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Parish History

The first Ukrainian settlers in Terryville were not immigrants directly from Europe, but rather those who moved here from central Pennsylvania. The first known families settled in this area in 1895. United by the same bond of faith, language, and customs these families immediately made plans to organize and establish their own church in order to preserve their Eastern Catholic traditions and customs. They formed a voluntary association known as the Rus Ruthenian Brotherhood of St. Michael the Archangel in 1902 and Greek Catholic Congregation. They had a dream of preserving their Eastern Catholic traditions and customs and to build a church of their own.

In 1903, a plot of land on what is now Kearney Street in Terryville was purchased to be used as a cemetery. The cemetery was deeded to the Archangel St. Michael Ruthenian Greek Catholic Congregation.

From 1896 to 1904, the Ukrainian families either traveled to New Britain or Ansonia for church services. In 1904, a committee was formed to make preparations to build their own church in Terryville. Permission was obtained for Liturgy to be held in Main Street School and this became the center for Ukrainian life for about 6 years. Father Roman Zalitach was one of the first priests to come from New Britain to celebrate Liturgy in Terryville.

In March of 1905, three plots of land were purchased on Allen Street and earmarked as the future home of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Terryville. In 1907, a representative group made an appointment with the newly appointed bishop for Ukrainian in the United States, Most Reverend Soter Ortynsky, to seek permission to build a church. Bishop Ortynsky granted permission and a committee was formed to develop plans and construct a church. The men and women of the small congregation did much of the groundwork for the church.

On July 4, 1910, the cornerstone for the church was blessed and St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church was completed. In 1912, a wood and coal steam boiler was purchased and installed; a 1500-pound bell was purchased, blessed, and later installed in the bell tower.

The interior of the church is typically structured in the Byzantine tradition and boasts a beautiful iconastas that was hand carved and installed in 1917. Later, painted icons and wall murals were added. It was at this time that a resident pastor came to care for the souls of this new congregation and church. Most Reverend Constantine Bohachevsky assigned the Reverend Waldimir Dowhovich as the first pastor in 1927. No rectory was yet available at the time, so Fr. Dowhovich lived in the home of a parishoner. A new pastor was appointed in 1929 and an apartment on Allen Street became the first rectory. Then in 1935, a new rectory was built on a lot next to the church and finally the resident priests had their own house to live in. The parishoners themselves did much of the work on the rectory construction.

A sacristy was added to the north side of the church in 1944 and in 1946 a house on the south side of the church was purchased to house nuns from the Order of St. Basil the Great, who would run a 6-week summer school. In 1950, the parish voted to adopt the Gregorian Liturgical calendar.

Within the last 25 years, the interior of the church has undergone several renovations to help preserve the beautiful hand-painted icons and wall paintings by the artist Hladky, as well as the hand-carved iconastas by the wood carver Surma. In early 2009, the church bell tower was restructured and the bell was refurbished back to its original manual rope-pull operation. Later that year, the church front entry doors were refinished back to their original stain & varnish appearance.

Reverend Fathers in the service of St. Michael's parish from 1910 to the present have been: R. Zalitach, S. Waschyshyn, B. Zacherkony, R. Walinech, V. Kozoriz, D. Kulmatysky, W. Dowhovich, A. Bernatsky, M. Skrotsky, A. Cherepaniak, W. Tytar, J. Dzendzera, M. Prodan, N. Romanovich, I. Pelensky, P. Guthrie, J. Zabawa, J. Shaloka, M. Proczyk, G. Lukaczyk, R. Smolley, I. Midzyak, P. Luniw

St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church spiritually serves a wide area since it is the only church of the Byzantine Rite in Litchfield County. Parishoners come to worship from Wolcott, Waterbury, Watertown, Torrington, Thomaston, Terryville, Southington, Plainville, Harwinton, and Bristol.