St. John the Baptist

Byzantine Catholic Church

Hawk Run, PA

Greek Catholics from the Austro-Hungarian Empire of Central Europe began a great migration to the United States in the 1880s. These pioneer men and women left their homeland because of poor economic conditions. They came to the United States primarily for employment in the coal and steel industries, which required little education but much hard work.

The immigrants who came to the coal fields were most often recruited by agents of the mine owners. Thus the agents would recruit all of the young men of particular villages. Since most of the villages had just one church, it often happened that many American mine settlements were populated by people of the same faith.

In the 1890s, as Slavic immigrants came to work in the mines surrounding the Philipsburg area, the Greek Catholics gathered to organize a church and to recruit a priest from Europe. The first Greek Catholic church was organized in Osceola Mills. Within a few years, this parish affiliated with the Orthodox Church, and those who chose to remain Greek Catholic organized a parish in Chester Hill. After a few years, this parish also affiliated with the Orthodox Church. Those who chose to remain Greek Catholic met once again to plan yet another Greek Catholic church for the area.

In 1903-04, this group purchased land in Hawk Run and constructed a wooden church on a stone foundation. This church was dedicated to St. John the Baptist on July 7, 1904, the Feast Day of his birth according to the Julian calendar in use by the Greek Catholic Church at that time. This church building continues in use today.

In 1920, a floor to ceiling icon screen was installed in the church. This iconostas has been well maintained in excellent condition to the present time. Through the years, the church building has been brick-sided, while the original bell tower has undergone several renovations, including the addition of a bronze Byzantine dome and cross. The church and dome are illuminated at night and can be seen from a five-mile distance beyond Philipsburg.

The parish has a large cemetary with burials dating to 1906. The parish also has a large social hall, built in the 1930s. In the 1950s, the parish adopted the Gregorian Calendar for its liturgical services and English as its primary liturgical language. In 1950 Bishop Daniel Ivancho, at that time the head of the Greek Catholic Exarchate of Pittsburgh, officially changed the identity of our diocese and its parishes from Greek Catholic to Byzantine Catholic. This change was made in recognition of our increasing number of mixed marriages and converts, and to avoid having our church members confused with those of Greek nationality.

In 1906, St. John the Baptist parish helped to establish a sister parish, Dormition of the Mother of God, in Clarence, a town twenty-five miles northeast of Hawk Run. In 2004, St. John the Baptist parish is assisting in the establishment of yet another sister parish, this one to be located in State College, a town twenty-five miles southeast of Hawk Run. St. John the Baptist parish and its priest also assist in providing Byzantine Catholic services at the Penn State University's main campus in State College.

The next one hundred years of our parish are in the hands of the fifth and sixth generations presently being born. We pray that God will grant them a continuing knowledge and enthusiasm for the Byzantine Catholic faith, and the zeal to be evangelists for Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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CCD occurs after the Sunday Divine Liturgy during the school year.

Liturgy Schedule

Sunday Divine Liturgy 8:15 am

Hawk Run Info

Office Phone: (814)342-4315
Office Fax: (814)342-3254

Mailing Address:
24 Fulton Street
P.O. Box 2
Hawk Run, PA 16840


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Pastoral Team

Deacon Jack Custaney
Deacon Jack Custaney

Phone: (814)342-5266

Deacon Dennis Prestash
Deacon Dennis Prestash

Phone: (814)342-0689

Fr. James Ragan
Fr. James Ragan

Phone: (724)388-6176