Appeal, No. 29, Jan. T., 1953, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, in Equity, No. 1128, in case of Walter Kaminski et al., members of the Holy Ghost Carpatho-Russian Greek Catholic (Orthodox) Church of the Eastern Rite of Phoenixville, v. Michael H. Hoynak. Decree, as modified, affirmed.
Walter T. Darmopray, with him Truman D. Wade and Wade, Wade & Wade, for appellants.
Thomas C. Gawthrop, with him Gawthrop & Gawthrop, W. Edward Bushong, Jr., and W. Edward Greenwood, for appellee.
Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY
This is an appeal from a final decree in equity which granted affirmative relief to the appellee, defendant in the court below.
Plaintiffs as officers of the Holy Ghost Carpatho-Russian Greek Catholic Orthodox Church of the Eastern Rite of Phoenixville filed a bill in equity against the defendant seeking to enjoin him, as pastor, from conducting services in the church and to compel him to surrender his living quarters in the church property. The defendant filed an answer and after denying the allegations of the bill, set forth new matter and prayed that plaintiffs be enjoined from interfering with the performance of his duties as pastor of the church and the occupation of his quarters and access to his personal property located therein. Plaintiffs then filed a reply to the new matter alleged in the answer.
At the trial plaintiffs' counsel stated that plaintiffs already had the relief sought and that no testimony would be offered in support of the bill. Evidence was then presented by defendant in support of his new matter and by plaintiffs in support of their reply.
The issue presented by the pleadings was whether or not the defendant had been removed from his position as pastor of the Phoenixville Church in accordance with the Constitution and Laws of The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese, United States of America, to which the Phoenixville Church was subject.
The facts are as follows: Defendant was appointed pastor of the Phoenixville Church in 1937. The Constitution and Laws of The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese require that each parish provide for its pastor suitable living quarters, utilities and a salary of not less than $150 per month.
These were provided for defendant by the Phoenixville Church. Sometime prior to April, 1951, the Bishop of the Diocese, the Right Reverend Orestes P. Chornock, received the following petition, to which were attached 123 names: "To whom it may concern: The undersigned, members of the Holy Ghost Church of Phoeniville, Pennsylvania, wish the immediate removal of our present pastor, the Reverend Michael Hoynak from his post as pastor of our church, and be replaced by a pastor who will be selected by the congregation and with the approval of our Bishop, the Right Reverend Orestes P. Chornock;...". Upon receipt of the petition, the Bishop instructed Dean Joseph Milly and Father Elias Kozar to investigate the matter. After defendant had orally refused to resign, he received a letter from Dean Milly dated April 4, 1951 which stated that the Bishop had requested the Dean to go to Phoenixville "... to hear evidence from both sides and to send him the minutes of the meeting.", and that the Dean would be in Phoenixville at 5 P.M. on Sunday, April 15th, to conduct the meeting. Defendant read this letter to the congregation at services on two Sundays. On April 15, 1951 at 5 P.M., defendant, along with a large number of the members of his congregation, assembled at the meeting. The Dean was not then present. After waiting until 6:15 P.M., defendant left the meeting and went to his living quarters. A few minutes later the Dean and Father Kozar arrived. After being informed of their arrival, defendant refused ...