History of St. Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church
A November 1985
letter drew a flurry of activity in considering Ocean County as the site
for a Ukrainian parish center. A meeting was scheduled
With confidence and faith, future lay trustee. Walter Jubanowsky and Michael Stojka, immediately formed an ad hoc committee to search for a site for St. Stephen. It was a time of escalating land prices and large parcels were becoming fewer fast. Other parishioners were encouraged to join in the search. Providence led Fr. Dubitsky to White Oak Bottom Road the day Dr. John Romillo, M.D., (a pediatrician in Toms River) had erected his new sign "For Sale 5.4 Ac."
A new Post Office Box, No. 5291 received the first envelope on April 24, 1986, containing a propitious omen - Michael Bykowsky's check of $l00. The first out-of-state letter, dated April 20, from Mr. and Mrs. John Zinsky of Scranton, Pa., also contained a donation of $100.
What would fund raising be in New Jersey without a trip to Atlantic City? Julie Biri began the first of many trips on July 9, 1986 and continued to organize these social events for the Rosarians.
On October 12, 1986 Rev. Dubitsky formally installed 32 women into the newly formed Rosary Altar Society. Elected as officers: President, Vera Glowa. Vice President, Alma Stojka; Secretary, Marie Glowa; Treasurer, Nell Jubanowsky. A Family Communion Brunch was then held in the church hall, with use of a brand new coffee urn. Walter and Nell had initiated weekly coffee hours beginning July 6th.
Tables at the Craft Fair/Flea Market at Holiday City South were rented by Dolores Salabun, to benefit St. Stephen. With the assistance of Katherine Prowe, Ukrainian Christmas ornaments and hand embroidered items were assembled and sold like 'hot cakes'. The Rosarians participate in this annual event.
The Choir "Boyan" from Ukrainian Assumption Church in Perth Amboy was invited to sing the responses to the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, November 23, 1986. A surprise luncheon was provided to warmly welcome our sister parish. Father Dubitsky, Pastor, was dubbed 'Circuit Rider Priest' as he commuted almost daily in his zeal to administer to our new parish, while maintaining his duties as pastor to the Perth Amboy parishioners.
Before the end of our first calendar year the parish
witnessed the 40th Wedding Anniversary of Methodius and Barbara Mediuch on
August 10th. Catechetical instruction was begun by Cantor Paul Makar and Mrs.
Anne Drotar to prepare First Holy Communicants of our parish family. Our sound
system wasbrought to the church every Sunday by Paul Kaciuba. An usher
committee was announced including George Stycheck, head usher, Robert Bortnyk,
Paul Kaciuba, Andrew Lukas, George Najdyszak and Dmytro Pyrih. Prior to this,
Messrs. Jubanowsky and Stojka performed this important function.
Munificent donations at 1986 year's end totalled $35,370.66, with 155 souls in regular attendance.
On February 22, 1987, congratulations were extended to our first Lay Trustees, Walter Jubanowsky and Michael Stojka, elected, in accordance with the State Laws of New Jersey regulating Catholic Church Corporations. Metropolitan Archbishop Stephen Sulyk and the Chancellor for our Archdiocese, together with Rev. Dubitsky, pastor, elected, congratulated and asked for God's blessings on them. Mr. Jubanowsky continued to serve from 1990 to 1993 along with Michael Platenyk and Omelan Romaniw. Elected in 1994 were Charles Kopcho and Peter.Hrycak.
Before our first year had been completed, donations of specific necessary items began to flow, beginning with a new set of vestments donated in memoriam by Mrs. Ann Gabriel and family.
Our Cantor, Paul Makar, Jr., was ordained a Deacon in the Ukrainian Assumption
Church on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1987. Many from St. Stephen
joined in his celebration. From the date of his ordination, Deacon Paul Makar
took part in many liturgical services, and also continued to serve as cantor.
Deacon Paul also held adult religious education classes.
The Sunday Bulletin announcement indicated that land on White Oak Bottom Road
had formally been purchased Friday, July to, 1987. A stream of
Architect John Orosz, AlA, presented his credentials with an impressive portfolio of public buildings and churches bearing his functional creative designs. Following a review of our desires, wants and needs, and a study of the current local building codes, Mr. Orosz proposed a site plan to include an all-purpose worship center with a large vestibule connecting an office-efficiency apartment with a future church. His display model brought appreciative comments when presented to our parishioners at the June 5, 1988 General Meeting.
We joyously celebrated our Second Anniversary 'Sviachene' on Sunday, April 17, 1988 at the Bayville Firehouse No. 1. It was our most successful affair to that date. Vera Glowa coordinated the Rosarians who prepared and served the bountiful banquet. Our speakers, Sr. Thomas Hrynewich, Archdiocesan Chancellor, and Prof. Alexander Lushnycky remarked that they were very pleased to be a part of this joyous celebration. The Zaphoroze Dance Ensemble of the Assumption Church in Perth Amboy entertained to the delight of everyone, and Prof. Roman Lewycky performed on the bandura. It must have been then that Charlie Kopcho decided he would chair a Third Anniversary Dinner at this location. The Choir "Boyan," also from Perth Amboy, had sung the responses to the Divine Liturgy that day.
With great anticipation our parishioners and Trustees welcomed His Excellency, Most Reverend Archbishop Stephen Sulyk as he honored our parish with the first Canonical Visit on April 23. 1989. Christine Bortnyk and Natalie Zaremba greeted His Excellency with bread and salt. Refreshments were served in the hall as our parish family became better acquainted with "The Archbishop" (as he is affectionately called), following a group photography session on the steps of St. Andrew.
Subdeacon Michael Waak was ordained to the permanent Diaconate on June 24, 1989 at the Ukrainian Assumption Church in Perth Amboy, and he assisted Rev. Dubitsky during the period of 1989-91. He began an Adult catechism and Chant Class early in 1990 in Toms River, and prepared a 'Certificate of Completion' for those who attended all classes.
Beginning December 2, 1990, each family of St. Stephen welcomed into their home
the Traveling Icon of Christ, Lover of Mankind, which was blessed by His Grace,
Metropolitan Archbishop S. Sulyk, at the end of the Millennium Year.
June of 1991 Marion P1atenyk began an exciting project for a cookbook. She asked
each parishioner for four or five of their favorite recipes of all categories.
With the assistance of Vera Gwiazda, a major production fund raiser began.
Donations were made to get it off-the-ground, and by Christmas it was available.
At our May 3rd 'Sviachene' a profit was announced of $5,202 from the First
Edition of "A Ukrainian-American Potpourri" the 2nd Edition sold out December
13, 1992 with $5,550 profit and the 3rd Edition was in print. To date, a sum of
$15,000.00 has been raised from this
Mr. Jubanowsky introduced the Buy-A-Brick Campaign at the banquet. Bronze bricks - $25.00, Silver - $50.00, Gold - S100.00 and Platinum -$500.00.A plaque will be inscribed with donors' names to be hung in the vestibuleof our worship center at a future date.
Beginning December, 1991 orders were taken in advance for kolach, walnut, poppy
seed and lekvar rolls and apple pies. Retired (?) baker Petro and Olga Hrycak
have since accepted this massive undertaking on a more regular basis.
Anticipation is the word best describing our attitude in 1993, as we watched the
contractors' equipment move onto 1344 White Oak Bottom Road. Our annual events
continued; the Christmas Eve "Prosphora' Dinner was held January 10th, with St.
Nicholas visiting the children; Lenten pyrohy sales;
The parish Center was opened on Nov. 21 1992 with a Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving, celebrated by rev. Roman Dubitsky and Deakon Paul Makar.As the pilgrims of Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts did not forget to thank Almighty God for their first bounfitul harvest in their new contry, so too the parishioners of St. Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church, Toms River thanked God very kindly on that day.
On Sunday, Dec. 12, 1993 a regular Sunday Liturgy schedule was set up: one liturgy in English and one liturgy in Ukrainian. Michael Platenyk has since served as Cantor for the English Liturgy. On January 9, 1994, Bohdan Woloshyn was named official parish Cantor. Hr. Woloshyn cantors the Ukrainian liturgy and other services as needed.
The Rosary Altar Society sponsored a parish Kitchen Shower on January 26, 1994 to help supply the miscellaneous items needed in the new kitchen. All that equipment was soon put to good use. On Feb. II, 1994 the first Pyrohy Sale was held. Under the direction of Olga and Peter Hrycak the Pyrohy Program took shape. Pyrohy, as well as baked goods, were sold during Lent. The pyrohy sales proved to be very successful: in two months a profit of $12,000.00 was realized.
Our Building Committee held its very last meeting on March 1, 1994 with the
following in attendance: Rev. Roman Dubitsky, Anne Dubas, Vera Glowa, Petro
Hrycak, Walter Jubanowsky, Jessie Kaciuba, Charles Kopcho, Michael Nowosad,
Omelan Romaniw, Michael Platenyk, and Anna Stocko. The original estimates were
compared to the overall expenses. Above and beyond the total cost of
$1,105,777.33, thus far, The Rosary Society donated $30,000.00 toward special
equipment for the kitchen. Anne Dubas had donated the sound and alarm system.
St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church of Warrington, Pa., had donated their
beautiful iconostas which adorns our chapel. The altar, tabernacle, crosses,
candles and altar linens (the beautiful handwork of Sophie Paluga) were donated
as well as miscellaneous kitchen equipment from other parishes. Also
discussed was the committment to Providence Association of Philadelphia, to
repay three mortgages totaling $500,000.00. The benefits of having an Advisory
Council to meet monthly were discussed.
This has been our history thus far. It actually is a beginning! We have not labored so, so that we may have a place to worship. No, not for us, but that our children and their chidren will propagate a cherished faith; to worship God in the way of our ancestors, since Christianity had come to Ukraine over a thousand years ago: with the culture and traditions of our forefathers; here in Ocean County, in Toms River, in St. Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Father Dubitscky frequently has reminded us that people are the Church. St.
Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church has a firm foundation due to the inspirational
leadership of our devoted pastor, Rev. Roman Dubitsky, and Associate Pastor Rev.
Augustine Molodowitz; and it is richly blessed with devoted parishioners who
inspire others and who continue to give of themselves.
Written by Jessie Kaciuba, 1994