Diocese: Diocese of the Midwest
Deanery: Kansas City Deanery
416 Ewing Ave
Madison, Illinois 62060-1456
Nativity of the Virgin Church in Madison, IL is approximately 5 miles north east of St Louis, MO.
From St Louis, MO
Travel north on I-55 or east on I-70 to east Illinois Rt 203 (north) to Granite City. Turn left on the 4th St (approx. 2.6 miles). Travel 3 blocks or at the third stop sign make a right onto Ewing Ave (north). Church is on the right at the next corner (418 Ewing Ave).
Schedule of Services
5:00 PM Great Vespers, Confessions.
8:30 AM Orthodox Education.
9:00 AM Hours; 9:30 AM Divine Liturgy, Fellowship Hour.
7:00 PM Great Vespers with Litiya or 6:00 PM Vesperal Liturgy (call for information about services).
Eves of Great Feasts
9:30 AM Festal Divine Liturgy.
Mornings of Great Feasts
6:00 PM Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.
Wednesday Evenings in Great Lent
Private Confessions are heard after Great Vespers. During the week, or before services, Confessions are heard by appointment.
For a complete list of upcoming services, please visit the Monthly Calendar on the parish website. Please call the Rectory at 618-451-9995 to discuss any needs to arrange baptisms, marriages, funerals, memorial services, etc.
Long before the year 1900, the seeds of the Orthodox faith were planted in the city of Madison, Illinois, by Carpatho-Russian Immigrants.
In 1899, Fr Stepanov of Cleveland, OH was the first missionary priest sent to Madison. He heard confessions and celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the home of M/M Sawchuk, 1017 Madison Ave.
On February 16, 1902, Archbishop Tikhon, Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in America, granted Mr Meftody Rygdig permission to collect funds for the purpose of building an Orthodox Church edifice in the City of Madison, IL. A wooden structure was erected on Ewing Ave, remaining on this site, with some modifications to the physical structure, until 1964 when construction of a new Church edifice was begun.
The parishioners hold in fond memory the late Patriarch (now Saint) Tikhon of Moscow. When he was Archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America, he visited Madison and donated a Holy Gospel, the Church Bell, and gave a monetary donation toward the building expenses. Financial assistance was also received from the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Mutual Aid Society in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The original members of the Society served as founding members of the Church. Included in this group were the late Meftody Rygdig, Luke Purdes, and Nicholas Fecurka.
The first Church building of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary parish in Madison, IL was blessed by God at the hands of Fr (now Saint) John Kochuroff, pastor of the Chicago parish and builder of the present Cathedral in Chicago. The blessing was performed according to the lesser rite of consecration of a church edifice. He donated an old processional Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan which is found today in the northeast corner of the church nave. On the reverse-side of this icon is the following inscription: “In blessing to the Madison Parish from the Priest John Kochuroff”. This eminent pastor returned to his homeland and in the beginning of the Russian Revolution was brutally martyred. Before the blessing of the church, an Iconostasis was built by the late Constantine Rygdig and D Waszinsky in Mr Rygdig’s dining room. In 1903, Madison, and the surrounding areas, was flooded by five feet of water and the church building was moved approximately one foot.
The parish has its own cemetary, eleven acres in size, located on Highway 157 at the junction of Interstate 270, and is commonly called Sunset Hill. This lot was purchased in 1924 and dedicated on May 30, 1925 (Memorial Day) by His Eminence Archbishop Leonty. Previously, the parish had a small cemetary near Wood River, IL. However, due to the distance from the Church and the added appeal of Sunset Hill, this cemetary was sold and the present one purchased.
The parish was ministered by missionary priests in its early years, and beginning with 1905, permanent priests were assigned, numbering over 20. Due to the constant expansion of the Orthodox Catholic Faith in the United States, many missionary priests served our parish. The parish has had many devoted priests laboring in the Vineyard of Christ here in Madison. They served to the best of their talents and abilities.
As early as 1950, the Rt Rev Prokopy Powers envisioned the need for the use of the English language in the Divine Services of the Orthodox Church in America. He was instrumental in introducing this practice into our parish worship services in 1952. His foresight enabled the parish to attain its present solidarity and visibility, utilizing English as our official language.
Being a growing community and realizing the need to expand, the parish activated a building program under Heiromonk Rev Fr Theodosius (Lazor). After assessing the situation, it was decided to build on the present property and purchase additional adjoining property on which to erect a new church edifice. On our 62nd Anniversary, September 23, 1962, ground was broken to begin construction of our new church. However, it was not until Pentecost Sunday, June 21, 1964, that the ground was broken to begin actual construction. The architect, general contractor, and other civic dignitaries were also present at the ceremonies.
On the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 14, 1965, the parish met in the old church for the last service, a service of Thanksgiving (Molieben). Then as the faithful came to receive the blessings of the parish priest, they were given an article to carry to the new church. After the entrance prayers, the ribbon was cut, the door unlocked, and the triumphal entry was made. After a small service of blessing, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the new church. Many people rejoiced by partaking of the Sacrament of Holy Communion that day. The newly re-elected officers of the parish council were installed. A tea was served in honor of the occasion.
