rose have given me plenty to think about. Thank you.

Pete-While your are thinking Eric, don’t forget the many veterans who have been in this Church. And don’t forget the hard work the miners did that resulted in the building of this Church.

Father-Eric, keep in mind we are the Holy Orthodox Church. We are the Church of St. Sava. Remember the Martyrs of Kosovo. Pray to St. George.

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