Diocese: Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania
Deanery: Altoona-Johnstown Deanery
PO Box 204
Vintondale, Pennsylvania 15961-0204
Portage, PA 15946
Ss Peter and Paul is located off Rt 22 midway between Blairsville and Ebensburgh, and northwest of Conemaugh on the rural service roads.
From Rt 22
Go to the Vintondale Sign (at the top of Chickaree Mountain, near the Sheepskin Shop). If you are traveling east from Blairsville, make a left; if you are traveling west from Ebensburg, turn right. Travel 3 miles, bearing right down Chickaree Mountain. In the town at the bottom of the mountain, at the “Y” bear left. Make the first left onto Second St, and follow Second St to the top. Turn right onto Lovell; the church is on the corner of Lovell and Third.
From Rt 422
Go to Rt 271 south in Belsano. If you are traveling west from Ebensburg, turn left; if you are traveling right from Indiana, turn right. Pass through Twin Rocks to the Vintondale Sign and bear right onto the rural service road. Travel 3 miles to Vintondale, the road becomes Plank Rd. At the “Y”, go straight, and Plank Rd becomes Maple St. Make the first left onto Second St and follow Second St to the top. Make a right onto Lovell. The Church is at the corner of Lovell and Third.
Schedule of Services
11:30 AM Pro-Liturgy, followed by childrens bible study and coffee hour.
4:00 PM Presanctified Liturgy.
Wednesday Evenings in Great Lent
Confessions are heard one half-hour before start of Pro-Liturgy and immediately after Pro-Liturgy
Ss Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of Vintondale was first organized in Wehrum, a mining community some three miles away from present-day Vintondale, sometime between 1902 and 1904. The charter name given to the Wehrum Community was Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church. The only existing records of the Wehrum community is the October 1906 purchase, through Archbishop Tikhon, of a .45 acre tract for use as a cemetary in Buffington Township from RW and Eliza Mack. The cemetary and dedication monument dated October 6, 1906, still exist. Unfortunately, the town of Wehrum was shut down inefinitely in 1904 by the Collier Co and all miners were told to vacate the town. Most moved to Vintondale.
Through the efforts of the Rev Fr Alexis Mitropolsky of St John the Baptist Orthodox Church, Conemaugh, the Church Committee purchased Lot 11 Block J in 1907 for $1.00 from the Vintondale Colliery Company. The location of the new Church was to be on the corner of Third and Lovell Sts. The company deeded the lot to Archbishop Platon and the cornerstone was laid on November 28, 1907. The Church was completed shortly thereafter.
From the Carpathian region of the Austro-Hungarian empire, three groups of people settled to make up the Russian Orthodox Church: the group from northern Zemplin County, present day Slovakia, from the towns between Parizohuvce and Velike Poljane; the group from Mukachevo, present day western Ukraine, from the village od Velikj Luchkj; and thr group from Marmarosh County, present day south-east Slovakia.
Only local oral history retains the memory of Ss Peter and Paul in the early years. But in April 1921, with the assignment of Rev Fr Dzwonchick, a rivalry between the two cantors: Charlie Tegza from Marmorosh County and Charlie Kovach from the Mukacheve region ensued. Each side hired a lawyers to represent them in court.
According to a document from the Cambria County Equity Docket, the church officers filed for an injunction against Charles Haratsy, George Babich, and Charles Riskom supporters of Charlie Tegza from Marmarosh County. These three men, along with their families staged a sit-down strike in the church, claiming they did not like the new priest.
As Church funds were depleted and the rivalry heated, the judge ruled that all church offices held by law mwmbers were declared vacant, All church records, money, papers and property were turned over to court-appointed officers. The new officers met with the approval of Archbishop Tikhon. The make-up of the new court appointed board was a mixture of plaintiffs and defendants. But the ordeal was not over.
In the meantime, Slavic speaking evangelists from Brownsville came to Vintondale and began to conduct Bible studies. About 12 families left the Church led by Charlie Tegza, former cantor and local butcher and became known as the Russellites. In 1923 this group purchased property a few lots down from Ss Peter and Paul and began their own Religious Services. This group, mostly made up of people from Marmorosh County, was later to become the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witness located in present day Mundy’s Corner, PA. The schism at Ss Peter and Paul’s was great. However, it was only not until 1930 that the Orthodox Community in Vintondale was able to pass the crisis and begin functioning with a normal church life. To this day the Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently canvass Vintondale.
Nine priests have served the Vintondale Orthodox Community through the 80 years of her existence.
Owing to its small size, the parish has existed as a Mission for the past 30 years, sharing her priest with Colver and now in these ten last years, in Portage. As an aging community, the twenty-one adults which support the church must be lauded. In the past ten years extensive renovation and updating has taken place to improve the Church and her facilities. Currently a building project is taking place to better utilize basement storage space.
As a Mission Parish, Ss Peter and Paul is served each week with the Sunday Typica and Wednesday morning Divine Liturgy and Bible Study. It has been the Bible Study that has increased the will of the faithful to survive and prosper. Because the congregation is so small, when the faithful gather, we do so as a family or as a one room school house. Life in rural Pennsylvania does have some charm.
Services are conducted in both English and Church-Slavonic languages, and use the medium of Carpatho-Russian Congregational Chant.
As the knowledge of Scripture and the person of Jesus increases along with the rational explanations of our Holy Tradition and Orthodox way of life, Vintondale will continue to survive. and if some industruy will return to the area and bring secure jobs, the hope for the future in this little dale will make the 21st century.