On Sunday, June 6, 1965, the Holy Altar was consecrated and the Church dedicated and anointed with Holy Chrism by His Eminence Archbishop John of Chicago. Holy relics of St John the Russian, New Confessor, were placed in the new marble Altar. The late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann (+ Memory Eternal), former Dean of St Vladimir’s Ortodox Theological Seminary, was the guest speaker at the Consecration Banquet.
On Sunday, September 10, 1972, seven years after the consecration of our church, the faithful again gathered to celebrate “the burning of the Church Mortgage” and the “Ground-breaking Service” for the proposed new rectory. This completed another milestone in the history of the parish.
The parish was also blessed with the joy of having had one of its former pastors (Heiromonk Theodosius Lazor) consecrated Bishop of Sitka and Alaska. Later he accepted transfer to become Bishop of Pittsburgh and West Virginia. And now he is Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. Formerly Father Theodosius was the Parish Rector of the community at its time of planning, constructing and consecrating our “new” Church building, and now His Beatitude Theosoisus is Archbishop of Washington, DC and Metropolitan of All America and Canada (territorally including South America and Mexico).
Since the consecration of our new church edifice, we have been blessed to have a candidate ordained to Holy Priesthood at its Altar. Fr Theodore Fryntzko, now Archimandrite Innocent, a native son of Madison and our parish, answered the call to serve the Holy Orthodox Church and was ordained by His Eminence Archbishop John of Chicago & Minneapolis, on April 7, 1967. He served parishes in Chicago, Niagara Falls (NY), Sioux City (IA), and served in the Diocese of Alaska since 1970 in Sitka and Juneau. Fr Innocent was eventually elevated to Archimandrite and is now serving as Chaplain of St Herman Seminary, Kodiak, AK.
The new parish rectory was completed in time to be blessed by His Eminence, Archbishop John, during his visit with us to commemorate the feast of our patron (The Nativity of the Theotokos) on September 9, 1973. In the spring of 1988, the rectory mortgage was retired and a “Rectory Mortgage Burning Luncheon” was held at the Madison Recreational Center on Sunday, October 2, 1988, to express another milestone in the history of the parish.
Once again our parish was blessed in a special way as it celebrated the 75th Anniversary (Diamond Jubilee). His Eminence, Archbishop John of Chicago and Minneapolis, and His Grace, Bishop Theodosius of Pittsburgh and West Virginia con-celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with clergy of the St Louis Deanery of the Orthodox Church in America. During this Divine Liturgy, Deacon Joseph Hirsch of Kansas City was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Archbishop John. At the close of this Liturgy His Eminence stressed the unique significance of the particular ordination that had just taken place. He pointed out that the newly ordained Fr Hirsch, a former Anglican priest, along with his wife, two children, and thirty other souls, had just been received into the Orthodox faith from the Anglican Church where doctrinal changes in recent years forced them to look to the true Apostolic Church of Christ for salvation. This group of Orthodox Christians comprises a parish that has no ethnic roots (i.e. Russian, Greek, Serbian, etc) that characterizes all of the Orthodox parishes founded in America. The mission of the Orthodox Church in America is to convert America to Orthodoxy. It has been our humble priviledge to be a part of the beginning of this progress.
In addition to the above-mentioned ordinations, one of our parishioners, R Thomas George, was ordained in his home parish (St Theodore of Tarsus, Kansas City, MO), and assigned to our parish. Later he was shared with and then transferred to serve the community of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary Church in Desloge, MO. There he helped to bring a regularity of services and education to the community, whoch would eventually lead to a priest being assigned to the parish in October 1986—the first priest in 35 years, Just prior to this assignment, Deacon Thomas moved to New York and the Diocese of New York/New Jersey.
Two other parishioners of note devoted their life to the Church. Mary Ann Sporcic graduated from St Vladimir’s Seminary with a specialization in Liturgical Music and since has help positions of Choir Director at St Mary’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, and Holy Trinity Church, New Britain, CT, as well as serve on the Liturgical Music of the OCA. Margaret Anne Greene moved to Alaska to serve as secretary of St Herman’s Seminary, Kodiak, where she met and married the Liturgics Instructor, John Zabinko. Since then, John was ordained to the priesthood and has served parishes in Gary, IN and currently in Kodiak, AK.
As Baptism marks the beginning of our “life in Christ”, we all were introduced to a Mission. Our goal is to call others to become and for us to be full participants, sharing in God’s Kingdom both here and now, and that which is to come. Our community’s history does indicate that our parish family is doing just that. We are called, also, to a oneness—unity in Him and through Him with one another, which we are struggling to attain and retain at times. We cannot stop now to look back on our accomplishments but to look forward to all that we have yet to do for the “glory of God”. We must remember today that our humble effots were yesterday’s future, and are tomorrow’s past. We can affect the ongoing history of our salvation by what we accomplish in His name each day! So we must “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and inspired songs. Sing praises to the Lord with all your hearts” (Eph 5:19). And to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is is heaven” (Matt 5:16). Amen!