LIFE OF OUR HOLY FATHER EMILIAN
A NEW SPIRITUAL HOME
INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM
LIFE OF OUR HOLY FATHER EMILIAN
Our Holy Father Emilian was bishop of the Island Cyzikos in the Marmara
Sea in Turkey from 813- 820. He lived during the reign of Leo the
Armenian who was Emperor from 813-820. The Emperor Leo, not a devout
man, had no regard for the truth or the orthodox faith. The Emperor,
deceived by political gain and the evil one was impressed by the
military luck of the iconoclastic emperors. In 814 he asked St.
Nicephorus Patriarch of Constantinople to call a council to reaffirm the
already condemned teachings of the iconoclasts.
St Nicephorus invited Our Holy Father Emilian along with St. Euthymius,
bishop of Sardis, St. Joseph, Bishop of Thessalonica, St Michael bishop
of Synnada, Theophylact Bishop of Nicomedia along with St. Theodore the
studite and 270 monks including St. Lazarus the iconographer to meet
with the emperor to discuss the matter.
During the meeting the Emperor Leo asked the bishops to no longer teach
the veneration of the holy icons and directed the bishops to remove all
icons from the churches. The Emperor did not use threats but earnestly
asked the Bishops to agree with him in this matter for the peace of the
Church. Our Holy Father Emilian was the first to speak on behalf of the
Church at the meeting. He informed the Emperor that the question of the
veneration of the holy icons ought to be discussed and decided only
within the Church by spiritual leaders, and not by the imperial court.
Our Holy Father Emilian saw that the truth could not be sacrificed for
the sake of peace. And the teachings of the Church were not subject to
political gain. The meeting was never completed. This began the second
wave of persecution of the iconoclasm. The patriarch saw the immediate
limiting of his powers. The Emperor ordered all icons to be removed from
the churches and the bishops were forbidden to teach the veneration of
the holy icons. Our Holy Father Emilian along with the other bishops
refused to carry out the edicts of the Emperor. A year later in 815, Our
Holy Father Emilian was exiled and imprisoned along with the other
bishops. Many of the monks were also imprisoned or fled to the
protection of the Bishop of Rome.
While Our Holy Father Emilian was in exile he was moved from prison to
prison. A blasphemy was burned into the flesh on his forehead by a
heated iron. His beatings were so sever that his flesh was rotting on
his body. Finally on the 8th of August in the year 820, after enduring
five years of beating and humiliations for the sake of Christ, Our Holy
Father Emilian joined the company of the citizens of heaven.
"The Divine Liturgy was offered for the first
time in the Rooms of the First National Bank,
in Brunswick, Ohio, on January 5, 1975
at 10 o’clock in the morning, by
/s/ Emil J. Mihalik
Bishop of Parma"
This inscription by Bishop Emil Mihalik within the Liturgicon on The
Altar marked the beginning of St. Emilian Byzantine Catholic Church.
In the late 1960's and 1970's, Byzantine Catholics in the Cleveland area
were moving farther south to the Southwestern suburbs of Brunswick,
Strongsville and Medina. However, these suburbs did not have a Byzantine
Church serving the area. On September 4, 1974 former members of St. Mary
Byzantine Catholic Church in Cleveland, and Holy Spirit Byzantine
Catholic Church and The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma who
now called the Brunswick area home were contacted to take part in the
formation of a Byzantine Church. On September 11, an organizational
meeting was held at Edwards Middle School to form the "Brunswick
Byzantine Mission" to provide a place for area Byzantine Catholic
residents to worship and pray.
The project was overseen by Bishop Emil Mihalik, Msgr. Joseph Bodnar,
Vicar General, and other interested parishioners. For the first two
and-a-half years, 120 parishioners gathered each Sunday in the basement
of First National Bank. The newly ordained Father Donald Petyo was named
pastor. In worship as cantors, John Marushin and David Demko led the
congregation while William Strippy, Andrew Washlock Jr., Nicholas
Yadlovsky, Robert Long and
Nicholas Kozik served as Committeemen advising the pastor on the
parish's financial administration.
At a February 9, 1975 meeting of 50 parishioners, the parish patron
saint was adopted. St. Emilian, the Bishop-Confessor who fearlessly
denounced the iconoclasts, was imprisoned and tortured by Emperor Leo
the Armenian and died in exile in 820. His Feast Day is celebrated on
During the two years that followed, a litany of religious, social and
fundraising affairs followed. As the parish grew, parishioners looked
for a permanent place to call home. In January 1976 with the help of St.
