Holy Assumption Church

Central City, Pennsylvania

Holy Assumption Church

Founded 1917

Diocese: Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania

Deanery: Altoona-Johnstown Deanery

Address

635 Sunshine Ave
Central City, Pennsylvania 15926

Office: 814-977-7397

Church: 814-754-4054

Parish Contacts

Rev. Elijah J. Bremer
Rector
412 Short Cut Rd
Alum Bank, PA 15521
Home: 814-839-2657
V. Rev. John Govrusik
Retired, Attached

Lay Leadership

Russell Malkin
Parish President
Home: 814-754-5652
Eugene Pituch
Choir Director

Directions

General Location
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (or more commonly known as St. Mary’s) is located in the Borough of Central City, PA in northeastern Somerset County.  It serves parishioners living in Somerset, Cambria, and Bedford Counties and is central to the larger cities of Somerset (to the south and west), Johnstown (to the north), and Bedford (to the east).  St. Mary’s also serves as the “mother parish” to SS Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Boswell, PA and SS Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Pine Hill, PA.  The community of Central City sits atop the beautiful Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountain Range of the Appalachian Mountains.  Many tourist attractions are within a short drive from the church including the Flight 93 Memorial and Quecreek Mine Rescue Sites as well as Seven Springs and Hidden Valley Ski Resorts.  Despite a declining population now standing at 1,233 (2002), there are still two Orthodox churches in town.

Via US Route 30 from the west
Take US Route 30 east to Route 160 (Reels Corners).  Turn left at flashing yellow light and follow Route 160 north to Central City (4.6 miles).  When entering the borough limits, stay on Route 160 instead of continuing on Lambert St.  Drive through town and pass Mulcahy’s Funeral Home, the post office, fire hall and the bank.  Instead of turning left to continue on S.R. 160 (Main Street), keep straight on Sunshine Avenue for one block.  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Via US Route 30 from the east
Take US Route 30 west to Route 160 (Reels Corners).  Turn right at flashing yellow light and follow Route 160 north to Central City (4.6 miles).  When entering the borough limits, stay on Route 160 instead of continuing on Lambert St.  Drive through town and pass Mulcahy’s Funeral Home, the post office,fire hall and the bank.  Instead of turning left to continue on S.R. 160 (Main Street), keep straight on Sunshine Avenue for one block.  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Via US Route 219 from the south
Take US Route 219 north to US Route 30, proceed eastbound for 12 miles to Reels Corners (Route 160).  Turn left at flashing yellow light and follow Route 160 north to Central City (4.6 miles).  When entering the borough limits, stay on Route 160 instead of continuing on Lambert St.  Drive through town and pass Mulcahy’s Funeral Home, the post office, fire hall and the bank.  Instead of turning left to continue on S.R. 160 (Main Street), keep straight on Sunshine Avenue for one block.  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Via US Route 219 from the north
Take US Route 219 south to Route 56.  Follow Route 56 eastbound for 3.9 miles and take Route 160 (Central City) Exit.  Take Route 160 south to Central City (10 miles).  Turn left at first stop sign (Sunshine Avenue).  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Via I-76 (PA Turnpike) from the west
Take I-76 to Milepost Exit / Old Exit 10 (Somerset).  Upon exiting the toll plaza, go straight at the first light onto Pleasant Avenue.  At second light, turn left onto S.R. 281 (Stoyshown Road).  Follow S.R. 281 north for 9 miles to US Route 30.  Take US Route 30 east for 7.4 miles to Reels Corners (Route 160).  Turn left at flashing yellow light and follow Route 160 north to Central City (4.6 miles). When entering the borough limits, stay on Route 160 instead of continuing on Lambert St.  Drive through town and pass Mulcahy’s Funeral Home, the post office, fire hall and the bank.  Instead of turning left to continue on S.R. 160 (Main Street), keep straight on Sunshine Avenue for one block.  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Via I-76 (PA Turnpike) from the west
Take 76 to Milepost Exit 146 / Old Exit 11 (Bedford).  Upon exiting the toll plaza, turn left at first light onto US Business 220.  Take US Business 220 0.5 miles north.  Turn left at next light and travel 0.4 miles to I-99.  Take I-99 south for 2.2 miles to US Route 30 Bypass (Milepost Exit 1).  Take Bypass West for 1 mile and US Route 30 18 more miles to Reels Corners (Route 160).  Turn right at flashing yellow light and follow Route 160 north to Central City (4.6 miles). When entering the borough limits, stay on Route 160 instead of continuing on Lambert St.  Drive through town and pass Mulcahy’s Funeral Home, the post office, fire hall and the bank.  Instead of turning left to continue on S.R. 160 (Main Street), keep straight on Sunshine Avenue for one block.  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Via I-99/U.S. 220 from the north
Take I-99 south to US Route 22 (Milepost Exit 28).  Take US Route 22 west for 21 miles to US Route 219.  Proceed on US Route 219 south for 16 miles to Route 56.  Follow Route 56 eastbound for 3.9 miles and take Route 160 (Central City) Exit.  Take Route 160 south to Central City (10 miles).  Turn left at first stop sign.  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Via I-99/U.S. 220 from the south
Take I-99 north to US Route 30 Bypass (Milepost Exit 1).  Take Bypass west for 1 mile and US Route 30 18 more miles to Reels Corners.  Turn right at flashing yellow light and follow Route 160 north to Central City (4.6 miles).  When entering the borough limits, stay on Route 160 instead of continuing on Lambert St.  Drive through town and pass Mulcahy’s Funeral Home, the post office, fire hall and the bank.  Instead of turning left to continue on S.R. 160 (Main Street), keep straight on Sunshine Avenue for one block.  Church is on right just past Jack’s Supermarket.

