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Further down the block, Mary Yasenchak, 80, lives next door to her widowed daughter, Mary Ann Mehm. Yasenchak married into the church, while her daughter married out of it only to return after losing her husband in 1996. Mehm is speaking, however, of her mother’s generation. When conversation turns to feast day picnics and piroghi, halupki (stuffed cabbage) and other traditional foods, the two women drift into the kitchen.“It was like I came home because everyone I knew growing up was still there. There spread across the table are homemade bread, kielbasa with horseradish and sweets – cookies and coffee cake, a congenial ending to a house blessing.
The 18th-century discovery of the hard coal – formed over 250 million years ago – later sparked a mining frenzy that would fuel the industrialization of the United States, spur revolutions in technology and create boom towns across the region.
Desperate for workers, mining companies scoured Central and Eastern Europe for cheap labor, recruiting many agricultural workers eager to escape the turmoil and poverty of their homeland.
Founded in 1911 to serve the then-growing Russian Orthodox community, St. To help keep his aging congregation involved, Father Michael Slovesko, called from semiretirement five years ago, is busy overseeing a $300,000 project to install restrooms, as well as an elevator, inside the church.
John the Baptist Church is just two blocks from St. Those immigrant Russians were, in fact, from the Carpathian Mountains and Galicia, in what is now Ukraine. The elevator, he says, will enable wheelchair-bound parishioners to attend church again; it will also make it easier to bring caskets in for funerals.
But as the country’s energy consumption shifted toward cleaner fossil fuels and the once massive deposits of coal became depleted, the mines began to close.