St. Mary’s Cemetery Association of Ganister

As many of you know, I’m very involved and interested in my family’s roots in Ganister. But most of those roots are now buried in the ground at the cemetery of the former St. Mary’s Church, which I try to visit at least once a year.

St. Mary's Cemetery, ca. April 2016
A photo of St. Mary’s Cemetery I took in April 2016.

Ron Skvir asked me to share an invitation a new association dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of the cemetery. I am copying his letter below, contact info for those interested in joining is at letter’s end.

The Letter

Dear Friend of St. Mary’s, 

You’re invited to become a member of a new organization called St. Mary’s Cemetery Association of Ganister.  Membership is completely without cost or obligation.

Perhaps you were once a member or have relatives buried here.  Whatever your connection, you’re a potential stakeholder with interest in seeing the property maintained in a dignified manner befitting the church’s 94-year history.

The final Liturgy was held at St. Mary’s in November 2010.  During the six years that followed, the contents of the building were gradually distributed to other Orthodox parishes and institutions, while efforts to sell the building itself continued. 

The building finally sold in July 2016.  When the proceeds were combined with the contents of the old “cemetery fund”, the sum of $34,0000 became available to support perpetual c are, and that money was placed in conservative investments through a financial advisor.  Ideally, it will grow to the point that the dividends alone will eventually support all upkeep, without the need to touch the principle.

Money alone was of no use without somebody to administer it, and the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania was not structured to perform that function.  In addition, St. Mary’s Orthodox Church continued to be a legal entity on paper only, chartered as a 501C (3) non-profit corporation with the state.

The long-term solution was to form a new secular entity, completely independent of the Orthodox Church in America, with responsibility to handle perpetual care of the cemetery.  That step has been taken.  The former church charter was amended in July 2017 to create St. Mary’s Cemetery Association of Ganister. 

The current officers of the Association are President  John Carrol, Vice President Larry Skvir, and Secretary/Treasurer Ron Skvir.

If interested in membership, e-mail ronskvir@aol.com or call 814-381-9137.

3 thoughts on “St. Mary’s Cemetery Association of Ganister”

  1. my name is scott imler and live in ganister..my family is verbontz yutishon krajacik …my grandmother is Catherine fitzingo she is 92 and still living here that we are taking care of her..My grandfather is buried in the cemetary..I would b honored to join and help with the cemetary, I’ve been trying to get more info on this area to further educate rails to trails people asking quistions..we live at head of rails to trails..I new the Joe and he left us kids hunt up in his fields..I would like info on joining or what I could do to help preserve the history of my family..thank you for your time and hopefully hear from you..

    1. Scott, that’s great to hear and Ron would love to hear from you, I’m sure. And if you’re interested in the history of the area, this is the right place to be. I’m trying to collect and document that history. I’ve also been doing a bit of genealogical research into some of the Carpatho-Rusyn families that settled in the area.

    2. Hi Scott I’m Brendan’s mother Nancy Barry.Granddaughter of Mike and Mary Wapner who lived in Ganister. Their house was the one with the spring across the dirt road. We usually go up for Orthodox Easter in Altoona. We usually stop by the cemetery and drive thru Ganister. Although with Covid we haven’t gone the last 2 years. But next time would like to meet you.

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