BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Sacred Heart Ukrainian Catholic is celebrating its 75 anniversary this month. Since its founding in November 1944, the church has served as a religious, social and cultural center for the Greater Binghamton area’s Ukrainian Catholic population.
Pastor Teodor Czabala said many of the church’s earliest members immigrated to the United States after World War II and found jobs at the Endicott Johnson shoe factories and IBM.
“The biggest thing for them was the freedom. The freedom where they could openly worship, they could openly speak in Ukrainian,” Czabala said. “They could walk down the street and not have to worry about speaking to somebody in Ukrainian. Whereas they would if they were back in the Soviet Union where they were fleeing from the communists after Word War II.”
Parishioner Diana Bendz said the church is like a second family. Her favorite memory is from the ethnic festival the city used to host.
“There used to be an ethnic festival here and there would be a float decorated Ukrainian style,” Bendz described. “And on the float our children would be dressed in Ukrainian garb and parade down Main Street.”
The church is continuing to celebrate its anniversary with a Hierarchical liturgy on Sunday, November 10 at 10 a.m. at “The Wooden Church” at 230 Ukrainian Hill Road in Johnson City.