History of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church


Ukrainians in New York City celebrated their first Ukrainian rite liturgy on October 10, 1890 at the church of St. Brigid on Avenue C. Fifteen years passed before Ukrainians had an organized church in this area. It was 1905 when St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church was established with its first location at 332-340 East 20th Street and First Avenue. By 1907 the parish was experiencing a rapid growth, having performed among other services some 200 marriages. It wasn't long before St. George's became the recognized nucleus of all Ukrainian churches in the New York area.

St. George parish moved to 7th Street between Second and Third Avenues in 1911. A Methodist church was purchased and adapted to the Ukrainian Byzantine rite, and officially blessed on October 22, 1911. In 1940 the parish established an elementary school and subsequently a high school which was accredited by the State of New York. In 1958, a 3 million dollar school building was built and presently it serves both as St. George Elementary School and St. George Academy. In 1978, St. George's parishioners gave generously to build the new church structure in classical Ukrainian Byzantine style architecture which stands today on the corner of 7th Street and Taras Shevchenko Place. The response of the faithful was so overwhelming that the new church was built without debt.

Prominent in Ukrainian church architecture is the dome, or cupola, representing heaven and the universe. Inside St. George's dome is an icon of Christ the Pantocrator with the inscription: "I am the Resurrection and Life." Christ is supported by four archangels with interlocking wings while a number of six-winged cherubs look on.

The portico of the church has a mosaic of Christ circumscribed with the words: "Come to me all of you who labor and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest." The mural includes Ukrainians in native costume. In the background is an image of St. George Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine and the historical Kievan St. Sophia Cathedral (Kyiv, Ukraine). Directly above the doorway of the inner entrance is a mosaic of the church's patron saint George slaying the dragon symbolizing the constant struggle between good and evil.

The St. George complex is completed by a new multidwelling apartment building which presently houses the rectory, convent and multiple dwellings for members of the community.