PITTSTON — The pope may be visiting Philadelphia, but Pittston will receive religious visitors as well.
The Eastern Pa. Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Socitey will make a stop at St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church on Saturday, Oct. 3.
The society is based on the Carpatho-Rusyn ethnicity, which descended from a minority of Ruthenians who did not adopt the use of the Ethnonym “Ukranian” in the early 20th century. The Carpatho-Rusyn Society is an American non-profit organization founded in 1994 in Pittsburgh with over 1,700 members worldwide.
St. Michael’s Church member and Pittston native John Dziak, 70, is of the Carpatho-Rusyn ethnicity and coordinated the society’s visit to Pittston.
“I’ve worked with them for half a dozen years,” said Dziak. “I’m Carpatho-Rusyn myself and that’s how we got involved. They knew me and I knew them and they heard about our 100th anniversary and they called me. I kind of spearheaded it with the church and got totally involved.”
Sharon Jarrow, president of the Eastern Pa. chapter said there are 11 societies all over the country, including societies in Arizona, Washington, D.C. and the New England area.
She said its overall purpose is to promote the culture and teach people about the Carpatho-Rusyn background.
“What I hope to do (at St. Michael’s) is enlighten the people about their heritage and who are the Carpatho-Rusyns,” Jarrow said. “There is a lot of confusion, because people think we’re Russian or Ukranian, but there is a distinct culture called Rusyn. There are so many questions as to who is this, who is that and that’s what we’re helping people with — putting together the puzzle of their family history.”
Speakers at the St. Michael’s presentation include Dr. Michelle Parvenskiy who will talk about the origins of the Carpatho-Rusyn ethnicity; Richard Custer, a founding member of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and Dr. Peter Yasenchak who will speak about the coal field and how Carpatho-Rusyns came to Pittston for the coal mining.
Dziak said St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church is filled with people of the Carpatho-Rusyn ethnicity and this is a great way for them to learn more about their background.
“A lot of people don’t even know that they have a Carpatho-Rusyn background,” said Dziak. “If they got labeled from the beginning as having a Polish background, because Carpatho-Rusyns were in Poland for a period of time, then they were believed to be Polish. Same with those from Austria, Hungary and the Urkaine.”
Jarrow encourages anyone, Carpatho-Rusyn or not, to attend the presentation. Another presentation will be held Saturday, Oct. 24 at King’s College.
“I would hope a lot of people turn out and if they’re Carpatho-Rusyn or not, it’s interesting to learn about their culture or another person’s culture,” she said.