The Slovak Catholic Federation was founded by the Reverend Joseph Murgaš, Pastor of Sacred Heart Slovak Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Feb 22, 1911. Its establishment resulted from a meeting of two bishops representing the Dioceses of Scranton, PA and Cleveland, Ohio, 36 priests, and approximately 200 lay people, wishing to unify Slovak Catholics in the United States. The Zdruenie Slovenskych Katolifov, as it is kown in Slovak, became incorporated in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, on Dec 30, 1912.
The story of the Slovak Catholic Federation can be seen in its list of accomplishments. It can also be told in the religious activities of its member societies and local chapters.
Among the first projects of the Federation was to give support to the recently established Congregation of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius and to promote activities for young people. It also promoted the work of the Vincentian Sisters of Charity and the School Sisters of Saint Francis who had recently arrived to the United States to begin their educational apostolates.
Following the First World War, the Federation established its own official publication, Dorby Pastier/The Good Shepherd whose first editor was Monsignor Stephen J. Krasula, P.A., of New York City. It continues today to be a great and valuable source of information and inspiration.
During the ensuing years, the work of the Federation continued to flourish. Local Chapters were established in many Slovak Parishes, with Districts or Regions serving to coordinate the Federations work at the local level.
In the 1950's the Federation faced its greatest challenge when the communist government of Czecho-Slovakia began its persecution of the Church there. Funds were raised by the Federation to support the work of Pontifical Nepomucene College in Rome. The need for a Slovak seminary in Rome was evident and such a project would need the strong support of the Slovak Catholic community in the United States, since the faithful in Slovakia were hampered n their efforts due to communist domination.
The Federation, under the leadership of Bishop Andrew G. Grutka, who became the group's first Episcopal Moderator, inaugurated a drive to raise funds for the new Slovak Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Rome, Italy. The Institure would include a seminary and publishing house. American Catholics responded with traditional generosity and concern for the spiritual needs of Slovaks in their ancestral homeland. The Benedictine Abbey of Saint Andrew Svorad in Cleveland, Ohio, was the first to respond and, with the helpful support of Slovak fraternal societies – the First Catholic Slovak Union, the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association, the Ladies Pennsylvania Slovak Catholic Union and the Slovak Catholic Sokol – the Federation raised the initial money needed for the project.
The Federation continues to support the Pontifical College and Pontifical Institute from funds collected through the annual Saints Cyril and Methodius Appeal. A singnificant portion of the funds collected is donated to the Saints Cyril and Methodius Fund. From that fund, a monthly stipend is sent to the Pontifical College to assist in the general operating expenses of the College. In recent years, those religious communities holding membership in the Conference of Slovak Religious have been receiving a percentage of funding directly from the Appeal for their counterpart religious communities in Slovakia.
With the fall of communism in 1989, a new chapter began in the history of the Slovak Catholic Federation. As in previous years the Slovak Catholic community in the United States and Canada tried to assist the Church in Slovakia as it emerged after years of communist oppression. The Slovak Church Fund was established by the Federation with an office in Danville, Pennsylvania to help support the bishops in Slovakia with the most pressing needs of the Church. Resources in this Fund are still used to help answer special requests for assistance the Federation occasionally receives.
At the 56th National Convention of the Slovak Catholic Federatio, it was mandated that new emphasis and energy be given to the establishment of Local Chapters which will work towards carrying out the Purposes f the Slovak Catholic Federation. (Close)