The Domes of St. Michael's

November 30, 1990

As cranes keep lifting glittering onion domes onto the towers of St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church, East Baltimore is getting a new landmark soon to be photographed in its Byzantine glory. Although several months' work remains, the congregation hopes to move to its new sanctuary in time to celebrate Christmas.

Two decades ago, when this Ukrainian Catholic parish began planning its future, the only thing certain was that it had outgrown its old church on Wolfe Street. For a time, it considered a suburban alternative. But moving to Catonsville would have meant leaving East Baltimore -- and the church cemetery. When an old school and warehouse site became available in the 2400 block Eastern Avenue, the parish grabbed the opportunity.

Its decision proved to be prudent.

Patterson Park is now experiencing a renewed burst of vitality. A new generation of young homeowners is sprucing up old houses. Older ethnic residents, buoyed by the winds of freedom in Europe, are rediscovering their Slavic roots and traditions. A few doors from St Michael's, a new Polish souvenir shop has opened; farther up on Lombard Street, a Russian Orthodox Church is thriving.

With the momentous changes taking place in Eastern Europe, these are joyous times for the largely Americanized Ukrainian community.

The pastor of St. Michael's typifies the new pride. He is in the process of changing his name from George to Yuri Markewych. As for St. Michael's 450 parishioners, they are scrambling to pay bills for their $3 million edifice and raising money to help restore churches in the Ukraine, where the Catholic church is again operating freely after decades of suppression. "There is a strong revival of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the old country," explains Wolodymyr C. Sushko, a long-time parishioner.

Maryland's Ukrainians are scattered throughout the state. Now an active Ukrainian community seems to be reviving in the Patterson Park area. Those five spectacular domes of St. Michael's will lead the way.

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