Our Parish History

Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church

Rt. Reverend Archpriest Alexander Androsov, Rector

306 Beech Street
Manchester, New Hampshire 03103

Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church

    The founders of the Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire from Galicia, a province in the Austro-Hungarian Empire around 1900. Though historically these people professed the Orthodox Faith, since the Brest Litovsk "Union" of 1596 they were politically coerced into submitting to and becoming united to the Roman Catholic Church. Upon settling in Manchester and finding no church of their own, yet heeding the admonitions of their loved ones left behind in Europe -- not to forget God and "to seek out the churches on which there are crosses." The new emigrants attended services at a Roman Catholic church and later were provided with a Uniate priest and facilities at a Latin cathedral. In 1905, they organized a parish of their own, built a church, and received a priest from the Uniate diocese.

    The newly appointed Uniate Bishop Soter Ortynski arrived in the country in 1907. Three men who were, perhaps, most instrumental in the return of their people to Orthodoxy were Basil Pilch, Michael Bozahara, and John Zaharko.

    The spiritual needs of the people were satisfied by the local Greek priest and the Russian Orthodox priest from Boston. Meanwhile a number of Orthodox emigrants from Russia had settled in the vicinity and they banded together with the Galicians to organize, in 1915, the present parish. On April 11, 1915 the Reverend Father Jacob Grigorieff of Boston was invited to celebrate Divine Liturgy at the local Greek church and to preside at the first meeting of the parish. The gathering, which was composed of thirty-eight married and sixty-six single persons, chose two delegates, Basil Golej and Michael Bozahara, to go to New York City to petition the Archbishop to receive the newly-organized parish into his jurisdiction and appoint them a pastor. The following persons were chosen for the first parish committee: President, the Pastor; Vice President, Michael Bozahara; Treasurer, Michael Oleniak; Secretary, Joseph Murdyk; Assistant Secretary, Alexander Perich; Collectors, Basil Karsmarski and Adam Woroniak.

    Several days later, Father Peter Solovey was appointed pastor of the parish and services were celebrated at the Greek church. Meanwhile the present site of the church was acquired and the building was completed in the spring of 1916, at the cost of approximately ,000. The edifice was dedicated October 29, 1916 by The Most Reverend Archbishop Eudokim during the pastorate of Father Michael Sotak, the parish's second pastor.

    The early priests served to lay a foundation for those who followed. It was not until August, 1921 that a permanent pastor was appointed. Father Joseph Banit was well liked and, in the course of his tenure, much progress was made with the parish. It was also during this period that the parish, in connection with the Archdiocese as a whole, became severed canonically from its primatal see, the Patriarchate of Moscow, and was placed in a position of schism in regard to the Universal Church.

    From 1930 to December, 1932 when Hegumen (later Archimandrite) Theodosius Kulchitsky was appointed rector, the parish was without a spiritual leader. However, in the interim, and especially during the holy day seasons, the parish's needs were taken care of by clergymen sent from the diocesian chancellery or by a priest from Lawrence, Massachusetts. Archpriest Michael Illinsky, the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in America, resided in Manchester for several weeks during the Paschal season of 1932.

    It was during Father Theodosius; pastorate that a sisterhood and young people's society were organized. A rectory was erected on the parish property also. The parish did own a home for the parish priest early in its history. However, it was sold in the fall of 1922 for economic reasons. The rectory was built in the fall of 1933 adjacent to the church with the assistance of several parishioners at a cost of ,732.

    Father Theodosius left in January, 1936. The decision of the parish was voted at various meetings early that year to remain without a local pastor. Instead, the parish asked the rector of the Church of St. John Baptist of Lawrence to be spiritual overseer of the Manchester parish. On January 2, 1937, Father Basil Kostyshak arrived in Manchester and remained throughout the war years. His pastorate was marked by the upsurge in marriages and baptisms. He was replaced by Archpriest Leo Chumak in September, 1946. The parish voted on August 29, 1948 to reenter the lawful jurisdiction of the canonical prelate of the Church in this country.

    The Reverend Father David Abramtsov was appointed on March 22, 1949 to the parish by His Eminence, Archbishop Macarius and a new era was entered by the parish. Temporary pastors later followed, and included the following: Father John Davidoff, Father T. S. Turchenko, and Father Michael Illinsky. The Parish was also served by Father P. Marchenko and Father Peter Dubrovsky from Lawrence.

    In 1963, Priest Alexander Kobashar became pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church and remained here until his retirement. During these many years, several physical changes have taken place, new pews, new furnaces for both the church and rectory, new siding on both buildings, new furniture, remodeling, new appliances, etc. In 1987, congregational singing was introduced (in English) for the first time. This has had a positive effect on attendance. New people, by transfer and by conversion, have increased regular attendance.

    Since Fr. Alexander Kobashar's retirement in 2003, the parish has been under the spiritual leadership of Archpriest Father Alexander Androsov. The parish continues to see physical improvements to the church building, such as new hardwood flooring, new ceiling icons, air conditioning, a new electrical system, and a closed circuit TV system. The parish also performs continued improvements to the parish rectory. More importantly, reception of the Holy Sacraments is steadily increasing. Choral singing was reintroduced in 2004, with much enthusiasm and success. A parish newsletter was started in the July of 2006, coinciding with the parish altar feast of Ss. Peter and Paul. Parish attendence continues to grow, both from the local American population and Russian emmigrants.

The parish is very grateful to the number of volunteers that participate in all her activities.

Of course, none of this would happen without God's great love and mercy for us.
Glory to God for all things!

Former pastors of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
Reverend Fathers
Peter Solovey Michael Sotak John Semanitsky
Michael Danilchik Basil Golinsky Alexis Dankevich
Nicholas Podlusky Joseph Banit Theodosius Kulchitsky
Basil Kostychak Leo Chumak David Abramtsov
Alexander Kobashar    

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