of the Church
In 1950, a group of Ukrainian immigrants who settled
in the Utica, NY area met with Rev. Savyn Durbak and decided to
form a new parish. A committee was formed and in June 1951 permission
was received from the Bishop Ordinary allowing for the incorporation
of the parish to be named St. Volodymyr the Great Ukrainian Church.
The church’s first pastor was Rev. Ivan Prokopovych.
Services were initially held at St. George’s Lithuanian Catholic
Church, however, the parishioners wished for their own sanctuary
in which to pray. In 1951, the new parish purchased the former St.
George’s Episcopal Church on State Street for their new home.
The building was in a sorry state of repair. After extensive restorations
and beautification by the parishioners themselves, the 1st Divine
Liturgy was performed on Easter Sunday 1952.
In May of 1952, Rev. Bohdan Smyk was installed as
pastor beginning a 42-year tenure as our church’s spiritual
leader. Father Smyk was a visionary as well as a keen businessman
who oversaw and promoted a period of much growth in our church’s
population and facilities. He and his wife Volodomyra were beloved
by our parishioners and the community.
In 1953, a large tract of land was purchased to serve
as a cemetery as well as a parish park. With the growth in the number
of parishioners, it was obvious that the church facilities would
no longer serve the parish’s needs, so a building fund was
instituted in 1957.
The first building constructed was the School-Auditorium.
Ground was broken in April 1964 and the building blessed in May
1965. This building provided space for various parish functions
and programs as well as classroom facilities for our School of Ukrainian
Knowledge and Religious Studies. The Auditorium acted as a site
for all parish activities and a place for our parish bonds to strengthen.
It also served as a base for fund raising activities to help us
enlarge our building fund in anticipation of further growth. It
was through fund raising activities such as varenyky sales, bingo
games and our yearly Ukrainian festival along with the generous
donations of our parishioners that our building fund was able to
increase allowing for continued expansion of our facilities.
In 1974, a beautiful Victorian building on Genesee
St. was purchased to serve as our new parish home. Additional land
purchase around the auditorium allowed for parking space expansion.
Included in this land purchase was the site on 4 Cottage Place where
we would fulfill our goal of building our new church. Our dream
became a reality in October 1976 when ground was broken for our
The church was blessed in July 1978 and became our
new home. Over the next few years, beautification of the sanctuary
began mostly funded through the generous donations of our parish
organizations, our parishioners, and friends. The iconostas was
installed in May 1982 and the stained glass windows in May 1983.
Unfortunately, the now Very Reverend Canon Smyk was unable to witness
the fulfillment of his dream. He fell asleep in the Lord in October
1994 before the completion of the church’s beautification.
This was a very difficult time for our parish as the loss of such
an iconic figure is hard to deal with.
In November 1994, Rev. Michael Bundz was installed
as our new pastor. Understanding the importance of Father Smyk’s
dream, he oversaw the completion of the church’s beautification
in time for the celebration of our church’s 50th anniversary
in 2000. During Father Bundz’s tenure he has overseen the
renovation of our parish home and rental property on Mandeville
St. as well as the Carriage House behind the church. He reinstated
weekly varenyky sales and our yearly festival, thus reinvigorating
our community spirit. He was also instrumental in the construction
of the new Cemetery Utility Building/Chapel which was completed
and blessed by Bishop Paul Chomnycky in July 2008.
The history of our parish is a fruitful one born of
hard work and the willingness to bring a dream to reality. Our pastors,
church leadership, and especially our parishioners deserve much
praise for their efforts. It is our responsibility to maintain and
build on that which those before us have worked so hard to attain.