Diocese: Diocese of the Midwest
Deanery: Kansas City Deanery
1901 Ann Ave
St Louis, Missouri 63104-2703
St Louis, MO 63125
I-70 west to I-55 south/I-44 west. Bear right to 1st exit 12th/Gravois Ave. Turn right and proceed two blocks to Ann Ave. Church is on the corner of Ann Ave and Gravois. Parking on street only.
From the west
I-70 east to I-55 south/I-44 west. Exit at 12th/Gravois Ave. Turn right and proceed two blocks to Ann Ave. Church is on the corner of Ann Ave and Gravois. Parking on street only.
From the south
Take I-55 north to Gravois exit. Turn right to the first street (13th St) and turn left. Turn left again and proceed two blocks to Ann Ave. Church is on the corner of Ann Ave and Gravois Ave. Parking on street only.
Schedule of Services
5:00 PM Vespers and private Confession.
10:00 AM Divine Liturgy followed by coffee hour.
Contact clergy for schedule of weekday Feast Day services.
Mornings of Great Feasts
The Early years
Our parish was made up of immigrants from parts of Europe such as Austria-Hungary, Galicia and Russia. They sought work in the mining areas of Illinois and Missouri and subsequently a few settled in St. Louis. As they began to gain security, the need to keep their Orthodox Faith grew strong which resulted in the founding of St. Michael the Archangel Russian Orthodox church in October 1909.
How different things were when St. Michael’s was founded. It was the age of the horse and buggy and flourishing blacksmith shops; the Model T Ford was just introduced in 1909; Gravois was a cobblestone thoroughfare on which the Bellefontaine streetcar traveled; gaslights were lit by the lamplighter; newscasts were first introduced in still movie houses and crystal radio sets; water for cooking, cleaning and drinking had to be drawn by pump; and air-conditioning was not even a dream.
In addition to this mode of life, our founders also found themselves in a land of strange customs and languages. In spite of all these conditions, they began plans for a new church. Since it was financially impossible to do so at first, they rented stores for special religious services and gatherings. Their next move was to purchase a home at 1125 Hickory Street for $7,000, which they converted into a temporary house of worship. The first floor was redone where church services were held. The second floor was used as living quarters for the priest and the third floor was utilized as a meeting hall. The belfry built by Mr. Harry Trofimoff was placed on the empty lot next door.
The first priest who was assigned to serve St. Michael’s was the Rev. Michael Pazdry. The Church was blessed by His Grace, the Most Reverend Bishop Alexander.
During the years 1909-1926, a number of priests served St. Michael’s parish; Hieromonk Ioanniky (1909), Rev. Alexander Vyacheslavov (1910-1912) (and served again in 1914), Rev. Alexy Alekhin (1913), Rev. Alexy Dankevich (1915), Rev. L. Zakrevsky (1916), Rev. Gregory Matveychuk (1917 and served again in 1923), Rev. John Zitinsky (1917), Rev. Wasiliev (1917), Rev. Ieronim Lutsik (1918), Rev. Andrew Solanka (1919), Rev. Hariton Velma (1919), Rev. Paul Lisak (1920), Rev. Constantin Sukhostavsky (1920), Rev. Alexy Borokhovich (1921-1922), Rev. Nicholas Koshevich (1923-1924), and V. Rev. Arkhip Searbu (1925-1926).
Building Plans fulfilled
Early in 1926 the parishioners began planning for a new church building and on December 12, 1926 started a drive for an estimated $45,000 needed for this purpose. A groundbreaking took place in 1927 when Rev. Joseph Hunchak (1927-1929) was serving as pastor. The cornerstone was blessed by His Grace, the Most Reverend Bishop Theophilus (later elevated to the rank of His Eminence, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Theophilus) and assisted by Father Hunchak, Father Zaychenko of Madison, Illinois and Father Tertichny (then of Benld, Illinois) as well as clergy from other Orthodox Churches in the St. Louis Area.
The dedication of the new church of the new church building took place on June 2, 1929 with his Eminence, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Platon officiating and assisted by Father Hunchak, Father Tertichny of Benld, Father Warlashkin of Buckner, Father Sveridoff of Royalton and Father Antonishin of Desloge.
When Father Hunchak was transferred from our parish, the following priests served St. Michael’s: Rev. Nicholas Levitsky (1930), Rev. Daniel Gilevich (1931), Rev. Lazar Kirichenko (1931), V. Rev. Alexander Pogrebniak (1932), Mitred Archpriest John Tertichny (1932-1974) and Rev. David Homiak (1975-1978).
Our next pastor, V. Rev. Paul Sawchak came to serve St. Michael’s in August 1978, with his two sons, Timothy and Stephen, and his parents Helen and Stephen Sawchak. Our present pastor Rev. Josef Klarr arrived in April of 2001.
Years of Struggle and Growth
For the next several years, the parishioners lived through trying times, raising their families during the Great Depression and at the same time managing to hold the congregation together through their love of God and their Faith. This was followed by World War II when many of our young men and women (Nina Van Rees of our parish) were called to serve in the Armed Forces which left the women and the older men to carry on the work in the church.
When the war ended and veterans returned, there was need for a renewal of responsibilities and programs for the fulfillment of spiritual needs of the parish as well as the upkeep of the church building. The Ladies Sodality and the Men’s Club promoted various fund raising projects, which resulted in the installation of church pews. Major improvements followed such as installation of a gas furnace and blown in acoustical ceiling. A new roof was added, the belfry was enclosed and stainless steel crosses were added to the outside cupolas. The beautiful crystal chandelier, imported from Greece, will always be a special remembrance from Mr. Terenti Miller.