Mary Parish in Cleveland and a Mission Gift from the Eparchy of Parma
the present 10 1/2 acre site on Substation Road was purchased. For the
next 24 years our current parish hall served as both our spiritual home
and activity center.
With additional support from St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church,
Marblehead, Ohio and St. Gregory Byzantine Catholic Church, Lakewood,
Ohio, plans were set into motion to build a new church. The parish
coordinators along with Fr. John Keblesh designing the new church,
enlisted the help of Architect Stephen Gaspar of Gaspar and Associates
of Lakewood. Eikona Studios of Cleveland was chosen for interior design
and iconography while Lakeland Management Systems, Inc. of Mentor
oversaw day-to-day construction.
On November 28, 1998 The Most Reverend Basil M. Schott, O.F.M., D.D.,
Bishop of Parma joined Fr. John and Nicholas Lizanich, building
coordinator, for ground breaking ceremonies. More than 200 parishioners
and supporters of the church were in attendance for the picture perfect
day. Once the soil was turned, the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God
was celebrated. The day concluded with fellowship and an hors d'oeuvres
reception by Verba's Catering in the church-hall complex.
With site clearing completed and the footers poured, construction was
underway before a Cleveland winter could stall the project. The new
church featured 7500 square feet with seating for 250 people. The brick
exterior features a mosaic imported from Italy of St. Emilian. Sitting
atop the roof are three onion domes in the usual Slavic-style
architecture. The altar, preparation tables and tetrapod were donated by
St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Lorain, and the pews were
donated from St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville.
As construction crews put the finishing touches on the new church, the
parish continued to grow as a spiritual community of love and concern
for each other and those less fortunate.
A NEW SPIRITUAL HOME
On August 8, 1999 the parish was ready to call the new church home even
though the interior was incomplete. On the feast of St. Emilian, the
congregation welcomed Bishop Basil Schott to consecrate and dedicate the
new house of worship. More than 250 parishioners and church supporters
gathered to watch the bishop bless the outside four corners of the
church then proceed inside for the washing of the altar and the laying
of the altar cloths. The congregation then celebrated a Hierarchical
Divine Liturgy. Afterward, all celebrated with an hors d'oeuvres
reception prepared by Verba's Catering in the church hall.
Through the remainder of 1999 until November 2000 iconography was
steadily being added. One of the first icons to be installed was Christ
the Pantocrator on February 6. From that point and almost monthly, the
church was transformed with the installation of each new “window into
heaven”. Parishioners watched in awe as their new home unfolded before
their very eyes.
In August 2000 the church was adorned with three golden domes or "cebbullas"
(onions - because of onion shape) atop the church. They were
manufactured by Architectural Fiberglass, Inc. of Cleveland and blessed
by Bishop Basil Schott at a ceremony on August 24, 2000.
As the inside continued to take shape, only one exterior feature
remained to be completed - the mosaic of St. Emilian. In late October of
this year, the glass tiled depiction of the church patron saint made its
way from artists in Italy. After two days of installation, St. Emilian
was all aglow to those passing by on Substation Road. The remaining
icons were added in time for blessing at the 25th Anniversary
INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM
As with every parish community there are times for joy and times when we
have to say goodbye to someone we really love This was the case
when in April of 2003 we lost our young priest Fr. John Keblesh at the
age of 37. Despite the fact that the parish was shaken during this
great loss, it remained strong in spirit and continued to pray, play and
work together and looked forward towards the bright future.
In 2005, our parish of St. Emilian was blessed to welcome a married priest,
Reverend Marek Visnovsky and his family. Father Marek became the
first married priest in the Byzantine Metropolia in 75 years.
Under the direction and leadership of Father Marek Visnovsky, the parish
Finance Council and the Parish Council many new programs were started
since 2005. These include lectures on iconography, week long hands
on demonstration icon classes, pysanky (easter eggs decorations)
classes, bible studies, Slavonic liturgies followed by paprikash dinners
and fellowship, Heaven on Earth presentations, Akathist Hymns along with
short talks, Moleben (prayer with supplications), continuing education
for our children (ECF - Sunday School), talks to visitors from Roman
Catholic Churches, annual lectures on Christian Iconography and its
origins, spirituality, theology and symbolism to St. Ignatius High
School students, annual Christmas retreats and hosting of "mid-lent day
of reflection" for teenagers.
The parish community welcomed Cub Scout Pack 3515 into its community by granting them use of our church hall.
They are active in many community outreach programs in the surrounding area.
In 2007, our parish was able to put together a
remodeling project for our church hall. Since the remodeling has
been completed, the church hall and the grounds have been rented by the
day or the hour by members of the surrounding communities for weddings,
graduation parties, baptism celebrations, organizational meetings and
picnics, family reunions and business meetings.
