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In the early days of immigration St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church in Perth Amboy was the center for all Greek Catholics. The trip of eight miles by trolley or by foot was a great distance. As soon as numbers grew, the immigrants in Rahway looked to found their own church.
Organizational work was begun by Father Victor Kovaliczky in 1912. In 1913 Father Peter Kustan became the first resident pastor. Orignally lots were purchased for a church building, but when the German Lutheran Church moved to a new location, their church was purchased for use by the congregation. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Newark, the Most Reverend Joseph O'Connor, blessed the newly renovated church in September 1913 and dedicated it under the patronage of St. John the Baptist.
In 1961 Father (later Bishop) Emil Mihalik was appointed as pastor of St. John's. He immediately saw the need and began to look for a new location for the church. During his pastorate the parish bought property on St. George's Avenue. A new church and parish center were built.
The name of the parish was changed from St. John the Baptist to St. Thomas the Apostle. The new church was blessed by Bishop Stephen Kocisko on October 6, 1968. In June 1969 Father Mihalik became the first bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, OH. The building of the new church and parish center marked a time of renewal and growth for the parish. Within six years of the dedication the parish celebrated its mortgage burning.
On St. Thomas Sunday 1982 the new icon screen was blessed by Bishop Michael Dudick, Bishop Emil Mihalik and Bishop Dominic Marconi, auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. Since 1976 a Byzantine Catholic Awareness Day has been sponsored by the Union County Vicariate of the Newark Archdiocese and hosted at St. Thomas the Apostle parish. This event was organized by Bishop Marconi and the deans of Union County to help Roman Catholics become more aware of the presence and riches of the Byzantine Catholic Churches within Union County.
In 1987 in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the parish two banners were dedicated in honor of the founders of the parish. The banner of SS. Cyril and Methodius has two side panels with the coats of arms of the counties that formed part of the original Union of Uzhorod in 1646, and the banner of Our Lady of Mariapoch has flower motifs from the same counties as side panels. On October 3, 1988, the 25th of the dedication of the church and parish center, a new catechetical center dedicated to the memory of Bishop Emil Mihalik was blessed by Bishop Michael Dudick.
Reprinted from Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan of Pittsburgh - Directory. Copyright © 2016 by the Byzantine Catholic Metropoliam of Pittsburgh. All rights reserved.
The Pastors of St. Thomas the Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church
Rev. Peter Kustan 1912 - 1926
Rev. Joseph Jackanich 1926 - 1932
Rev. Alexander Dolinay 1932 - 1934
Rev. John Slivka 1934 - 1944
Rev. Paul Barnyock 1944 - 1952
Rev. Alexis Vislocky 1952 - 1956
Rev. Emil Bednar 1956 - 1960
Rev. Robert Senetsky 1960
Rev. Emil J. Mihalik (later Eparch of Parma 1969 - 1984) 1960 - 1969
Rev. Theodore Chelena 1969 - 1975
Rev. John Zeyack 1975 - 2003
Very Reverend Michael Mondik 2003 -2015
Right Reverend James Hayer- 2015-
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