The founders of St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church were imigrants who arrived throughout the Naugatuck Valley in what are now the cities of Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, Oxford, Orange, Woodbridge, Beacon Falls, Naugatuck, Waterbury and Milford during the 1880's and 1890's. Most of them emigrated from Lemkivshchyna (western part of Ukraine), Carpato-Ukraine, Galacia and other western regions of Ukraine - all of what is now Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. They were Ukrainian Catholics as well as Slovak Catholics of the Byzantine (Greek) rite.
The first of the imigrants who were to organize the parish of Saints Peter and Paul arrived in Ansonia in 1884. Although they may not have realized it at that time, these faithfull immigrants were true pioneers, for they were soon to succeed in establishing one of the first parishes of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States.
In 1895 the founders found a site for the church in Ansonia at the corner of May Basset streets and was purchased on September 16, 1895, from Robert B. May for the sum of $1,500. In less than a year by August 1896 the site was paid for. Six months later, in February 1897, a contract for $3,548 was signed to erect the new church. On May 9, 1897 the conerstone of the church was put in place. For more than a decade, the people had labored tiressly for that moment. They gathered around and stood solemnly as prayers were said, the thanks given, and the cornerstone cemented into place. It was as if their faith had finally found an anchor in the soil of the new land - an anchor that would hold them fast through all the storms of the future.
On December 31, 1897, Reverend Father Anthony Bonchevsky arrived in Ansonia from the Diocese of Premyshl in Galacia to become the church's first resident pastor. A little more than one year after the ceremony which marked the laying of the cornerstone, the completed church was dedicated on July 24, 1898.
On October 1, 1900, Father Bonchevsky, together with the church trustees, acquired land for a cemetary by purchasing six acres of land along Division and Chatfield Streets in the City of Derby.
After five years of holy service, Father Bonchevsky poor health had deveopled into an illness and he died on January 25, 1903. On January 29th the beloved Father Bonchevsky was laid to rest in the Saint Peter and Paul Cemetary.
To be continued...