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Wheeling West Virginia: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church

About Our Lady of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wheeling, West Virginia:

The first Ukrainian immigrants began arriving in Wheeling in the late 1890’s. Most of these immigrants originated from Galicia in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. They left their homeland looking for greater opportunities and freedoms.Upon their arrival they had to make many adjustments. Language of course was a problem. Most came from farm backgrounds and had to adjust to life in the city. They found employment in industry in Wheeling, mostly in the steel mills. Often the men came first and the women and children followed later.

The parishioners stood as there were no pews. The “church” was called St. Rotenin Russian Catholic. The term Russian may have come from a mistranslation and corruption of the Ukrainian terms Rus or Rusin.  At this time there were “missionaries” present from the Russian Orthodox Church making attempts to “convert” the parishioners to Orthodoxy. Their attempts were futile as the parishioners remained true to their Catholic faith and the “missionaries” eventually left Wheeling.

The parish was reorganized September 20, 1911 as St. Mary’s – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church. May 28, 1912 the Ukrainian Apostolic Exarchy was officially established by the Vatican and in 1913 Saint Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help officially became a parish.

On September 22, 1913 Father Strokyj borrowed $5,800.00 from the South Side Bank of Wheeling at five percent interest to begin construction of the church.  The first church embodied many of the features of classical Greek architecture. There were large columns leading to the church entrance. The top of the building was marked with small domes. The interior was adorned with mosaics and icons typical of the Eastern rites. The cornerstone was blessed in November of 1913. On March 31, 1925 a loan for construction of the rectory was combined with that of the church, bringing the total debt to $9,000.00.

There was damage done to the church as the result of a flood of March 1936, and also by a fire on April 19, 1937. The Great Depression added to the economic problems and the parish still owed $7,550.00 on the original loans in 1944. These loans were eventually paid off in the late 1950’s.

In 1961 the iconostasis was installed and repainting of the church was completed costing approximately $10,000.00. A complete remodeling of the rectory, interior and exterior, was begun in the late sixties and completed in the mid-seventies.

In the 1960’s it became apparent that a new church was needed. Through many fund raising efforts lasting a decade, $100,000.00 was raised to defray the $240,000.00 cost of the new church.

On November 19, 1967 the Ukrainian American Citizens Club building was purchased by the parish for $10.00. During construction of the new church it was used for worship.  The building now serves as the parish hall annex.

Construction of the new church began in the spring of 1974 and was completed in February 1975. The iconostasis and windows from the old church were saved and reinstalled in the new church.  The blessing and dedication took place October 2, 1977 with Bishop Basil Losten as celebrant.

The church mortgage as paid off June 5, 1986 (how many churches can say that?). The beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was installed on the church facade in the summer of 1986 as a gift in memory of Olga Kohut Sebulsky.

Note:  Latin-rite Catholics are free to worship in Ukrainian Catholic Churches, and they fulfill their Sunday obligation by doing so. The reverse is true as well: Ukrainian Catholics are invited to worship in a Latin-rite Church.

A rescue mission in Kyiv:

In 2022, a Pittsburgh businessman decided to mount a rescue mission to Ukraine to rescue 5 children from Kyiv. The pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Father Jason Charron, went along as an interpreter and to offer spiritual support. It grew to 36 children, 22 of them orphans, and six adults, who he rescued from Ukraine were given refuge in the Czech Republic.


Finding Our Lady of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wheeling, West Virginia:

Address:  4136 Jacob Street, Wheeling, West Virginia

Tel:  Rectory: +1 (304) 232-2168   Church Hall: +1 304-232-1777

Click here for the official website of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wheeling, West Virginia

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