history of Holy Ghost Parish begins with the European origins of
its founding families. Beginning in the late 1870's and continuing
into the early 1900's, immigrants from the old Austro-Hungarian
Empire began making their way to America.
the northeastern areas of this dual kingdom, there resided a number
of different peoples of Slavic origin. The Austrian region of Galicia
contained a concentration of Poles and Ukrainians. Similarly, on
the southern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, in the kingdom
of Hungary, lived other Slavic peoples of various backgrounds. The
populace of this area went by a variety of national names, however,
and terms such as Slavish, Slovak, Hungarian Slav, Ruthenian and
Rusyn were used interchangeably.
faith, the Galician Ukrainians and Hungarian Slavs from the Carpathians
were Greek Catholic. This term was used to distinguish Catholics
of the Byzantine rite in communion with the Pope, from Roman Catholics
that resided in the Empire. Although the Catholic Church is unified
in terms of faith, there exists within it a diversity in ritual.
Thus, the founding families of Holy Ghost Church brought with them
their love of their own spiritual heritage.
poverty and the quest for a better life forced large numbers of
people to leave Austria-Hungary. The points of departure were many;
seaports on the Baltic Sea or coastal cities on the Atlantic Ocean,
such as Rotterdam. At that time, passage was by boat, usually in
crowded and unsanitary conditions. The trip was long and frightening
for most, yet their desire for advancement outweighed the hardships.
arriving in cities such as New York, most Ukrainians and Carpathian
immigrants headed for the coal mines and steel mills of Pennsylvania.
Many also settled in other industrial centers of the Northeast and
these people went, they brought with them a desire to establish
churches that reflected their spiritual faith. For many reasons,
they were usually misunderstood by their fellow Catholics, and it
was against great odds that they erected their places of worship.
By 1905 there were some 250,000 Ukrainian and Carpathian Byzantine
rite Catholics in the United States.
the late 1890's, the first groups of Ukrainian immigrants began
to make their way into the Connecticut Valley area of Massachusetts.
Many came from established Ukrainian communities in Pennsylvania,
New York and New Jersey, and some directly from Ukraine. Unhappy
with the work they had found earlier in the mines and mills, many
yearned to return to the land as they had done in Europe. Soon,
others began to settle, hearing from their friends and relatives
of the opportunities that existed in the valley towns.
it was the men that came first, who were then followed by their
families. By the early 1900's there was a sizable population of
Ukrainians in towns such as Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately, with
smaller populations in Hadley, Amherst, Greenfield and Hatfield.
Other families, though fewer in number, settled in hill towns such
as Conway and Ashfield, and in communities in Southern Vermont and
Hungarian Slavs from the Carpathian regions of Hungary also settled
in the area towns, though they were fewer in number.
became the livelihood for most of these families. Sharecropping
was the starting point which, after years of hard work, led to the
purchase of the dream, a farm. In sharecropping, a family would
rent a piece of land from the owner, who would provide the sharecropper
with seed and fertilizer. When the harvest was collected, the tenant
would split the profit with the owner. Slowly, these immigrant families
saved enough until they could purchase the land.
of the sizable community of Byzantine rite Catholic Ukrainians and
Hungarians, there was, increasingly, the desire to establish a church
that reflected their time-honored traditions. Most attended Roman
Catholic churches, but deeply missed their own Liturgy. About 1920,
through the encouragement of some local Roman rite clergy, an initial
meeting was held to discuss the feasibility of starting their own
church. A committee was formed which traveled to surrounding communities
in hopes of obtaining support for this project. Often a Ukrainian
Catholic priest from New York or Connecticut would accompany them
to encourage the faithful. Donations were collected from many in
the hope of fulfilling their dream.
all, some 60 to 80 families became affiliated with the future parish.
While there were many more Byzantine rite Ukrainian families in
the area, time and distance took their toll. Some felt comfortable
in the churches they had been attending; others were concerned with
the problems of travel and expense.
year, 1920 saw the official establishment of the parish. Soon, land
on Sugarloaf Street was purchased from Mr. Charles Mosher. On the
back of the property, there existed a carriage shed, built in the
1850's of post and beam construction. This was to become the future
Holy Ghost Church.
long days at work in the fields, the parishioners would gather to
labor at the site of the church. First, the cellar hole was dug,
using horses and scoops - and a lot of manual labor. Later, the
foundation was built, and then came the task of moving the carriage
shed into place.
Nightly, the people would gather, slowly, with horses and muscle,
moving the building on rollers to the foundation. It took over a
week to accomplish this task.
the meantime, services were held, as frequently as possible, at
the Redman's Hall in South Deerfield, as the work continued on the
church. Since Ukrainian Catholic priests were scarce at this time,
especially in rural churches, the founders accepted the services
of an Orthodox priest for the first two years. The finishing touches
on the church building were being completed. The exterior was stuccoed,
and the interior walls were plastered; wainscoting was installed,
a choir loft built and a sanctuary constructed. Later, stained glass
windows were added, and icons were painted on the walls. Finally,
the traditional onion dome and cross were erected on top of the
church, and, in 1929, a house was purchased as the rectory for a
to return to their Catholic faith, the parish joined the Ukrainian
Catholic Diocese of Philadelphia in 1922 because the majority of
parishioners were of Galician-Ukrainian origin. On the otherhand,
parishes with Hungarian-Slavic majorities joined the Pittsburgh
Ruthenian Catholic Diocese. In later years, both of these dioceses
were further divided, so that today there are some 800,000 Ukrainian
and Ruthenian Byzantine Rite Catholics in the United States, under
the jurisdiction of two archdioceses and five dioceses.
Ghost Church became a focal point of the area's Ukrainian community.
Fund-raising events, such as dinners and picnics, were held to raise
money for the upkeep of the church. Numerous baptisms, marriages
and funerals took place in the church, as can be attested by the
large number of people in the area who can trace their heritage
to the parish.
the early 1950's, a few new families arrived from war-torn Europe
and contributed their efforts to the maintaining of the church.
1971, the community embarked on the project of building a new rectory,
which now stands beside the church. The church itself was later
enhanced with new siding.
Vatican II, Eastern Catholic churches throughout the world have
been encouraged to return to their traditional, liturgical practices.
In recent years, with the spirit of Vatican II in mind, the church
community at Holy Ghost decided to have its church reflect its Byzantine-Ukrainian
the beginning of 1981, a renovation project was initiated, and plans
were made to install the traditional iconostas. Along with this,
a choir was again formed to lead the congregational singing in both
English and Slavonic.
the descendants of the founding families and the later arrivals,
Holy Ghost church today reflects people of varied ethnic backgrounds
who have been drawn to the church because of its beautiful traditions
and, most importantly, the richness of its Eastern spirituality
contained in the Divine Liturgy and other liturgical services.