Saint Peter and Saint Paul Ukrainian Greek
105 Clifton Avenue, Ansonia, CT U.S.A. 06401
The founders of St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ansonia, CT were immigrants who arrived in Ansonia and in other communities of the Naugatuck Valley during the 1880’s and 1890’s. Most of them emigrated from parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which consisted of Lemkivshchyna (extreme western part of Ukraine), Carpatho-Ukraine, Galicia, and other western regions of Ukraine - all what is now Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, and Romania. They were Ukrainian Catholics as well as Slovak Catholics of the Byzantine (Greek) Rite, who succeeded in establishing one of the first parishes of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the U.S.A.
On March 18, 1897, the parish was formerly established in Ansonia, Connecticut. The cornerstone for the first church was laid on May 9, 1897 at 9 May Street in Ansonia. On December 31, 1897, Reverend Father Anthony Bonchevsky arrived in Ansonia from the Diocese of Peremyshl in Galicia to become the church’s first resident pastor. The dedication ceremony of the completed church was held on July 24, 1898.
On August 6, 1910, the congregation purchased land at Clifton Avenue, along Short Street and Howard Avenue, as the site of a new church. A contract was signed with the architectural firm of Johnson and Burns, Inc. of Hartford, to complete the blueprints for the new church based on the plans that the parish had received from an European architect they had selected in Lviv, Halychyna.
The construction work, which was to end in a beautiful house of worship, began in April 1915 after a contract was awarded to the Eastern Engineering and Construction Company of Derby, CT. Outside the plans called for walls of sturdy yet pleasing yellow brick. Red tiles
covered the roof and copper covered the domes, as if to reflect back to
God the beauty of his sunshine. Inside, pews of oak were installed and the walls were covered with Numidian style marble whose exquisite tracery could easily be symbolic of the mystery and eternity of God. During September 1916, Theodore Hladky, a noted artist from Halychyna, Galicia, decorated the domes, employing the true Byzantine style. Finally an iconostas was built with its doors and tiers of icons to separate the bema, the area containing the altar, from the nave.
In 1965 the newly constructed St. Peter and St. Paul Parochial School opened for classes with Reverend John Squiller as principal. In 1981 the City of Ansonia, as well as the Parish of St. Peter and St. Paul, gave special honor and recognition to Archpriest Reverend Basil Lar for his years of dedicated service to the church and to the community by renaming Short Street as Father Lar Drive. In 1997 the Parish of St. Peter and St. Paul celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Pontifical Divine Liturgy officiated by His Excellency, Bishop Basil H. Losten, a centennial banquet-concert-dance, and a beautiful commemorative yearbook depicting many happy years of prayer and Christian life.
Over the years the church building has received several upgrades. Among the improvements were the construction of a new ramp entrance in 1981, the major restoration project during 1987-1989, the enhancement of the Sanctuary with the new Altar in 1996, the restoration of the iconostas in 2004, and the installation of air condition in 2005.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” said the poet John Keats, and his words could easily apply to the physical aspects of the basilica style St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite, a City of Ansonia landmark since 1915.