By 1890, our pioneering founders succeeded in purchasing the former Dundee Evangelical Mission Chapel on the corner of First and Bergen Streets, This they rebuilt and entrusted to the protection of the Holy Archangel Michael. Thus, under the leadership of its first pastor, the Rev. Nicephor Chanath, the second Catholic Church in Passaic came into existence. St. Michael's was born.
Father Chanath continued in his labors with the new parish until December 29, 1894 when the Rev. Eugene Szatala was directed to succeed him by Bishop Wigger of the Newark Diocese who in the absence of a Byzantine Catholic Bishop in America, was entrusted with the protection of the fledgling Byzantine Catholic parish.
Under the leadership of Father Szatala, the parish grew dramatically in number. By the time of the arrival of Rev. Nicholas Molscanyi in March 1902, the original wooden church proved too small to accommodate the 600 enrolled families. Thus, beginning in 1903, construction began on the imposing stone and brick edifice which still stands today.
The magnificence and splendor of the new church edifice was equaled only the difficulties surmounted in allowing this dream to become a reality. For example, a newspaper article dating back to 1903 reveals that certain individuals, proclaiming allegiance to certain non-catholic churches in Passaic, attempted, because of various motives, to stifle the construction of the new church by stealing a variety of building materials; bricks, mortar, chestnut, and oak planks and the like. One rather unscrupulous gentleman amassed such a collection of stolen building materials in his garage that discovery of them by police was inevitable. When this occurred, the man casually dismissed the incident and attempted to explain that it was his 7 year old daughter, not he, who was responsible for the theft.
On one occasion, also in 1903, another newspaper article revealed that the massive church towers, which dominated the First Street skyline for many years, were in danger of being permanently removed even before construction of them was complete. One of the huge towers had been toppled by a severe wind storm and concerned for public safety, the City Building Inspector threatened to “personally remove the other tower” unless both were reconstructed and reinforced.
After having gathered a congregation, purchased a Church of their own, petitioned for a pastor to guide them, and constructed, with great difficultly, a new, more accommodating church edifice, the parish looked back, with a well deserved sense of accomplishments of the past few years and relaxed to joyfully celebrate, on May 5, 1905, the 15 th Anniversary of their founding.
In February, 1906, the Bishop of Newark appointed the Rev. Irenaus Janotzky to succeed Fr. Molscanyi. The Pastorate of Fr. Janitzky, who organized St. Michael's Rosary Society in October, 1909, continued until September, 1915, when the Rev. Valentine Balogh was appointed to succeed him by Bishop Soter Ortindky, the first Byzantine Catholic Bishop in the United States. Fr. Balogh served as pastor for almost three years and was then succeeded by the Very Rev. Michael Jackovics, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who was destined to become not only the area Dean, but St. Michael's first long term resident pastor.
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