St. Nicholas Orthodox Church (OCA)
67 Saratoga Street
Cohoes, NY 12047
The History of Our Parish
Russian Concert, June 1952 (from l to r) Pauline Kondrat, Anne Kondrat, Mary Kobylar, Dorothy Godfrey, Ann Geleta, Tessie Guba, Dorothy Kondrat, Mary Kondrat
Russian Concert, June 1952 (from l to r) Pauline Kondrat, Anne Kondrat, Mary Kobylar, Dorothy Godfrey, Ann Geleta, Tessie Guba, Dorothy Kondrat, Mary Kondrat
Russian Concert, June 1952 (from l to r) Pauline Kondrat, Anne Kondrat, Mary Kobylar, Dorothy Godfrey, Ann Geleta, Tessie Guba, Dorothy Kondrat, Mary Kondrat

Our Story




In 1904, the beginnings of St. Nicholas parish began at Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church. Soon after the establishment of that parish the members decided they would become Greek Catholic. This decision was not unanimous and  families such as the Gregas, Kopchas and Gubas felt alienated from their Orthodox roots.


In 1908, in Cohoes a branch of the Russian Brotherhood Organization of America already existed at Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic Church. In a few years, this group took the name of St. Basil the Great, and many of our people joined. They began to feel their own identity as Russian Orthodox, and they dreamed of their own Orthodox church and parish. Many years would pass before this dream could materialize.


In 1910, independent of the brotherhood movement, our people organized a "Reading Society" in memory of Michael Kachlovsky. This Society met in the home of an elder parishioner at 14 Sargent Street. It was there, within the Reading Society, that a strong movement developed to establish an Orthodox parish in Cohoes. This society proved to be the noble seed from which grew the powerful tree of our glorious St. Nicholas Orthodox Church and parish. The Reading Society was often visited by the late Very Reverend Michael Fekula, whose recommendations and advice were of great value.


In 1913, out of the membership of the Reading Society, the Brotherhood of St. Archdeacon Stephen was organized (Chapter #148, of the Russian Orthodox Catholic Mutual Aid Society, Wilkes-Barre, PA). On January 4, 1914, the members of the Reading Society and the newly formed Brotherhood of St. Archdeacon Stephen passed a resolution to request that Metropolitan Platon, Bishop of the American Mission Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, send a priest to Cohoes to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.


The first Divine Liturgy in Cohoes was celebrated by Fr. Peter Kohanik on January 18, 1914, in the hall of the Manufacturers Bank building on Remsen Street. The large attendance at this first service provided faith, hope, and moral strength with which to continue in the efforts of establishing a parish. In the latter part of 1914, the members of the Brotherhood of St. Archdeacon Stephen, the Brotherhood of St. Basil the Great, and the Reading Society all met and resolved to establish their own Russian Orthodox Parish; it was further resolved to petition Metropolitan Platon to assign them a permanent priest. The request was granted and Fr. Paul Filipovsky was appointed Rector. A hall in the Buchanan Bank Building was rented where services could be conducted. During this time, the Sisterhood of the Protection of the Holy Virgin was organized.


Soon after this, property at 65-69 Saratoga Street was purchased for $7,000.  In the Spring of 1915, construction of a church was begun. This was a modest structure that was erected by the parishioners themselves in three months. By July services were already being held in the new building. Within a year, Archbishop Evdokim was invited to dedicate the church in memory of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. The rector at this time was Fr. Peter Karel.


Since those early years, the following have all served St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Cohoes,

New York, as Pastors and as Presidents of the Parish Council.
1914-1915 Rev. Paul Filipovsky
1915-1916 Rev. Peter Kard
1916-1917 Rev. Gregory Varhol
1917- Rev. Nikita Borisoff.
1917- Rev. Paul Raskazoff
1917-1920 Rev. Kosma Gorbacheff
1920-1924 Rev. Theodore Chepelell
1924-1925 Rev. Igumen F. Kulehitsky
1925-1928 Rev. Vladimir Shymansky
1928-1931 Rev. John Krochmalny
1931-1934 Rev. Gregory Stefchak
1934-1936 Rev. Constantine Kulmatisky
1936-1937 Rev. Basil Stroyen
1937-1938 Rev. Gregory Popoff.
1938-1949 Rev. Theodore Kiryluk
1949-1961 Rev. Eugene Serebrennikoll
1961-1963 Rev. Leo Silkin
1963-1978 Rev. Paul J. Pascavage
1979-1988 Rev. Igor Burdikofl.
1988-1991 Rev. Jacob Kulp
1991-1995 Rev. Alvian Smirensky
1995-2001;  2005; 2007 Rev. Daniel Pavelchak
2001-2005 Rev. Roman Shak
2005-2007 Rev. Daniel Pavelchak
2006-2007 Rev. Yaroslav Stebelsky
2008 to present Rev. Terenti Wasielewski
1914-1916 Elias Barna
1916-1917 Timothy Filiak
1917-1918 Ignaty Serbalik
1918; 1925 Peter Renchovsky
1919 Stephen Smi
1920 Joseph Nystoriak
1921 Luka Patrician
1922; 1939 Isidore Bishop
1923 Luka Patrician
1924 Alexander P. Grega
1926 Rev. Vladimir Shymansky
1927 Luka Patrician
1928-1931 John Kopcha
1932 Philip Shevchik
1933; 1937 Anthony Geleta
1934-1935; 1938 Alexis Walke
1936; 1942 Joseph Shewczyk
1940 George Goncharuk
1941 Theodore Shevchik
1943 Philip Yakimuk
1944 Dimitri Wasenko
1945-1952; 1962-1964 John Guba, Sr.
1953-1954 John Wasenko
1955 Peter A.Geleta
1956-1958 John Walke, Sr.
1959-1961 Theodosius Geleta
1965 Stephen Mack, Sr.
1966-1968 Stephen Maeyowski, Sr.
1969 Edward Oreshan
1970-1974; 1988; Peter J.Geleta
1992-1993 Peter J.Geleta
1975-1977; 1979-1981; 1990-1991 John Guba, Jr.
1978 John Rinke
1982-1984 Nadja (Cherniak) Stroyan
1985-1986; 2012 Tessie (Guba) Campana
1987 Richard Luby
1989 Angelica Pregon
1994-2006 Joseph Talar
2007-2011 Victoria Serbalik
2013-2020 Gregory Walko
2021-Present Barbara Gerzonich

In 1925, under the unique guidance of Fr. Vladimir Shymansky, the sum of $650 was allocated from the treasury of the Carpatho Russian Club, and a concrete block hall was erected. In 1926, Fr. Shymansky served the parish, not only as Rector but also as President. (Long after having left St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, in 1963, our own Fr. Vladimir was elevated to the episcopate as "Bishop Peter." Unfortunately, his episcopacy was short-lived, only three months.)

In 1928, with Father John Krochmalny as Rector, another milestone was reached. A parish cemetery was acquired, on Rt. 9, in Boght Corners. There have been many improvements on the cemetery property: a chapel has been built there, and much work has been done in landscaping.

In 1930, a Russian Youth Club was organized and affiliated itself with the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs. It has always been known as the Cohoes "R" Club, Chapter #57. Members of the "R" Club are engaged in various church activities, and many of them are members of the Parish Council and the Choir. The "R" Club has made many contributions to the church:  stained glass window in the front of the church, tables and chairs for Sunday School classes, and a candelabra for the Altar, are just a few among the many contriburtions.

In 1935, while Father Kulmatitsky was Pastor, a collection of funds was started for a new church building. A new and larger edifice was necessary. Two years later a Building Fund Committee was elected: Peter A. Geleta, John Walco, Sr. and Dimitri Wattsman. Once construction was underway, Stephen Macyowskie, Sr. was added to the committee. Raising of funds continued until the arrival of Fr. Theodore Kiryluk in December 1938. Together with members of the Building Committee,  he visited the homes of the parishioners, and in the summer of 1941 it was decided to start erecting a new church. Work was started on dismantling the old church in September 1941, with parishioners doing most of the work themselves.

In the midst of construction, a new test was put before the parishioners. The building contractor went bankrupt, making it necessary for the parishioners themselves to complete construction. Only God knows of the anxiety, troubles, and distress that fell upon the shoulders of Fr. Kiryluk and his small group of co-workers--the Building Committee. Also, building materials were becoming increasingly scarce due to World War II, and funds were not too plentiful. However, God's work did not cease, and construction was successfully completed. Standing today is a magnificent Temple of God, with five cupolas, each surmounted by the Holy Orthodox Cross.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church is an impressive edifice, built of yellow tapestry brick. The huge stained glass windows, with icons of Russian Style, were donated by church organizations as well as individual parishioners and their families and friends. A new iconostasis was also needed. A pious woman from our parish took it upon herself to journey to Yonkers, New York, where a new iconostasis was being installed, and asked the parishioners there to sell their old iconostasis to our parish. The generous parishioners of Holy Trinity Church, Yonkers, made an outright donation of the iconostasis to our parish, for which our parishioners are deeply grateful. The woman responsible for the acquisition of the iconostasis also paid the cost of transporting it to Cohoes. During the period of construction, services were conducted at the G & G Potato Chip Company on Saratoga and Ontario Streets, where the Orthodox Christian Association was then located.

By Thanksgiving Day 1943, building had progressed to the point that services could be held there for the first time. After eight years of struggle and many adversities overcome by faith and tenacity, the members of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church gave thanks to God for sustaining and rewarding their work together. Fr. Kiryluk, along with neighboring clergy, served the first Divine Liturgy on that day.

Honor and praise are due all the founders, contributors, and parishioners for their labors and donations which erected our marvelous church building. For his untiring, continuous, and boundless efforts, which furthered the realization of a new church, much deserved honor and praise are accorded to the late, Very Reverend Theodore Kiryluk. We bow our heads, in memory and gratitude, before his untimely grave. May his memory be eternal!

In 1948, a Junior Division of the Cohoes "R" Club was formed. "The Juniors" help out at Church affairs and make contributions to the Church, such as a stainless steel bulletin board purchased as a result of their efforts.

In September 1949, the Very Reverend Eugene Serebrennikoff conducted his first Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas OrthodoxChurch. One of his first accomplishments was the establishment of a regular Russian School. He had approximately 60 pupils in attendance regularly. They received religious instructions and were taught the Russian language.

Fr. Eugene was an experienced choirmaster with a great appreciation for Church Choral music. He devoted many hours at choir rehearsals, and the beauty of the singing at Divine Liturgy gave evidence of the progress made by the choir. Members of the choir organized a "Choir Circle," and then had a membership of approximately 40 persons.

During the 1950's many side paintings were donated by parishioners. On the women's side (north side) starting from the iconstasis and working back: Protection (Pokrov) donated by Anna and Stephan Matala, Transfiguration donated by Arkim Danisuk and John Kravchuk, Sts. Vladimir and Olga, donated by John and Anna Guba and Family, Christ in the Garden donated by the Washenko Family. On the men's side (south side) starting from the iconostatis and working back: St. George donated by William Sr., William Jr., Allan and George Hodges, ? donated by Mefodi and Maxim Sevchik, Terenti Kovachuk and ? Gadamshuk, Sts. Cyril and Methodius donated by Stefan and Ann Matsyovsky (Macy, St. Demetrius donated by John and Ellen Guba. The ceiling was adorned with paintings of angels, The Trinity, Crucifixion, etc. They were not signed and were attributed to Matushka Sereberenikoff. (These paintings were taken down in August 2013  and replaced with traditional icons.)

Mention must be made of Anthony A. Geleta. From the founding of our parish, not only did he serve in the capacity of choir director and psalmist, but he served as president and secretary of the Parish Council on more than one occasion. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees for many years. Memory eternal!  Following in the footsteps of his father, Peter A. Geleta served the parish as choir director for many years. Following Peter was his son Ronald until 1988.

Special recognition should also be accorded to Matushka Serebrennikoff for her untiring efforts in the Ladies Altar Guild.  Fr. Eugene and Matushka were responsible for the organization of the Guild. In a comparatively short time the Altar Guild donated many valuable gifts to the church: numerous sets of vestments for the priest and altar boys, urns for the Holy Water, a Processional Cross, a Plaschanitza, and seven-day candle stand are but a few of the gifts donated. Most recently, the Altar Guild donated all of the funds needed for the interior painting of the church.

In 1952, a Sunday School was instituted by Fr. Eugene, whereby children received instructions in catechism and prayers. When the Sunday School was first instituted, the "R" Club donated all of the Sunday School material that were necessary.  Also, many "R" Club members served as Sunday School teachers.

