The St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Catholic Church is located only a few miles from the Delaware River at the hamlet of Glen Spey in Sullivan County, New York. The church was consecrated on July 30, 1967 by His Excellency the Most Rev. Joseph Schmondiuk, Bishop of Stamford, in order to meet the religious needs of the growing population of Ukrainians living in the area. The first pastor at the church was Rev. Stephan Kieparchuk.
The Ukrainian Daily newspaper described the official events of that first day in the new life of the Glen Spey church. “The Church bell rang loud and clear last Sunday, morning, as the faithful gathered around St. Volodymyr's to greet His Excellency, the Bishop. He walked along Таras Shevchenko Blvd. in a procession of priests, veterans of the Ukrainian National Army, and little children dressed in colorful Ukrainian costumes. At the gates, under the bright summer sun, the procession halted. With the traditional Ukrainian welcome of bread, salt and warm words, Rev. Stephan Кіерагchuk, pastor of the newly built Church, and Dr. Hrabarchuk, chairman of the Church building committee, met the Bishop.
A cool breeze stirred the leaves of the mighty oaks. The bell of St. Volodymyr’s carried its wakening message over the hills toward the rippling waters of the Delaware. A blue and yellow flag gently came to life along side the Stars and Stripes. Around the Church made of wood, stood many, many people.
Following the consecration, a High Mass was held in the Church, during which the choir of the Holy Ghost Church of Brooklyn, N.Y., sang . . .
At the conclusion of religious ceremonies, the public enjoyed a picnic on the sprawling grounds of Verchovyna resort. Under towering oaks and stately pines guests sampled varieties of home baked goods and typically Ukrainian foods such аs ругоhy, holubel, etc., prepared by proud hosts of the day, local Ukrainian citizens. The lively music of Mr. Hirniak, kept the picnickers on their toes.
Highlighting the picnic was a short program of Ukrainian dance, song and recital, presented by children from the Verchovyna Youth camp, and prepared by Mrs. Bulba. His Excellency, Bishop Schmondiuk, in a brief speech afterwards, said that he was very impressed by the children, and by the fact that here in Glen Spey they are given the opportunity to absorb Ukrainian culture.” (Baczynsky, Marta. “Ukrainian Church Consecrated in Glen Spey, N.Y.” Ukrainian Daily. August 5, 1967.)
St. Volodymyr Church was designed by architect Apollinaire Osadca (1916-1997) and constructed by master builder George Kostiw. At its consecration, Osadca said the church was “built in the tradition of the wooden church architecture of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains . . . [and] even though it has the style features of the wooden Carpathian churches . . . it is not a copy of any one there.” Osadca, despite having designed many other buildings, described the construction of St. Volodymyr as a “labor of love.” Some of St. Volodymyr’s early congregants described the building as “the most beautiful Ukrainian wooden church in the free world.”
Apollinaire Osadca, the church architect, was born what is now the Ukraine and emigrated to the United States in 1949. Other noted works by Osadca include the Sacred Heart Convent in Astoria, New York (1962), the Ukrainian National Home in Hartford, Connecticut (1965), the Holy Cross Ukrainian Cathedral Church in Astoria, New York (1966), the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Cathedral Church in Passaic, New Jersey (1969) and St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City (1977).
George (Jurij) Kostiw, the church master builder, was trained by experienced carpenters in his native Bojko mountain region of Ukraine. Kostiw also constructed St. John the Baptist Church (1962) at Hunter, New York and the Sacred Heart Ukrainian Catholic Church (1977) at Johnson City, New York.
The hamlet of Glen Spey, where the church is located, takes its name from the Scottish word “glen” for valley, and “spey” for the clear water springs found throughout the area. In the 1940s the area became a popular destination for second home owners of Ukrainian descent, eventually becoming known as “Little Ukraine.” The area is said to have reminded the homeowners of their native homeland, and allowed them to celebrate their faith and heritage without the fear of persecution. The popular Ukrainian Youth Festival for many years attracted thousands of visitors to the small Glen Spey hamlet in Sullivan County. The equally beautiful Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, founded in 1971, can also be found at Glen Spey.
The church takes its name from Saint Volodymyr, who is perhaps better known as Vladimir the Great. Although originally a devout pagan known for his barbarism and immorality, he later converted to Christianity, thereafter having himself and his country baptized into the Orthodox Christian Church. With his conversion, Volodymyr destroyed all the pagan statues that were located within the Kievan Rus, would go on to build a large number of schools, libraries and churches throughout the country and lived in relative peace with his national neighbors. Volodymyr was canonized in the mid-13th century. Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate his feastday on July 15th.