The Society evolved from a local unofficial Orthodox/Catholic dialogue group. That group began to meet in 1994 at various churches. Led by Richard Mattiussi (Roman Catholic), Father Daniel Rohan (Antiochian Orthodox), and others, the group explored topics such as: Who are Eastern Christians; The Mother of God in the East and West; The Role of Deacons - East and West; Purgatory and the Afterlife, etc.
On February 17, 1998 a meeting was held at Lucianno's Restaurant in Youngstown to explore forming a local Society Chapter. In attendance were Bishop John Michael (Botean) of the Eparchy of Canton, Ohio for the Romanians, and Jack Figel, publisher of the "Eastern Churches Journal." Approximately 25 people, mostly clergy, attended the meeting.
(The SSJC has existed in England since 1926, however, in the U.S. its presence was manifested primarily through ECJ. A U.S. National Chapter was established with Jack Figel as President in 1998.)
On September 22, 1998 a meeting was held at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Boardman, Ohio to introduce interested people to the Society.
On November 13, 1998 a special event sponsored by the organizers of the Society was held at St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Church in Boardman. Three bishops: Bishop John Michael, Byzantine Catholic; Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, Greek Orthodox; and Bishop Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Indiana, Roman Catholic addressed the subject of church unity to an audience of over 100 people. SSJC National President Jack Figel was in attendance.
On March 2, 1999 an organizational meeting was held at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Boardman for the purpose of firmly establishing the local group. An Orthodox priest (Father Gregory Becker) spoke on "Fasting in the Orthodox Tradition." Meeting schedules, dues structure, agenda, bank account, etc. were established. (Vito R. Carchedi assumes chairmanship of the newly founded SSJC Youngstown-Warren Chapter.)
On May 4, 1999 the first regular meeting of the newly established Society took place. At this time the Society had 21 official members. The speaker was a Redemptorist priest from South Africa of Lebanese Maronite descent (Father Gary George) who had just been assigned to St. Maron Parish in Youngstown. The meeting was held at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church and Priory in Youngstown.
The Orientale Lumen III Conference of "Mary the Mother of God, and the Church" was held June 15-18, 1999 at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. No local members were able to attend. Although sponsored by the National Chapter, the Youngstown-Warren Chapter has supported this event which is part of the Society's annual schedule.
The next regular meeting of the Society took place July 6, 1999 at St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Campbell, Ohio. Father Daniel Rohan showed a video of an Orthodox Monastery and answered questions. As of this meeting the Society had 25 registered members. The next regular meeting of the Society took place on September 7, 1999 at St. Maron Maronite Church in Youngstown. Father Anthony Salim, pastor, provided an informative presentation on the Maronite Church. Geography, history, language, monastic origins, vestments, and icons were part of his talk.
Three members of the Society attended and reported on the Eastern Church Traditions and Celebrations Seminar at Notre Dame College of Ohio, Cleveland, October 15-16, 1999. Most of these excellent seminars, which feature theologians and Church historians of local, national and international reputation, have been attended by at least one of our members.
Tuesday, November 9, 1999 was the date of the next regular Society meeting held at Infant Jesus of Prague Byzantine Catholic Church, Boardman. Monsignor Alexis Mihalik, pastor, presented a brief video which introduce Eastern Christianity and followed with a history of the Ruthenian/Rusin Church.
The chapter has 27 members. Orthodox 3(2 laypersons, 1 clergy) Byzantine Catholics 7(4 laypersons, 3 clergy/religious), Maronites 2 (1 layperson, 1 clergy), Roman Catholics 15 (9 laypersons, 6 clergy/religious).
*As of February 29, 2000 the chapter counts 32 members.
**All meetings begin with a prayer service in the tradition of that particular church.