Parish History

The Begininnings

Many of the first generation Greek immigrants of Pittsburgh lacked financial means, a formal education, or a working command of the English language, but these pioneers dedicated themselves to building a church on the North Side – an area that had become heavily populated with Greek Orthodox people. As a result, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church came into being in 1923.

When St. Nicholas Church, the only Greek church in Pittsburgh, was moved from Wiley Avenue downtown to the then distant Oakland district, the establishment of another Greek Orthodox Church in the densely Hellenic populated area of North Side, was necessitated. As a result, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church was established on at the corner of Sandusky Street and Stockton Avenue. Rev. Nicholas Papavasilis performed the first church services in April 1923. Shortly thereafter, the community was moved to the second floor of a building on the corner of Sandusky and Lacock Streets, before moving to 606 Sandusky Street in 1931. The contributions of all parishioners reflect Holy Trinity’s present brilliance. During the early years, the parishioners, primarily made up of first generation immigrants, struggled in many ways, but especially financially. Somehow, though, they found the means to sustain our Holy Orthodox faith.

During one period, a commissioned “dues” collector, many will remember Peter Angelakos, went door-to-door to all of the Greek Orthodox households in the community to collect the contributions for the coming Sunday’s liturgical needs, including candles and utilities. The monthly dues were 25-cents per month. Men would go to the nearby Ohio River to gather sand for the candle stands. Others would cook a meal for the community priest, who in the early days, many times did not have a regular salary.

On a regular basis, the men and women of the Holy Trinity drama troupe would put on Greek plays and comedies, with the proceeds going to the church treasury. One man, Mr. John Athas, in the heart of the Depression, assumed the financial responsibility of the Church, and in his tenure of five years as president of Holy Trinity, was responsible for the complete amortization of the Church’s indebtedness.

The spiritual life at Holy Trinity has been led for 85 years by many priests, bishops and archbishops. They have been the shepherds of Orthodoxy on the North Side. In the early years, many came to Holy Trinity as volunteer priests with little formal training. An older priest would take a young man and train him on his own. When the time was right, the new priest would take on the liturgical responsibilities of the community.

As Renaissance I and II was dramatically altering the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh and the construction of the Allegheny Center shopping mall drew near, Holy Trinity’s parishioners became inspired to find a new and larger home for the community which had out grown the Sandusky Street location. Thus, the idea for a new church at a different location was borne. Many parishioners were active in raising the monies necessary to purchase the new property and build the new church. A Women’s Auxiliary was organized to raise funds for the new facility. This group, led by Alexandra Beckas and Fr. John Pitses, held rummage sales, bake sales, fashion shows, and other events with all proceeds going to the new building fund. Everyone made sacrifices so that the community’s dreams could be realized.

The North Avenue Church

In November 1958, a memorable ground-breaking ceremony took place just a few blocks away from the church, at 302 West North Avenue. The new church’s design, although not a typical Byzantine style, and its architect, James Mitchell (who also designed the Pittsburgh Mellon Arena), were touted in several national architectural shows for excellence in concrete structures. The cost of the new church was $217,000.

On Palm Sunday, April 17, 1960, the first service was held, even though the interior of the church was incomplete. The parishioners felt that there was no better way to glorify God than by inaugurating services for Holy Week. A long awaited dream had become a reality! A year after the groundbreaking, with His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos officiating, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Pittsburgh was consecrated. The festivities commenced on Saturday, April 29, 1961, as the Archbishop arrived with the Icon of the Weeping Theotokos and held Vespers that evening. The following day, the official consecration took place with 20 priests assisting the Archbishop. Also participating was Mr. William Anastos, the chairman of the new building committee, as well as the “Godfather” of the new church. During those two days, thousands of people passed in and around our new church to view its beauty.

Over the years there have been many parishioners who have contributed much to Holy Trinity, not only financially but through their labor. From ‘Barba’ Jim Retatagos who served as long time neokoros, psalti, lawn-keeper and in whatever role the church needed him; to Charles Petredis, with his large white mustache, who served as a psalti for 47 years; to John W. Chapas, who served on the parish council for many years and was instrumental in the sale of the Sandusky Street property and the building of the West North Avenue church and hall; to Bill Phaturos who was the church’s long-time caterer and helped to start the Greek Food Festival. These forefathers, and many others, have built the foundation upon which our community’s future is based.