Schedule of Services

St. Mary’s Church follows the Julian Calendar.

7:30 AM Divine Liturgy.
Daily—Morning

9:00 AM Divine Liturgy or 8:00 AM Pro-Liturgy (Last Sunday of the Month).  A Coffee Social is held on the first Sunday of every month immediately following Divine Liturgy.
Sunday Morning

Vespers on the eve of Major Feasts rotates between St. Mary’s, Ss. Peter & Paul, Boswell & Ss. Peter & Paul, Pine Hill.  Please call in advance for the schedule.
Eves of Great Feasts

9:00 AM Divine Liturgy.
Mornings of Great Feasts

Visitors are kindly asked to call ahead, or e-mail Fr. Elijah, for dates and times of all other services.
[Will appear after all other details]

Parish Background

The history of St. Mary’s traces its origin back to 1917. Many Slavic immigrants had made their way to America and found work in the coalmines of Pennsylvania. Situated in the Laurel Highlands, and within the bituminous coal fields of Western Pennsylvania, Central City served as a junction for the railroad lines to Johnstown.  The Reitz Coal Company, which operated many mines in the area and employed many of the faithful of St. Mary’s, built company homes, and donated land for an Orthodox Church and cemetery in Shade Township.
There was a strong presence of Central & Eastern Europeans in the northern part of the county, and churches in Pine Hill (Berlin), Boswell, and Jerome were established.  Father John Komar from Pine Hill began serving Divine Liturgies at nearby Cairnbrook Hall. A brotherhood was formed and on July 5, 1918, the articles of incorporation for St. Mary’s (in the name of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Central City, PA Trustees) were recorded in the Somerset County Courthouse. 

In 1919, Rev. John Kudrikoff was appointed as the pastor of the church and under his supervision, St. Mary’s Church was constructed for an approximate total of $5,000 and subsequently consecrated. 

With mine closures south of Central City, many of the faithful (in Pine Hill, particularly) relocated for work in the auto industry, or moved to the Central City area to work in the mines.  The church experienced rapid growth throughout the 1920’s as the mines continued operating. The Great Depression brought with it difficult times, but thankfully many men still had employment.  The church maintained its vital presence in the community. 

In the first years since its founding, the church went through many changes, including 15 priestly assignments in the first 19 years. At that time, it was common for priests to rotate about the country. Many stayed only for a year or two before moving elsewhere.  In 1936, the Rev. George S. Barany took over pastoral duties for St. Mary’s. Under his supervision, he brought consistency to the people, guiding the parish for nearly 16 full years.  During this pastorate, World War II affected the community, and many men of the parish served in combat. 

From its humble beginnings, St. Mary’s was consistently under fire from other denominations as not housing a “legitimate” faith. Many outsiders did not understand Orthodoxy, and how it differed from the Western churches.  Add the “Russian” element of the church, and our people were treated Communist sympathizers.

From the mid-50’s to 1970, Father George Yankevich led the church. A horrible fire occurred in 1961, and Father George went house to house, collecting donations for the restoration of the iconostasis (which was completely destroyed).  Many of the icons are marked with the names of those who responded for the beautification of the Lord’s temple.

In 1971, the Very Reverend John W. Govrusik, took over on a “temporary” basis so the people could have Holy Paschal services.  Taking a church census, and assessing the needs of the church, Father John decided to stay.  Under his direction, church membership increased significantly.  Also, services were gradually switched from Old Slavonic to English, the downstairs church hall and kitchen remodeled, the rectory remodeled, and the church treasury was solidified. He also negotiated the purchase of the present day parking lot. 

With the retirement of Fr. John in 2012, a new rector, Fr. Elijah Bremer, was appointed to serve the faithful of Central City.  Facing the challenges common to Orthodoxy in the 21 st century, Fr. Elijah has embarked on a “hands-on” style of pastoral administration, supervising the maintenance of the three Somerset County parishes, increasing catechetical work, re-organizing the choir, and assessing the potential for community outreach.  There is no doubt that, with hard work, and in the spirit of the divinely enlightened psalmist David, “through God we shall do mightily” in Somerset County for many years to come.