Saint Anthony's is a relatively small (but growing!) multi-ethnic community, with a healthy mix of Orthodox-from-birth members and converts to the faith. It was founded by the sons and daughters of Syrian immigrants. Others have Slavic background, a few are Greek-Americans, and we also have some Romanian families. Of course, there is also a large contingent of "regular" Americans whose ethnic background is a more distant memory. Our little community consists of people of all ages, couples and singles, old and young, babies and nonagenarians. We pray together, learn about Christ together, care for each other, fast and feast and share meals together, enjoy each other's company and, generally, strive to grow in Christ and train ourselves for the Kingdom of God. In short, we are an ethnic mosaic, but it is not blood or culture or food that brings us together—the heart and foundation of it all is Christ.
By God's grace many have converted to Orthodoxy in their later years and joined Saint Anthony's. Some are married to an Orthodox partner, and graciously join us in prayer even while retaining their confessional allegiance elsewhere. We count as full members those who approach the chalice and receive Holy Communion because they count themselves Orthodox ("we worship as we believe and we believe as we worship"), and welcome as friends of the parish any seekers and inquirers into Orthodoxy, whose hearts and minds are known only to God.
Our priest, Fr. Bogdan Bucur, is a native Romanian who came to America in 2000, completed his graduate education in Theology at Marquette University, and is now teaching Bible and Patristics at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh.
The mission of our Church is as it has always been: to care for the people of God and the community of Butler; to embody Christ's teachings through the careful practice of prayer, study, fasting, almsgiving, and hospitality; to proclaim the fullness of the Orthodox faith to the city of Butler and its surrounding areas.
The patron saint of our community is Saint Anthony the Great, the fourth-century "father of monasticism." While his figure is usually associated with the monastic life, all of us can in fact learn from him. On his icon are inscribed words of Saint Anthony that help and inspire us in our attempt to train ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ:
I saw the snares of the devil all over the earth, and I said, "How can one possibly avoid them?"
And I heard a voice saying, "Humility"!
Orthodoxy represents a tiny fraction of the American population. And yet, we know that we have something to share with the world: something good, something unique and inestimable, "the pearl of great price" which is Christ Himself and the risen life that is in Him. It's not that we are better than others, or that we "have" the truth, while others don't; but the mystery of God's dwelling with humans, and the foretaste of the Resurrection, made available to us in divine worship, in the teaching of the apostolic faith, and in the daily life of discipleship -- all of this is truly unique and invaluable!
Before going to speak to others, we are trying to embody the new life that is in Christ. There are many ways of doing so: we strive to make our common prayer beautiful. The Orthodox understanding of worship is that our Liturgy here on earth is an entry into the angelic mode of worship. This requires mindfulness, solemnity, and beauty. The space of worship should also be a reflection of heaven: this is why we give thanks for the work of our iconographer, Dollie Sipos, who has along the years added icon after icon to our church. Come and see!
Orthodoxy is not only worship, but also a teaching. We are trying to offer "food" for thought and for the heart to anyone interested in learning about Orthodoxy--members of our parish, inquirers, visitors, etc. Please join us for our regular "Intro to Orthodoxy" presentations, which take place every two or three months and the regular Bible study, focussed on the parables of Christ. Come and see!
Together, doctrine and worship shape one's mind and heart, and affect our actions. But Orthodoxy is, first and foremost, a mode of life and action, a way of living and dying with Christ, so that we may also be raised with Christ. Despite our relatively small size and our limited resources, we are contributing to the work of helping the needy by partnering with other Christians, such as the Society of St. Vincent DePaul in Butler, and FOCUS (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve) in Pittsburgh. Come and lend us a hand!
Finally, we love to break bread together on Sundays after Divine Liturgy. Coffee and donuts are nice; but sharing a real meal (and we know how to cook!) and getting to know each other, making and nurturing friendships is so much better ... Come and see!
April 25, 1948
Syrian Orthodox Church Association is created with the intention of starting a church in Butler, PA
Weekly services are held in the Syrian Hall. Fr. Alexander Curry and the Butler community discuss plans for the construction of a church. Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) gives his blessing for a church to be started in Butler, with the name of Saint Anthony.
Vespers is held at Saint Peter and Paul Church in Lyndora on November 2. A combined church service with the Ukranian faithful is held on Palm Sunday (April 26, 1959) at Saints Peter and Paul Ukranian Orthodox Church.
June 18, 1961
Ground broken at the church's current location. The church hall first used for meetings in 1962. Church services are also held in the hall twice a month.
July 5, 1970
Fr. James Deep ordained to the priesthood and assigned to our church. First Divine Liturgy is celebrated at Saint Anthony on July 12.
Building of the parish home at the south end of the church.
October 13, 1974
Metropolitan Philip consecrates the sanctuary.
Fr. Patrick Reardon is appointed to serve as the second priest of Saint Anthony.
Fr. Gregory Long is ordained to the Holy Priesthood and is appointed to serve at Saint Anthony.
Fr. Bogdan Bucur is appointed to serve at Saint Anthony. First Divine Liturgy is celebrated at Saint Anthony on August 22.