In 1952, a group of parishioners banded together and formed an organization which was later incorporated and was known as the Orthodox Christian Association. The facilities of "the Club" were always available for all church sponsored functions. The "OCA" has donated thousands of dollars to the church, in funds and gifts, including the Altar table and Table of Oblation, gold icon frames, and the Terapod along with its candelabra.

In 1954, as the result of continuous support by the parishioners, wise and capable administration by the Parish Council (of which John Wasenko was then president) and working with the full cooperation of Fr. Eugene Serebrennikoff, the outstanding debt for the building of the new church was paid off. The hall under the church was finished, repairs to the cemetery and parish property were made, the interior of the church was painted, and new pews were installed.

On September 19, 1954, at the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Cohoes, the new church was consecrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Leonty. The project that had begun with the collection of funds in 1935 was completed, after almost twenty years of work and sacrifice to the Glory of God.

Quite active in parish affairs was a one-woman institution of long-standing service by the name of Mrs. Mary White. She too was one of the shining stars of our parish history. (Mrs. White passed in July 2001.  May her memory be eternal.)

In 1963, property across the street from the church was purchased for a parking lot, a temporary rectory was purchased at 32 Elizabeth Court, and the old rectory and hall were torn down. In July of the following year, construction of a new rectory (north side of church building) was begun with John Walco as Chairman of the Building Committee. Once again, before the building was completed, the construction company went into bankruptcy! Alexander Oreshan was hired to complete the project. In September 1967, Metropolitan Ireney blessed the new parish home after a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy.

Fr. Paul Pascavage, then pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, was singularly honored by Metropolitan Ireney on that occasion. Only five years after his ordination he was presented with the "Kamilavka" an honor ordinarily reserved for priests of three or four times his years of service to God as a priest. More than a decade would follow until Fr. Paul fell asleep in the Lord in 1978, much beloved and still mourned by the flock he had long guided with kindness and understanding.

In 1973, eight acres were purchased (top, south side) at the Cemetery property in Boght Corners, with an eye toward the possible future needs of the parish. With proposal of Interstate Arterial 787, and during its actual construction, it long seemed that relocation of our church building was essential and coming soon. Once actual construction was nearly complete, though, our actual circumstances at 67 Saratoga Street had, unexpectedly, been improved. Popular support for relocation evaporated overnight, and commitment to repair and restore began to develop. Certain members of the church left and formed what is today Christ the Savior, Ballston Spa, New York.

In commemoration of our 75th Anniversary in 1989, the interior of the church was repainted by donation of the Altar Guild. The Parish Council had the woodwork of the church and rectory repainted. New carpet was installed in the Vestibule, and the cupolas were repaired and painted.

In 1991, the domes on the church were repaired and painted blue during the time of Fr. Jacob Kulp. Originally they were silver-colored. During this time the façade of the church was cracked. New masonry was provided to insure a sound structure.  Shortly thereafter, under the leadership of Fr. Daniel Pavelchak donations for new icons came forth. The icons of the Resurrection, St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, St. Herman of Alaska and St. Innocent of Irkusk were installed behind the altar. St. Nicholas, Sts. Peter and Paul and the Holy Unmercenaries were installed on the back walls. Eight new American saints were installed on the upper walls. Bishop Peter blessed the new icons which were painted by Nicholas Bobrovsky from Pittsfield, MA.

Around 1994, Peter Geleta, the parish’s president, suffered a stroke and could not continue. Joseph Talar became president and remained president until his retirement in 2008 to sunny California.

In 1997, the property was purchased adjacent to the south side of the church. The house was demolished and plans were made to build a hall.

Ms. Victoria Serbalik assumed the presidency in 2008.  On January 27, 2008 our deacon, Fr. Terenti Wasielewski, was ordained to the priesthood and now serves as our priest. Committees were set up for bylaw changes and relocation of the church to the cemetery. New bylaws were adopted, and the  decision to remain at 67 Saratoga Street was determined to be the best route due to costs for a new church.

In July 2012, Gregory Walko became president. Plans were underway for a 100 year celebration. Cupolas were painted deep blue. The interior of the church was repainted, new carpeting was installed, air conditioning was in place, a new carillon bell system was purchased. The old icons were replaced with newly painted traditional Byzantine iconography by the Albanian iconographer Efthimios Stoja. 


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