Although our parish recently celebrated the 96th anniversary of its founding, our roots go as far back as to year 1888, when our ancestors began their immigration from Austria, Russia, and other European nations, and settled in the Bayonne area to begin life in the "new world." Arriving with little possessions, they each brought one thing which, to this day, affects each of our lives-their deep religious convictions and ethnic ties. These similarities bonded them into a "family" of Orthodox Christians which for over one hundred years has served them well.
As the number of immigrants into our area increased, they found that unity and dependence among themselves brought them comfort and strength, and so, in 1906 they formed their first community endeavor, St. John the Baptist Society of the Russian Brotherhood Organization. This society not only provided the immigrants with social events, but also sold life insurance policies to the members. By 1920, desiring to play an active role in the civic affairs of Bayonne, members of the St. John the Baptist Society along with other supporters, formed the Carpatho-Russian American Citizens Club. One of the main goals of the Carpathian Club at that time was to establish a church which this now growing community of immigrants could call their own. Hence, on December 22, 1922, Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church was incorporated by the Department of the State of New Jersey.
Within a month of incorporating, the church purchased a home on 27th Street, which became the first rectory, and two lots on 28th Street, where construction began on building the church. Until the church was completed, parishioners held services at the Polish National Church on Avenue E.
In September 1924, the new church was completed and the first Divine Liturgy was held. Twelve years later in 1936, with additional money saved, construction began on the current church edifice, which was built on top of the old church. The old church was converted to the present-day parish hall. In May 1938 the church construction was completed and a banquet was held to commemorate the occasion.
Of special significance within the church is the iconostas. This iconostas was once a fixture in St. Platon's Seminary, one of the first Orthodox seminaries in the United States, which closed its doors in 1923. The iconostas was prayed before by holy men such as St. Raphael of Brooklyn, St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, as well as the following hierarchs: Metropolitans Theophilus, Leonty, Ireney (all of blessed memory), Theodosius and Herman, Archbishop Peter, Bishop Abel from Poland, and most recently by Bishop Michael.
Over the past 94 years, hundreds of people have called Saints Peter and Paul their home, and we pray that, with God's blessings, hundreds more will find the same love for Christ that we and our ancestors have.
The following is a list of significant events in the history of our parish:
St. John the Baptist Society of the Russian Brotherhood Organization was formed in 1906.
The Carpatho-Russian American Citizens Club, formed in 1920, initiated steps in establishing a church.
"Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church" was incorporated on December 22, 1922 by the Department of State of New Jersey.
The home on 27th Street and two lots on 28th Street were purchased in January 1923.
The first phase of our church was completed in September 1924 (which is now the present-day church hall).
The current church structure was built from June 1936 to May 1938.
A building dedication banquet was held in May 1938.
Church bells installed in 1937.
Chandelier installed in 1941. Icons were added to the walls in 1944. Stained glass windows were installed in 1948.
The rectory on 27th Street was purchased in May 1950.
A thirtieth anniversary banquet was held in June 1952.
Two homes on the corner of 28th Street and the Boulevard were purchased in November 1955 and demolished in 1957, making way for our church parking lot.
The house adjacent to the church was purchased in September 1964.
The church hall was renovated in 1969.
Both the interior and exterior of the church were painted in 1972.
The parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and banquet in October 1973. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, of blessed memory, gave the address at the banquet, held at the Villa Nova.
New icons for the church walls were purchased in 1973.
The 55th Anniversary of the church was celebrated with a banquet in the church hall in November 1977.
The house adjacent to the church was demolished in 1978 and replaced with the present rectory in 1980. The blessing of the new rectory by Bishop Peter was held in November of that year, marked by a banquet in the church hall. Shortly thereafter, new sidewalks and a fence in front of the church were installed.
During the 1980's repairs and enhancements to the church were completed, including the installation of new pews, air conditioning, and wooden floors in the church hall, as well as the gold-leafing of the church's cupolas.
In 1997 the iconostas was refurbished and the church interior was painted. Also, at that time, air conditioning was installed in the church hall and the front exterior steps were repaired.
In November of 2002 our parish celebrated the 80th anniversary of its founding.
85th anniversary of its founding was celebrated by our parish on Sunday, October 28, 2007 in the newly remodeled church hall.
New red carpeting was installed in the church in October 2010.
90th anniversary of its founding was celebrated by our parish on Sunday, October 28, 2012 at the Knights of Columbus in Bayonne, NJ.
Front exterior steps of the church were demolished and repaired - November 2013.
New roofs installed on the two properties on 27th Street.
Over the course of its ninety-seven year history, Ss. Peter and Paul’s was served by thirteen parish priests: Rev. Alexis Nikolin, V. Rev. Michael Chepeleff, V. Rev. Michael Perhach, V. Rev. Constantine Buketoff, V. Rev. John Kopystansky, V. Rev. Damian Krehel, V. Rev. Theodosius Kiryluk, V. Rev. Michael Chanda, Rev. Ivan Mirov, V. Rev. Nicholas Fedetz, V. Rev. Arkadiusz Mironko, Rev. Igor Kseniuk, and V. Rev. W. Sophrony Royer. The parish has had twenty-six presidents of its parish council since 1922: Andrew Bascik, Benedict Benda, Theodore Benda, Kenneth Bianchini, John T. Brelinsky, Mark Cap, Leon Chomiak, John J. DeMay, John S. DeMay, Samuel DeMay, Paul Duda, Stephen Fedorko, Stephen Korbelak, Stephen Kostura, Stephen Kuzmich, Peter Lopen, Andrew Pelehach, Joseph Plaskon, Nicholas Skripak, Stephen Skripak, Peter Smerick, John Wanko, Dr. Michael Wanko, Stephen Wanko, Thomas Wanko, and Reader Stephen Wasilewski. There have also been numerous officers and trustees who have dedicated their time and services to the parish council over the last ninety-five years.
The parish has had four affiliated organizations: the Ss. Peter and Paul’s Ladies Guild (now defunct), the Carpatho-Russian American Citizens Club, the Bayonne Alpha “R” Club, and Lodge #100 of the Russian Brotherhood Organization of the U.S.A. Parishioner John Wanko is the national presiding officer ofthe Russian Brotherhood Organization of the U.S.A.