Filed Under Religion

Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church

Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church opened in Tremont in 1910 to serve Rusin (also spelled Rusyn) immigrants from Central Europe. Rusins (not to be confused with Russians) are a Slavic ethnic group with a distinct language and culture. They hailed from the Carpathian Mountains in east Slovakia, west Ukraine, southeast Poland and the northern tip of Romania. The Byzantine Catholicism that many Rusins practice originated with the successful efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to convert the Eastern Orthodox peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Rusins first immigrated to the Hungarian community on Cleveland’s east side in the 1890s and later to Tremont—often working in the steel mills and other industries that dotted the Flats. By 1909, two Greek Catholic churches (they weren't referred to as "Byzantine" until the mid-20th century) had been built in Cleveland, but most parishioners had to travel across the Cuyahoga River and the railroad track to attend liturgies on Sundays and holy days. To meet the growing parish’s needs, Holy Ghost Greek Catholic (now called Byzantine Catholic) Church was granted a charter by the state of Ohio on October 8, 1909. When it opened the next year, Holy Ghost—built for a cost of $15,000—was the first Byzantine Catholic church on the city's west side. Within ten years, parish families numbered 400. Around that time, an orphanage was established to provide for victims of the great influenza epidemic. Holy Ghost also became the first U. S. Home for the Sisters of St. Basil the Great, who staffed the orphanage until its closing in 1923.

By 1938, Holy Ghost had grown to nearly nine hundred families and some 150 of these formed St. Mary Church on West 35th St., now State Road and Biddulph Avenue. Some 3,000 souls were nurtured by Holy Ghost at the time of its Golden Jubilee celebration in 1959, but the changing neighborhood and exodus of many parishioners to the suburbs were beginning to take their toll. The church closed in 2009.


Holy Ghost, 1949 Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Icon Screen Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Christmas at Holy Ghost, 1942 Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Convent Home This house served as the convent home for Holy Ghost's nuns. Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Holy Ghost, 2009 This image shows Holy Ghost Church during the summer of 2009, mere months before it held its final service. Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities
Rusin Heritage, 1929 Young women from Cleveland's Rusin community wear traditional ethnic dress, 1929. Rusins came to Cleveland from the Carpathian Mountain region of Central Europe, an area that today is encompassed by the territory of Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. They are similar ethnically to Ukrainians and other eastern Slavic peoples but maintain their status as a distinct ethnic group. Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Rusin Heritage, 1929 Rusin-Americans wear ethnic dress in Cleveland Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Lemko Hall, 1973 Lemko Hall is located in Tremont at 2337 West 11th Street at the corner of Literary Avenue. Lemkos came to Cleveland from Lemkovyna on the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains and are part of the Rusin ethnic group. The building opened in 1910 as a saloon and became home to the Lemko Association in 1946. At the time, Cleveland was home to one of the largest Lemko communities in the nation. Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections


2420 W 14th St, Cleveland, OH 44113


Michael Rotman, “Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church,” Cleveland Historical, accessed November 28, 2023,