St. Stephen Orthodox Cathedral

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St. Stephen Orthodox Cathedral

Historical Notes

       St. Stephen’s traces its roots back to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, which was founded in 1909 and located in Northern Liberties at 4th and Fairmount Streets in Philadelphia.  From 1964-1969 the parish was known as St. Michael’s Orthodox Catholic Church of the Metropolia (now the Orthodox Church in America) and services were held at 4th and Fairmount and later on Rising Sun Avenue.  In 1968, the parish purchased 2 ½ acres of ground on Verree Road from the Sisters of the House of the Good Shepherd (the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia) and built a Rectory on the grounds in 1969.  This decision represented a commitment to expand the parish and move Orthodoxy to the Greater Northeast.

          In 1970 the parish incorporated as The Committee of and for a Metropolia Church.  Due to the sale of the Rectory/Chapel property on Rising Sun Avenue, the congregation did not have a place to worship.  Thanks to the Christian love extended by St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church at Front and the Boulevard, services were held at that house of worship from April 1970 until August 1974.

          During the period of worship at St. Gabriel’s, the congregation chose St. Stephen The Protomartyr as its Patron Saint and two years later, in July 1973 the parish signed a contract to construct a house of worship and in October 1973 ground was broken for construction.

          The first liturgy in the newly completed main church was held on August 17, 1974 and the consecration and dedication was held on September 7, 1974.  The consecration and dedication of St. Michael’s Chapel took place on November 10, 1974.  In recognition of the dedication and zeal of the members of the parish, the Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America elevated the parish to the status of Cathedral in October 1974.  St. Stephen’s was also chosen by St. Tikhon’s Seminary in 2007 to be the location for the satellite Diaconate program which meets on Saturdays during the school year.

          In October of 2005 St. Stephen’s Cathedral was a place of official installation of our ruling Hierarch, His Grace Bishop Tikhon.  We, the faithful of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, are truly blessed to have His Grace as our shepherd and are praying that our Lord will grant him Many Years!

          St. Stephen’s owes a huge debt of gratitude to its former and current pastors, its readers and altar servers,  founders and benefactors, Parish Council Executive Boards and Trustees, committee members, choir directors, singers, Sunday School teachers, Women’s Society members, St. Stephen’s O.C.F. members, Church Store coordinators, workers, volunteers, parishioners and friends, and anyone else who was inadvertently excluded.

          In the scheme of things, our thirty-five year history is barely the blink of an eye.  Our history continues to be made, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year.  Thanks be to God, we have been blessed beyond measure.  Let us resolve not to bury our talents, but instead, to use them for the glory of God and the building up of this Orthodox Christian community.

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