Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Willimantic began in 1916. A two-story at 226 Valley St was converted to a house of worship and rectory for its first pastor, Rev Joseph Kurila. Fr Joseph lived on the top floor with his family while the bottom floor was converted into a chapel. On November 3, 1948, the Holy Trinity Community purchased a parcel of land on the corner of Valley Street and Mansfield Avenue on which to build a permanent church. The foundation was poured in 1950, but due to financial limitations the church was not completed and consecrated until 1958. Church membership experienced a decline in the 1980s and 1990s, but has grown again since 2000 with the active support of the UConn Orthodox Christian Fellowship.
The parish of St. Alexis was founded in 1995 in Clinton as a mission of the Orthodox Church in America. The parish was named for St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre. Originally a Carpatho-Rusyn Eastern Rite Catholic (Uniate) priest, Alexis Toth came to America in 1889 to serve at St. Mary’s Greek Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Confronted by a Roman Catholic clergy which, seeking to Americanize Catholic immigrants, was hostile to to ethnic parishes, St. Alexis and his parish entered the Russian Orthodox Church in 1892. He would be responsible for many conversions of Uniate Catholics to Orthodoxy. St. Alexis died in 1909 and was canonized in 1994 as St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre by the Orthodox Church in America. The church in Clinton, at 108 East Main Street, was constructed in 1997-1999 to plans drawn by the firm of Hibbard and Rosa, Architects of Middletown.
The original Saint Mary’s Orthodox Church in Waterbury, founded primarily by Ukrainian and Russian immigrants, was built in 1906-1908 on Crown Street. In 1968, the parish purchased 12 acres of land on North Main Street for the future site of a new church. Work began in 1972 and the cornerstone of the Crown Street church was transferred to the newly completed Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary Church in 1974. Adjacent to the church, a new rectory was built in 1975 and the new Saint Mary’s Orthodox Center in 1980-1981. Read the rest of this entry »
Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, at 54 Park Avenue in Meriden, was built in 1954-1955 and the icons were painted by Ivan Dikey in the early 1960s. Dikey was one of the only trained iconographers in America at the time. The parish was originally formed in 1911 and the first church building on Bunker Avenue, completed the following year, was later destroyed for the construction of Interstate 691.
In the 1890s, a group of Slavic immigrants, who had settled in Bridgeport, sought to leave the Greek Catholic Church (affiliated with Rome) and join the Orthodox Church in America. After meetings with Fr Alexis Toth (canonized in 1994 as St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre) and Bishop Nicholas of San Francisco, Holy Ghost Orthodox Parish was established in 1894. The church was dedicated on Palm Sunday, 1895, with Fr Toth celebrating the first Divine Liturgy. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia donated six bells to the church. They had been cast in honor of his coronation in 1896. Upon arrival in New York, the bells were held up in customs for payment of a large import duty, but a special bill was passed by Congress and signed by President McKinley allowing the bells to enter the United States duty free. The parish grew and a new church was built at 1510 E. Main St and dedicated on Palm Sunday, 1937. It was rededicated in 1981, with the sealing of the relics of St. Herman of Alaska, brought by His Grace, Bishop Gregory of Sitka, Alaska, replacing the missing relics of St. Barbara.
In 1900, Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants in Bridgeport formed the Greek Catholic St. John the Baptist Church and in 1907 purchased property for use as a church at 717 Arctic Street, near Hallet Street. Beginning in the 1920s, there was tension within the church and with the Catholic hierarchy in Rome over the issue of married priests. St. John’s defended married clergy and joined in the action of a Congress of Churches in Pittsburgh that severed all relations with the Roman Catholic Church. A new Orthodox church was thus created, called the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church. Back in Bridgeport, a group of Uniates, who remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church, sued to gain control of St. John’s church property, which they reoccupied in 1944. This Greek, or Byzantine, Catholic St. John’s Church relocated to Trumbull in 1976. The Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic St. John’s Church, now denied the property on Arctic Street, constructed a new church in 1944-1946 at 364 Mill Hill Avenue in Bridgeport. The church successfully defended against another Catholic civil suit to obtain this new property in 1947. The interior was expanded and renovated in 1956-1959.
Russian Village is a historic district, located between Route 6 and the Pomperaug River in Southbury. It was established in 1925 by a group of Russians who had fled to America after the Russian Revolution in 1917. Count Ilya Tolstoy, the son of Leo Tolstoy, discovered the area during a visit to his translator in Southbury. Siberian novelist George Grebenstchikoff then led the establishment of a community there, intended as a seasonal cultural center for Russian writers, artists, musicians and scientists. The village was named Churaevka, after a Siberian village mentioned in Grebenstchikoff‘s works. The community, established by, but not limited to, the creative intelligentsia, remained a predominantly Russian community into the 1980s. The main building in the Village is a chapel dedicated to St. Sergius. A stone building, it was designed by philosopher and painter Nicholas Roerich, financed by helicopter inventor Igor Sikorsky, and built in 1932 – 33 with labor volunteered by village residents, including Ivan Wassileff, a stone mason. The Chapel was also intended to be a memorial to the Cathedral of Our Savior in Moscow, which was destroyed by the Soviets in 1931 and has more recently been rebuilt. Since the Chapel itself is too small to contain a congregation, there is a small amphitheater with curved stone benches just outside, facing the Chapel. In 1931, the Chapel was deeded to the Roerich Museum in New York and later to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.