In 2008 a parish website was created with our own domain
Our website not only informs people of our presence in the community but
provides important information regarding parish worship. It also
provides information regarding our outreach programs, upcoming events,
information on our hall rental and our sales of homemade ethnic foods.
In 2009 St. Emilian added videos to our website. These videos
include various parish activities, Divine Liturgies, and Explanations of
the Divine Liturgy and its different parts.
Our parish activities are open to parishioners as well as visitors.
Some of the parish activities which bring us together as a community include a men's
fellowship, ladies' night out, ladies' tea party, our very popular movie
nights, bon fires, walking socials in Cleveland Metroparks,
tobogganing in winter, annual bowling with the parish and an annual golf
outing in memory of our former pastor, Fr. John Keblesh, annual craft
fairs, potluck dinners including a St. Nicolas celebration and our
annual church picnic.
All of these additions have enhanced our expression of our life in Christ at St. Emilian parish.
In 2012 St. Emilian became involved in social media, posting various
articles and photos on Facebook and Twitter and Youtube videos from the
life in our parish. Participation in Facebook and Twitter allowed
our parish family to reach out and welcome many new faces along with
some converts that are very active in our parish community.
Boys and young men of our parish have always participated in our services and
Divine Liturgies as altar servers. But in 2012 the girls and
young ladies of our parish became more active as candle and icon
bearers. We also started posting homilies and sermons online as
well as two minute videos including "Words of Reflection" from Fr.
Marek, as well as his special homilies - preaching to children on a
St. Emilian's outreach programs seem to increase each year and currently include
assistance to individuals and families to purchase groceries, collections of used
prescription eyeglasses, collection of items for the Battered Women's Shelter and
the collection of baby items for young mothers.
We also participate in the Baby Bottle Campaign to support young mothers in Medina
County and we conduct men's clothing drives for St. Herman's House.
We invite local scouts and religious education classes from other parishes along with
their parents to our Divine Liturgy. Every Super Bowl weekend a
collection is taken for the benefit of a local food bank operated by St.
Martin's Catholic Church.
In November and December the parish
adopts two Medina County families and provides groceries, household
products and gifts of clothing and toys for the children. Parish
members gather the Sunday before Christmas to wrap and deliver all of
We support the Hospitality House. Parish
members collect and deliver groceries. Also, every Thanksgiving
dinner is prepared in our kitchen and families bake pies. The
school children and parents then deliver the Thanksgiving dinner to the
Hospitality House and assist in serving meals.
A devoted Deacon
Robert Cripps served the parish of St. Emilian for several years in this
millennium until he was reassigned within the Eparchy. In 2012
Deacon John Petrus was assigned to our parish and is currently serving
in that capacity.
The year of 2015 marks our 40th anniversary as
a parish family praising God within the Byzantine Catholic Tradition in
Brunswick and its surrounding communities. The number 40 is very
significant in the Bible. Noah spent 40 days and 40 nights in the
ark, Moses spent 40 days waiting on the mount for the Tablets of the
Law. The Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert before they
reached the Promised Land. In that period of time, God was not
only testing their faith but He was with them to reach a time of
rejoicing because He was with them through it all. Jesus spent 40
days fasting in the desert and He remained with His disciples for 40
days after His Resurrection.
After 40 years we look forward to
the future by rejoicing and being inspired by Christ and being united in
What wonders will be behold beyond this cloud with a
shimmering "silver" lining? Inspired by God, the parish family of
St. Emilian Byzantine Catholic Church lives on in His Love pinching
pierogies, preparing Thanksgiving Dinner, comforting those in need and
growing in prayer. Our focus lies on that brilliant Light emanating
from the horizon. As silver memories fade to a golden hue, we look
with anticipation upon the moments which lie ahead firmly and
fraternally establishing the "Light of the East in Medina County" as a
"Beacon for the New Millennium".
1975 – 1980 +Fr. Donald Petyo
1980 – 1982 Fr. Nicholas Rachford
1982 – 1986 +Fr. Emil Masich
1986 – 1987 +Fr. John Zolota, S.J.
1987 – 1991 Fr. David Hannes
1991 Fr. Brian St. Germain
1991 – 1995 Fr. David Hannes, Administrator
1995 – 2003 +Fr. John Keblesh
2003 Very Rev. Dr. Bryan Eyman, Administrator
2003 – 2005 Fr. Terrence Farmer, Administrator
2005 – 2015 Fr. Marek Visnovsky
2015 - 2017 Fr. Andrew Nagrant, Administrator
2017 - Present Fr. Jan Cizmar