Established in 1951, Saints Peter and Paul Church is one of the oldest Eastern Orthodox parishes in South Florida.
Our first service was held at the downtown YMCA on December 19, 1951 with the V. Rev. Cornelius Svigoon officiating. Fr. Svigoon served without pay for the first six weeks, consented to serve for $60 per month for January and February 1952, and from then on accepted $80 per month with increases as financial status warranted.
Fr. Svigoon later negotiated and acquired the use of the Ada Merritt Jr. High School Auditorium for a regular Sunday morning service at a very nominal fee. Pledges were asked for, received, and the church was able to purchase the necessary sacred items and build up the treasury.
Using a public school auditorium for church services had many difficulties, such as setting up the altar on the stage, getting everything ready for Sunday morning, and then dismantling and removing everything immediately after the service to make way for the school's use during the week.
Another problem was where to serve on our two main holidays. We could use the school only on Sundays, but what were we to do for Christmas and Easter? The Episcopal Church was always willing to help, particularly Holy Cross.
We were constantly on the lookout for a proper place to establish our own church. In August 1954 attention was called to a mansion located at 1411 S.W. 11 Street. The mansion was originally built in 1927 for John Bernard Reilly - the first elected mayor of Miami. With the purchase of the property in the fall of 1954, we then adopted and recorded our charter in November 1954, by-laws were in place December 1959 and in 1957 the Sunday School was established with 20 children enrolled. On November 20, 1960, the property was paid for and a "Burning of the Mortgage" banquet was held.
Rev. Svigoon retired in June 1958 and his place was filled by the Right Rev. Archimandrite Job Radziwill.
March of 1964 brought to us the V. Rev. Fr. Theodore Soroka and Matushka Sophia (Hubiak). Born in Belle Vernon, PA and a graduate of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Fr. Theodore had served parishes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. Having served Saints Peter and Paul Church for thirty-one years, Fr. Theodore retired in 1995, but continued to worship with us until he fell asleep in the Lord on February 8, 2012. Matushka Sophia continued to be a vital part of our parish until she moved back to Belle Vernon (May 2012). On July 1, 2012, Matushka Sophia peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. Having served the Orthodox Church faithfully for all their lives, Fr. Ted and Mat. Sophie will be remembered with great love and appreciation for their untiring work in the Lord's vineyard.
Protodeacon Nicholas Fedak was ordained to the diaconate in 1989 and was elevated to Protodeacon on June 9, 1996. He faithfully served the Church, assisting with all services and contributing to the well-being of our community. Our dear Protodeacon Nicholas fell asleep in the Lord on October 6, 2009.
After Fr. Theodore's retirement, the V. Rev. Pavel Soucek and Matushka Paula joined us for a few years before transferring to Pennsylvania. Fr. Pavel fell asleep in the Lord on January 15, 2009 in Old Forge, PA. The V. Rev. Michael Sekela became the pastor and was with us from June 1999 to February 2002.
The V. Rev. James Mason travelled from Port St. Lucie on weekends for several months in order to faithfully serve Saints Peter and Paul, while we awaited a permanently assigned priest. He was a great blessing for our community!
The V. Rev. Alexander Padlo came to us from the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania in November, 2002, ministering to the needs of the faithful in the Miami area. Fr. Alexander, a man of prayer and great faith, retired at the end of October, 2016 after tirelessly serving our community for 14 years. Fr. Alexander moved to Lake Worth, FL , participating in the daily life of the parish of St. Herman of Alaska. Fr. Alexander fell asleep in the Lord on August 2, 2022. Memory eternal!
While awaiting a new pastoral assignment, we have been faithfully served by the clergy from Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Miami Lakes and from other local Orthodox clergy in South Florida. After the Feast of Pentecost 2018, Fr. Philip Reese, now retired rector of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, was assigned to serve as the interim priest-in-charge for our parish. He continued in this role until May 2023. Presently, our parish is overseen by our regional Dean, Fr. Joseph Lucas, and clergy from the area assist with services.
Saints Peter and Paul Church has served the Orthodox Community in South Florida for over 70 years, and we pray for God’s guidance and blessings for our future generations.
Memory Eternal to all our clergy, founders, parishioners, and friends who have fallen asleep in the Lord.
Many years to all who have supported and continue to support and join us in worship.