These humble immigrants brought with themselves their dreams, hopes, desire for freedom, and a strong work ethic. All of this was coupled with their most prized possession--their Orthodox Christian Faith.
Settling on the East Side of Cleveland, these Slavs began attending St. John the Baptist Church. However, due to poor education, a lack of perception, and the confusion of an unfamiliar country, many of these Orthodox faithful found that the parish of St. John's, depending on the priest who was assigned, was actually fluctuating between the Orthodox Faith and the Unia (or Eastern Rite Roman Catholics). In 1922 a conflict arose amongst parishioners over the issue of Creed and papal allegiance, and a court battle soon followed. Even though the majority of the parishioners of St John's were loyal to Orthodoxy, due to a legal technicality, the courts awarded the parish and all of its property to those who favored the Unia.
Those faithful, who had fought so diligently for the Orthodox Faith yet lost their property, became, defacto, the nucleus of our present parish. For the first several months they would meet either at the YMCA or at St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox Church on East 36th St. Then, from 1922 until 1926, they were allowed to use a vacant building on the property of the old Second Presbyterian Church on East 30th St.
In 1923 the Rev. Fr. Joseph Antonoff was assigned as Rector of the newly organized Archangel Michael Church and a parcel of property was purchased at 10000 Union Ave by the parish. Construction began on the church and was completed in 1927. In December 1926, the Rev. Fr. Joseph Stephanko succeeded Fr. Antonoff and remained the pastor until 1933.
On August 2, 1933, the Rev. Fr. Vladimir Prislopsky was assigned to the parish and shepherded his flock for 37 years, until his untimely death on September 23, 1970. During his tenure the parish flourished and grew to become one of the three largest parishes in America. He organized and implemented many of the clubs and social organizations, which continue through today. A social hall was built by the parish, with an auditorium and bowling alleys. This hall was utilized continually by our members, but was also available to the public on a rental basis. Many of Clevaland's first rock-n-roll shows were showcased at St Michael's Hall. A young and then unknown Elvis Presley performed one of his first public concerts at St. Michael's Hall. His manager, surprised by the turn-out of teenagers, asked the parish president if he could rent the hall for another concert the next evening, but was turned down!
Realizing the size of his congregation (well over 1,200 souls), and the fact that the younger generation was moving out of the old neighborhoods and into the suburbs, Fr. Prislopsky guided Archangel Michael in the building of a "sister" parish in Maple Heights which was dedicated to the First-called Apostle Andrew.
As a reward for Fr. Prislopsky's tireless efforts and dedication, he was elevated to the rank of Mitred Archpriest and Proto-presbyter. He is affectionately revered and loved by this parish, and acknowledged by all of the Orthodox Faithful of northern Ohio. He was a tireless worker and tremendous promoter of Orthodoxy, as well as a great leader and organizer. Respected by clergymen and laity alike, he was a recognized figure within the community of Greater Cleveland.
After Fr. Prislopsky's death, the search for a new priest began. Fr. Nicholas Gobora, associate pastor of St. Mary's Cathedral in Minneapolis, was chosen and assigned in February of 1971. During this time a deterioration of the existing neighborhood occurred, making for an unsafe atmosphere, and a decision was made to move the parish to a new location. The Union Avenue location was sold and new property in Broadview Heights was purchased. A new church edifice was constructed and completed in May of 1977. A gymnasium and Party Center was also constructed. Fr. Gobora retired in December of 1995, after 25 years of service.
In June of 1996, Fr. John Memorich was assigned as Rector of Archangel Michael. Fr. John, a native of Minneapolis, came to Archangel Michael after a seven year pastorate in the small farming community of Clayton, WI. Fr. John and his family have brought abundant energy and enthusiasm to this parish community which abounds in love, warmth, and generosity. With an emphasis upon education, and an enthusiasm for preaching and teaching, he has helped spark a revitalization of liturgical life and the renewal of spirituality.
In July of 2010 we welcomed to our parish Fr Joseph McCartney, who has been assigned as Associate Priest. Fr Joseph, along with our Deacons Dennis Lucak and Daniel Kovalak, have increased our pastoral abilities significantly. The parish of Archangel Michael continues to burn with zeal and love for Christ, and is a guiding light to those who are seeking Orthodoxy.