At this point we would like to interject a few nostalgic memories. Remember when we marched to the Serbian Hall on Barry Street with our church banners, flags, etc. for our banquets; when our choir gave many concerts because of the interest of St. Louisans in our music; the Valentine Dances sponsored by the Men’s Club and the Barn Dances by the Ladies’ Sodality? How about the church picnics at Hobart’s Grove and Tillies Park, and the huge success of the Balalaika Bazaar in 1957? These are but a few of the events that made our social life interesting at St. Michael’s and kept us working together as a team.
The Fifties and Sixties
Communication among our parishioners and friends was established through the church bulletin, which has kept spiritual and special messages going to our homes since June 1956.
Our Church School had its beginning in 1951 when seventeen children, from four to sixteen years of age were enrolled in a Monday Evening Bible Class with two teachers. In 1953 this class was changed to Sunday morning sessions and by 1958 there were sixty students enrolled with six teachers, a peak period in the life of this religious activity.
In 1962 a Senior FROC Club was organized which presented an opportunity for contacts outside of our parish, which generated additional activities of great benefit to the spiritual and social aspect of the parish.
The Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties
In 1970 a fund was started to cover the cost of new Bysantine Icons painted by Dhimitri Zonia, a St. Louis artist and former member of our parish in his youth. A blessing of the Icons and the Mural of the Resurrection took place in November 1972 by His Eminence, Archbishop John. In November 1973, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, blessed the Mural of the Mother of God. For the 75th Anniversary, Mr. Zonia again made it possible for additional Icons to be blessed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius.
Also during this period of time we needed a parish home, and property near the church was purchased and remodeled. This proved quite adequate for a time but an opportunity presented itself to purchase our present rectory in South County in August 1977.
Our parish became more involved in civic and community events such as the annual International Folk Festivals held in Forest Park, Gardenfests of the Garden Tower Community Association, McKinley-Fox and Bevo activities, the V-P Fair Festival and our choir’s participation in “Christmas Around the World” at the Old Court House where Christmas Carols and traditions of many lands are featured each year. Participation in these events was the result of dedicated parish members whose efforts created an opportunity for fellowship and learning processes for many.
Another opportunity for fellowship is the coffee hour on Sundays after Liturgy. This project was begun to generate funds for the purchase of materials when the church school was organized and is now a source of funds for the seminaries.
The one event that has brought many visitors and friends at our church hall has been the “Around the Samovar” Bazaar, which was begun in October 1975. Also Fish Fries have been ongoing for several years during the Lenten Season. Our Mission Dinners were started in 1982 for the purpose of assisting needy mission parishes in our Midwest Diocese. The Christmas cookie project has been a big part of the Christmas Season, and Flea Markets have been held in the spring of several years. Also, we recently started a Barbecue project.
More improvements in our church building were completed such as remodeling and enlarging the church hall, additional kitchen equipment, construction of an inside entrance to the hall from the church area proper, and remodeling of the choir loft. Also several more Icons were added throughout the church: Meeting of our Lord in the Temple, Sts. Joachim and Anna, Sts. Elizabeth and Zacharias, the Bicentennial Icon, St. Alexis, St. Jacob and many others.
New lovely light fixtures replaced the old ones. New carpeting was installed in the choir loft, all stairwells and in the center of the aisle of the church. A guest bookstand was refinished and placed in the vestibule.
On the outside of the church building a canopy was placed over the front entrance to the church. The hedges around the church were removed and an ornamental iron fence was installed. A new Church Directory sign was added on the church lawn where we keep showing the different holy day services and events happening in our parish. The church lawn has been kept up through the many donations of our parishioners.
Our parish was a pick-up point for several drives that our deanery area had for the purpose of humanitarian aid for Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe. We had well over 300 boxes of clothing, food, medicine, and books that were collected from our parishioners and neighboring parishes. Also, our parish has been participating in a Meal-of-the-Month project, which is serving our community.
A most recent project has been the covering of our windows with Lexon glass for protection from vandalism. Also, we are in the process of setting up a corner at the front of the Iconostas specifically for candles to be lit for the sick. This balances out the area that is already set up for candles to be lit for our loved ones who have entered eternal life. In addition, we are in the process of having a St. Michael Icon done in glass to be placed in the round window above the front doors of our church.
In a spiritual way our parish experienced the following significant events during 1994 with his Grace Bishop JOB officiating: The Ordination of Deacon Thomas George to the Priesthood on January 30: the Ordination of Deacon Timothy Sawchak to the Priesthood on August 13, and the jeweled cross bestowed on Father Paul Sawchak at Father Timothy Sawchak’s ordination. Another significant event was the observance of Father Paul Sawchak’s 25th Anniversary of his Priesthood (April 6) on May 15.
In counting our blessings at St. Michael’s, our thoughts turn to the many “behind the scenes” projects that continue in a quiet way and results are always evident. We are grateful to:
The individuals who serve on the Parish Council; The Busy Bees group that keeps our church a neat place in which to worship; The candle staff who faithfully take care of setting up our candles, that are so much a part of our prayers, and seeing that there is a good supply of candles at all times; The choir members who endure practices and come through beautifully for all church services required; The Church School staff who take care of the students every Sunday morning; The Altar boys who do their best at church services; All the Piroghi workers whose work is really a labor of love. They keep our freezers filled with this popular food item for many people to enjoy. We are grateful to all who had a hand in all our projects and we wish we had space to mention all the thoughtful individuals whose donations and efforts through the years added much to the beauty of the church we are enjoying today.
We have tried to cover as many points of interest as time and space would permit. Our hope is that we have conveyed to you the love and devotion that has prevailed throughout the past 85 years. Let us pray that in the years ahead we will continue to glorify God and serve Him and our fellowman as well.