Transfig congregation got its start in Excelsior in 1884
Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church, a key institution in Shamokin for more than a century, was inadvertently missed in the church section in the Shamokin 150th anniversary sesquicentennial keepsake booklet produced by The News-Item and the 150th Anniversary Committee. The News-Item apologizes for the oversight and offers this synopsis similar to those provided for other city churches in the booklet.
Transfiguration of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church was born from the early pioneers of Ukrainian descent who knew that they needed God to help them survive in a new land. Early church members would gather in Excelsior when the Shenandoah priest was able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, and the Transfiguration parish traces its beginning to the devout group of Ukrainians who worshipped in the Whitney School in Excelsior in December 1884.
As the number of immigrants increased, a permanent church building was needed. The Brotherhood of SS Cyril and Methodius assumed the responsibility of erecting a church to conform to the Greek Catholic tradition of worship. This first church, dedicated in 1889, was located in the Fifth Ward of Shamokin, bounded by Pine, Pearl and Vine streets. As the parish community continued to grow, the current church was constructed on Shamokin Street, and was consecrated in 1905.
The church celebrated its 125th anniversary in a ceremony at the church on April 25, 2010. A Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the Most Rev. Stefan Soroka, metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The liturgy was concelebrated with several area priests, and the responses were sung by a combined deanery choir. Members of the Knights of Columbus formed an honor guard, and men of the Holy Name Society seated the congregation and later directed them to communion.
At the conclusion of the anniversary liturgy, Soroka blessed and dedicated a 125th anniversary icon, written by artist Vincent Chesney. A reception and dinner followed at Masser's Banquet Hall in Paxinos, attended by more than 250 parishioners and guests. The main address was given by the Rev. Mark Fesniak, former pastor of Transfiguration Church, who detailed the rich history of the parish, noting the cultural influences of the Ukrainian people, as well as the many traditions that are unique to the Byzantine Rite.
Parish reflections were offered by John Glowa, a lifelong member and benefactor of Transfiguration Parish, who presented a generous personal monetary anniversary gift. A tribute to the many volunteers and friends of the parish was given by Joanna (Chowka) Wolfe.
The Rev. Ruslan Romanyuk is the current priest at Transfiguration, having served there since 2012.