Going North

After 51 years at its North Avenue location, Holy Trinity Church made its final move by purchasing a beautiful 10-acre plot of land from La Roche College at the corner of Babcock Boulevard and Cumberland Road. Designed by renowned Byzantine architect Christ. J. Kamages of San Francisco, opened on the Saturday of Pentecost weekend, June 22, 2013, with His Eminence Metropolitan Savas and many area clergy celebrating the "Thrynanoixia" Service to officially open the doors, not only to the church but to a new an exciting life for the people of the Holy Trinity community.

Faith. Family. Community.

Holy Trinity Church was a powerful witness on the North Side for faith, family and friends throughout its life there and wove itself in the fabric of the community by opening its doors in the annual Greek Food Festival, lunches and special events and the “The Feed the Hungry” project, just to name a few. Beyond the local community, members of the parish have participated in Metropolis and Archdiocesan ministries, mission trips to the Middle East, Mexico and Montana. The generous parishioners also support many other philanthropic events, including donating thousands of Christmas gifts over the years to local charities and needy children.

Holy Trinity has also been a family-focused community with its active youth ministries: H.O.P.E., J.O.Y., G.O.Y.A. and Y.A.M. have been organized to provide a place for our youth to gather and celebrate their Greek Orthodox faith and come together for fun and serving in the name of Christ. Holy Trinity's leaching ministries and opportunities for religious education to its parishioners and the local community include the Three Hierarchs Bookstore, Church School, Faith and Family Wednesdays, St. Lydia’s Orthodox Women’s Study, St. Nikodemos Men’s Fellowship and the Orthodox Studies Forum, all of which at various times have provided avenues for parishioners of all ages to learn more about our Holy Orthodox Faith.
 

A Timeline of Holy Trinity History

1900

Carnegie Technical School, now Carnegie Mellon, is founded in Pittsburgh.

1914

World War I breaks out.

1903

First World Series played at Exposition Park on the North Side.

1905

First motion picture house in the U.S. opens in Pittsburgh.

1923

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is founded on the North Side.

1927

The Pittsburgh Symphony is founded.

1931

The National Ladies Philoptochos Society is established.

1931

Holy Trinity moves to 606 Sandusky Street.

1936

Flood hits Pittsburgh on St. Patrick’s Day.

1940

The Pirates play their first night game at Forbes Field.

1940

On October 28, General loannis Metaxas rejects Mussolini’s demands to over power Greece with the simple “OXI!” (no) and OXI Day is born.

1943

Holy Trinity Cemetery is purchased in the North Hills.

1952

More than 400 choir members from more than 25 Eastern Greek Orthodox churches sing at a choir convention in Oakland. Practice takes place at Holy Trinity.

1958

Ground is broken at 302 West North Avenue for new church.

1958

Her Majesty Frederika, Queen of the Hellenes, visits Pittsburgh.

1959

Frank and Seder’s department store closes.

1960

On April 17-Palm Sunday-first service is held at new church, with largest gathering of Orthodox Christians to date in attendance.

1960

Bill Mazeroski’s ninth inning home run wins the World Series.

1961

Archbishop lakovos is enthroned as primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

1961

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is consecrated by Archbishop lakovos on April 29, with 20 priests assisting.

1962

Holy Trinity’s 39th Anniversary Ball is held at the newly-opened Civic Arena.  Two thousand people attend, making it the largest dance held to date at the Arena.

1964

The Beatles visit the U.S. and perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.

1967

The military junta takes power in Greece.

1972

Holy Trinity’s first Greek Food Festival is held.

1973

Holy Trinity celebrates it’s 50th Anniversary.

1974

Holy Trinity Church library is dedicated. That same year, 1,488 faithful attend Holy Friday service.

1974

Turkey invades Cyprus.

1975

A banner year. In May, the Holy Trinity Boy Scouts win first prize at  “Camporee.” A kitchen is added to the church hall. And the Greek Food Festival brings in $13,403.28.

1976

The United States celebrates its bicentennial.

