Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary Church

Royalton , Illinois

Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary Church

Founded 1914


Serviced by Deanery clergy.

Diocese: Diocese of the Midwest

Deanery: Kansas City Deanery


112 N Fairdale Ave
Royalton, Illinois 62983

Mailing address:

PO Box 307
Royalton, IL 62983-0307

Office: 618-984-2144

Parish Contacts

Dean, Kansas City Deanery
Holy Trinity Church
Overland Park, KS
Office: 913-681-6948


From Carbondale area
Take Rt 51 north to Hwy 149 into Royalton.  Go to the Casey’s Service Station and turn east (same side of the street as Casey’s).  Go to the third street (Fairdale) and turn right.  Park in the parking lot, and come and pray with us.

From Marion area
Take Rt 57 north to Hwy 149 into Royalton.  Go to the Casey’s Service Station and turn east (same side of the street as Casey’s).  Go to the third street (Fairdale) and turn right.  Park in the parking lot, and come and pray with us.

Schedule of Services

4:00 PM Winter/6:00 PM Summer
Saturday Evening

10:00 AM Divine Liturgy.
Sunday Morning

6:00 PM Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, followed by Lenten potluck dinner.
Wednesday Evenings in Great Lent

9:00 AM Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.
Friday Mornings in Great Lent

Parish Background

The early history of Holy Protection parish parallels that of many of the parishes in America.  With the large influx of immigrants from Europe due to religious persecution and economic hardship, thousands of Orthodox Christian faithful left their families and arrived here on the shores of America.

Originally, most of the immigrants who formed this parish were farmers in their homeland.  Once they arrived, the work of the mines lured them to settle in this area.

Being financially unable to build a new church, the founders of our parish held services in their homes with a visiting priest from St. Louis.  Although many people were responsible for the establishing of Holy Protection parish, the three men cited as principle founders were Frank Derbak, John August and Paul Andrews.  With great spirit and determination, they went from home to home, along with many others, seeking support for building a parish home in which to raise their children in the True Faith.  Ivan Matichin, Ivan Drozd, Ivan Shender and Ivan Lapko are listed also, as most energetic activists in the organizing of the campaign of the parish formation.

Inspite of their meager income, their strong faith and trust in God drove them on.  In a short time, they obtained land and erected a church building.  Each family was asked to give $25.00 at the start of the building and another $25.00 at its completion.

On the Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos (October 14, 1914 - according to the Julian Calendar), work began on the new foundation.  The year prior, plans were taken from St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Muddy, Illinois.  Fr. Michael Vyacheslavov left St. Louis, Missouri to become the first priest.

As work rapidly progressed, disaster struck on October 27, 1914.  An earth-shattering explosion took place in the Franklin County Coal Company located in Royalton.  Thirteen Orthodox Christian men died.  In the aftermath of the disaster, it was learned that one of the founders of the parish, Frank Derbak, had survived.

Frank had arrived late to work that day, which was unusual for him.  As he was entering the mine, the explosion blew the back of his coat over his head, thus protecting him from both debris and the deadly carbon monoxide gas.  He lay still until one of the rescuers bumped him with his boot.  He alone had miraculously survived.  From that moment forward he fasted every day for the remainder of his long life.

The thirteen deceased men were buried on land in Royalton owned by the mining company.  This land was given to Holy Protection parish to be used as an Orthodox cemetery.  Kitty Mabus, parishioner and choir director, said, “The graves are a permanent reminder of these men and their efforts to build this church.”  Each year, on October 27, a panakihida (memorial service) is celebrated for the repose of the souls of these thirteen men.

Historical financial reports show that the church was built at a cost of $2,200 and was paid in full, leaving the parish debt free.

Since that time many additions have been made to the parish.  A church hall; a Rectory; traditional Orthodox iconography, some by the hand of the famous iconographer Sokolov; and a grotto with a mosaic of the Theotokos, the Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary are just a few.