Rev. Kluchko, wife retiring 42 years after moving here
By Emma Jene Lelik
For The Valley Independent
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Belle Vernon, PA
"It's time to say so long. New people come into our lives. I ask you
to welcome the new priest (Father Sam Smolcic)."
With those final words of farewell, the Very Rev. John Kluchko ended
a pastorate of 42 years at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in the
Lynnwood section of Washington Township on Theophany Sunday.
When Father Kluchko and his wife, Mildred, first came to the area,
the priest was asked to serve at the newly organized Holy
Resurrection Church while he was attending graduate school at the
University of Pittsburgh, where he was pursuing a degree in social work.
"We built the new church and I stayed on," Kluchko said of his long tenure.
He had served short pastorates in Bethlehem, Pa. and Elmira, N.Y.,
after being ordained by Archbishop Dimitri in New Jersey in 1962. He
was born in Shenandoah, Pa., on July 15, 1938.
Under his guidance, the new church was also furnished and many
educational programs were sponsored for the parish and the community.
Father Kluchko acknowledged the support of St. Barbara's Altar Guild
for the church and the community.
"If they see a need, they act on it," the priest said. "For example,
they learned about a family outside the parish that needed a van. The
guild raised $1,000 for them without expecting anything in return."
The parishioners are well-known for baking Baba's Pascha during the
Easter season and nut rolls at Christmas time.
The church was in the news spotlight a number of years ago, when
Father Kluchko walked in to prepare for a memorial service and
noticed oil dropping from the face of the icon of the Theotokos
(Mother of God).
The "weeping icon" was visited by hundreds of people during the
period of three weeks when the oil was visible.
The Kluchkos will reside in Bridgeville in their retirement.
But first, they'll spend several weeks in Kiev, Ukraine, visiting
their son and daughter-in-law, Luke and Oksana. Luke is on a
three-year assignment in Kiev for the U.S. Defense Department.
This will give the Kluchkos a chance to meet their new twin
grandchildren, Emily and Michael, born in October. Luke and Oksana
also have a daughter, Marianna, 5.
The Kluchkos' daughter and son-in-law, Kyra and Egor Panchenko, live
in New Jersey. They have a son, Dmitri, 2.
Their other daughter and son-in-law, Melanie and John Noble, also
reside in New Jersey with their two children, Brendan, 7, and Aiden, 3.
As our interview ended, Father Kluchko offered these words of wisdom:
"Life is unpredictable. Use the day well."