1977

Thinking differently, Apple Computer Co. introduces the first Macintosh.

1981

The May issue of Pittsburgh Magazine features Stella Athanasiou and the Holy Trinity Greek Dancers.

1984

A new tradition—Wednesday lunches—begin at Holy Trinity.

1989

The National Young Adult League (YAL) Conference is held in Pittsburgh. John Touloumes (later to become the priest of Holy Trinity Church) is chairman.

1992

The first Walk for Paradise is held to benefit The Nativity of Theotokos Monastery in Saxonburg. Funds raised are used to pay the mortgage, with many Holy Trinity parishioners attending.

1993

Holy Trinity sponsors its first GOYA Diocesan Basketball Tournament and over 500 GOYAns, coaches and chaperones attend.

1993

Holy Trinity celebrates its 70th Anniversary. Also that year, the grand opening of the newly remodeled community center takes place. Father John Touloumes is assigned as Holy Trinity’s priest on August 1.

1997

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew comes to Pittsburgh during his first tour of the United States in many years. A number of Holy Trinity parishioners are among the nearly 1,000 Orthodox Christians who greet him at the Pittsburgh Airport on a snowy Saturday afternoon. On Sunday morning, he celebrates The Divine Liturgy at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Fr. John Androutsopoulos retires from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in New Kensington, PA and joins Holy Trinity as our resident “Gheronda” (respected elder clergy).

1998

Seventh and final Walk for Paradise takes place in May, with 22 Holy Trinity “Heaven Steppers” in attendance. The next week, Frank Sinatra dies and the last episode of Seinfeld airs.

1998

Holy Trinity celebrates its 75th Anniversary. Google is founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

1999

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios elected to lead the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States.

2000

Millennium celebrations take place throughout the world, including the "Hellenium" hosted by Holy Trinity Church. Computer programmers are relieved when no significant computer failures arise from the “Y2K Bug”.

2001

Terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001 shake the United States – nearly 3,000 people die in the attacks.

2003

U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates over Texas upon reentry, killing all 7 astronauts onboard.

2004

The Holy Trinity “Wednesday Lunch” celebrates its 20th year. The Olympic Games return to its birthplace, as Athens, Greece hosts the XXVIII Olympiad.

2005

His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos falls asleep in the Lord on April 9, 2005.

2006

Pittsburgh Steelers win their 5th Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. In February, Holy Trinity sponsors its second GOYA Metropolis Basketball Tournament and a total of 29 teams from 9 parishes participate. In April, the official “Thyraxoinia” (“Opening of the Doors”) service held at the new St George Chapel at the Holy Trinity Cemetery, presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos. In August, Fr. Radu Bordeianu joins Holy Trinity as the assistant priest.

2007

In December, Holy Trinity plans for the future by agreeing to purchase 10 acres of new property from La Roche College in the North Hills of Pittsburgh for $1,050,000. Holy Trinity sends its fourth mission team to Project Mexico with 17 missionaries to build a home and serve the needs of Saint Innocent Orphanage.

2008

Holy Trinity celebrates its 85th Anniversary. 26 Holy Trinity missionaries participate in the YOCAMA missiontrip to the Blackfoot Indian tribe in Browning, MT. A “Ground Blessing” Divine Liturgy is held at the new church property on October 19th.

2011

The Holy Trinity community celebrates its last Sunday morning Divine Liturgy at the North Avenue location on Palm Sunday, April 17 - exactly 51 years after its opening Liturgy there on Palm Sunday, April 17, 1960. The last ever Divine Liturgy there follows at the end of the week at the Resurrection Service at Pascha, and after celebrating the remainder of the North Side Divine Liturgy services in the Social Hall, the very last Liturgy on the North Side is offered on Pentecost Sunday, June 12, 2011. On June 26, the community takes up temporary residence at the former Northway Elementary School on Browns Lane in Ross Township. On December 11, 2011, the newly-enthroned Metopolitan Savas officially breaks ground on the construction of the new church.

2013

On the Saturday of Pentecost weekend, June 22, 2013, His Eminence Metropolitan Savas offers the "Thrynanoixia" Service to officially open the doors of the new Holy Trinity Church in McCandless Township.