Diocese: Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania
Deanery: Altoona-Johnstown Deanery
785 Blaire Rd
Blairsville, Pennsylvania 15717
PO Box 464
Black Lick, PA 15716-0464
Black Lick, PA 15716
St John the Baptist Orthodox Church is located on Blaire Rd in Burrell Township, which is located between the borough of Blairsville and the village of Black Lick. The Church and rectory are located on five acres of land approximately 1 1/2 miles north of the US 22/119 interchange in Indiana County.
From US 22
Take the Indiana exit (US 119N). After approximately 1 1/2 miles, Catalpa Rd will appear on the right. A sign indicating St John’s location can also be seen. Make the first right at the sign on Catalpa and then another right turn on to Blaire Rd. The Church is located 1/2 mile from this turn.
Schedule of Services
6:00 PM Great Vespers.
9:00 AM Church School for children, youth, and young adults; 9:50 AM Hours; 10:00 AM Divine Liturgy.
6:00 PM Great Vespers with Litiya.
Eves of Great Feasts
9:00 AM Divine Liturgy.
Mornings of Great Feasts
Confessions are heard every Saturday after Vespers or by appointment.
St John’s was founded in 1906 as a Greek Catholic parish. A charter was granted to the initial organizers of the parish on July 1, 1908 and the church became officially known as St John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church of Black Lick. St John the Baptist was chosen as the Patron Saint because the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist was the first feast day after the granting of the charter. After the granting of this charter, land was purchased on Seymore St in Black Lick, where the temple was built. In 1909, Fr Arseny Gavula became the first assigned Rector of St John’s.
In the early years of the church, the community was made up primarily of immigrants from Russian, Carpatho-Russian, Serbian, Syrian, Slovak, and Ukrainian descent. These people settled in towns such as Black Lick, Coral, Graceton, Homer City, Tearing Run, Heshbon, Wehrum, and Vintondale. Employment was found in the mines, at the Josephine Furnace and Coke plant, and the Marshal Foundry.
Along with many Byzantine Catholic parishes in the early years of the 20th century, St John’s became involved in the widespread movement towards a reunion with the Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Platon, who in the same year blessed the temple and received the faithful, reunited the Black Lick parish with Orthodoxy in 1910.
In 1918, the Rectory was built. Also in 1918, the Church Cemetary was established in Marshall Heights. The Church hall was built in 1949.
During the late 1950’s and 1960’s the economic climate of the area began to decline, as did the parish. In 1965, discussions concerning the building of a new Church began. In 1966 a major portion of the site for the new Church was purchased. A new building was becoming a necessity because of structural deficiencies in the old building, together with the drastic deterioration of the neighborhood surrounding the old parish complex. During the time period between 1966 and 1975, several options were reviewed in relation to the old Church building. The building of a new Church became more of a reality because of the spiritual renewal which had taken place in the 1970’s, which was nurtured by an increase in the celebration of the divine services in their full cycle, which remains the foundation of the life of the parish to this day. In 1975 plans for a new Church were drawn. In 1976, a blessing was received from Bishop Theodosius of Pittsburgh approving the plans and permitting the first service at the new Church site. This service was a Molieben of Thanksgiving held on July 4, 1976, which marked the beginning of actual construction. Finally, in 1984, Metropolitan Theodosius, Bishop Kyrill and Bishop Job consecrated the new Temple.
Today, St John’s continues to confront the demographic problems which affect most of Western Pennsylvania. However, our parish community sits on the crossroads of a developing area. A four lane highway linking Indiana, PA with Blairsville is under construction and is attracting new commercial and residential development. Nearby Indiana University of Pennsylvania provides a rich university environment and a prime missionary focus as more and more converts seek the fullness of Orthodoxy. With a beautiful temple, a centralized location, English as our liturgical language, and a warm, diverse and dedicated parish membership, St Johns stands poised for mission and a new cycle of growth and life.