History of Our Parish
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants primarily from Galicia (modern day Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine) began arriving in Carteret. St. Demetrius Church was organized by St. Michael's Brotherhood in 1909 and was chartered as the St. Demetrius Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in 1910. On May 16, the church was consecrated by Bishop Soter Ortynsky, the first Greek Catholic hierarch in the United States.
In 1927, the parish voted and decided to withdraw from the Greek Catholic diocese, and to join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In July 1931, Rev. Dr. Joseph Zuk, Bishop-elect, became pastor of our St. Demetrius parish. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on September 23, 1932. Bishop Zuk maintained his residence and office in the rectory until his untimely death on February 23, 1934.
On October 15, 1932 while Bishop Zuk was still with us, Father John Hundiak was elected to the pastorate of St. Demetrius Church. During his long tenure of over fifty years, the parish flourished and grew in membership. Under Father John's guidance, many new church organizations were established including the Sisterhood of the Patronage (Pokrova) of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Ann's Auxiliary, St. Demetrius Men's Club, the Sunday School, and the Senior and Junior Chapters of the Ukrainian Orthodox League (UOL.)
All the organizations over the years have contributed to the progress and enriched the life of our parish by maintaining traditions unique to our ancestral Ukrainian Orthodox heritage.
In 1940, the Pavilion was built on land that had been purchased three years earlier. This building was used as our church hall for meetings and social affairs for many years. Today, the Pavilion houses the Men's Club meeting rooms and a renovated hall for church activities and outside rentals.
During World War II (1941-1945), 315 members of the parish enlisted in or were drafted into the Armed Services. Fourteen members of the parish made the supreme sacrifice to preserve freedom for our country. May the Memory of all our fallen soldiers be eternal! Vichnaya Pamyat!
In 1955, the St. Demetrius Ukrainian Community Center was built. The ultramodern building included additional Church School rooms, a banquet hall, and a large, well-equipped kitchen. The Community Center was blessed on July 3, 1955 by Metropolitan John of blessed memory, with 18 priests participating in the Divine Liturgy and banquet celebration.
In 1959, Fr. Peter Melech became Assistant Pastor of our parish.
On May 31, 1970, more than fifty years after his ordination, our beloved Pastor, Father John was consecrated to the office of Bishop, and chose the name of Mark, one of the evangelists. With the consecration, our church became a Cathedral and continues to be recognized as one to this day. In October 1971 at the Seventh Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in Philadelphia, Bishop Mark, for his great contributions to our Church, was elevated to the rank of Archbishop, Vicar of the Metropolitan.
On August 21, 1979, Father Peter passed away very suddenly. Father Peter served the parish faithfully for over 20 years and had endeared himself to all parishioners, young and old.
For his devotion to our Church, Father Taras was awarded the Jeweled Pectoral Cross and elevated to the rank of Proto-Priest on November 7, 1982.
On August 5, 1984, our beloved Archbishop Mark (Father John Hundiak) entered into eternal rest. He had served our St. Demetrius Parish for an unprecedented 52 years!
On April 8, 1990, Father Taras was mitred and elevated to the highest rank of Protopresbyter by His Holiness, Patriarch Mstyslav of blessed memory.
In the 1990's, Matushka MaryAnn established a food pantry for needy people who come to the rectory for assistance. The pantry, stocked by food and monetary donations from parishioners, is a community outreach program which helps those most in need.
In March 2005, Father Taras Chubenko celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Ordination to the Holy Priesthood and of his pastorate at St. Demetrius. He was honored at a banquet at the Center, with His Eminence, Archbishop Antony and many priests offering their blessings and congratulations, as did many church organizations, parishioners and loyal friends.
In celebration of the parish's centennial anniversary in 2009, new icons were installed in the church in addition renovations in the church basement, new carpeting, landscaping, irrigation, and signage.
As the parish community looks back on the past 100 years of history, we thank God for all He has done for us, and look forward with anticipation to the bright future ahead of us! Glory to God! May God grant our parish many blessed years! Mnohaya Lita!