Mayor Marianne Matichuk helped Saints Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church celebrate its 50th anniversary Friday morning with a special proclamation at Tom Davies Square.
The church was consecrated on July 11, 1964. Father John Marjanac, the parish priest, said Serbs first arrived in Sudbury around 90 years ago to work in the mines.
Sudbury's Serbian community has had a church in the city for more than 70 years, but it was Saints Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church that served as a pillar for the community in the early 1960s.
At its peak, Sudbury's Serbian community consisted of around 500 families, mostly in the Donovan area, Marjanac said. Today, around 50 Serbian families have ties to the church, and Marjanac estimates another 10 to 15 Serbian families call Sudbury home.
“The numbers have dwindled throughout the years as the mining industry has slowed down,” he said.
The church remains active in the community, and parishioners are heavily involved with the Sudbury Food Bank and the Donovan Elm West Community Action Network. Every second Friday the church hosts a community dinner and feeds 70 to 80 people for free.
Marjanac, who moved to Sudbury in January, said he was impressed by the pride Sudburians show for their community. He said people often approach him on the street just to say hello or to check in with the Serbian community.
Matichuk declared Friday to be Saints Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church Appreciation Day.
“We’re very proud and honoured that we're getting the recognition that we are this weekend for the 50 years of activity the church has had,” Marjanac said.
Matichuk, who grew up in the Donovan, said she remembers fondly the impact the church had on the community when she was younger.
“This is a church that's really involved in the community,” she said.
The church will continue its 50th celebration over the weekend, and Marjanac said he expects hundreds of Serbs from across Ontario to pay a visit.