In 2022, the parish family of St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church festively celebrated 50 Years of Proclaiming the Lord. Attempting to meet the ever-increasing spiritual and pastoral needs of Byzantine Catholics as they moved to the suburban areas of Pittsburgh, Archbishop Stephen Kocisko canonically established St. Stephen Church in North Huntingdon on June 28, 1972.
The property, which includes a church edifice, a parsonage and an educational building, was purchased on July 20, 1972 from the Bethel United Presbyterian Church of Irwin after that congregation was merged with Christ United Presbyterian Church of Irwin. A loan was made to St. Stephen Church for the purchase through the generosity of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in McKeesport. An additional loan for necessary improvements was negotiated with a local bank.
The former Bethel United Presbyterian Church figured prominently in the early history of North Huntingdon. The land for the construction of the church was donated in the early 1880s by one of the earliest settlers of North Huntingdon Township, Humphrey Fullerton IV. After his death in 1885, Fullerton was buried on the church property, as were his two children. On June 30, 1972 the Christ United Presbyterian Church received permission from the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County to exhume the bodies from the yard of Bethel Church and re-inter them in the Long Run Cemetery.
Father Russell Duker was appointed on July 18, 1972 as the organizer and first pastor of the new Byzantine Catholic parish. On August 23, approximately 25 people attended an organizational meeting for prospective St. Stephen parishioners. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated, and with a large attendance the buildings were blessed on August 28. This marked the beginning of a complete schedule of liturgical services for the new congregation.
St. Stephen’s history is a testimonial to great strides of spiritual and material progress. Looking toward the future, the parish family is confident in their continued prosperity and in working for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom.