The FIRST CATHOLIC SLOVAK UNION OF THE USA AND CANADA is a fraternal benefit society, founded in Cleveland on 4 Sept. 1890 by 11 men from 4 states. By 1933 the union had over 100,000 members and more than $9 million in assets. The union was established by Rev. STEPHAN FURDEK during a period of debate about how best to achieve unity among the various local Slovak lodges and societies, by men who believed that the Natl. Slovak Society was too secular and perhaps even anticlerical. With its motto "For God and Nation!" the union helped members deepen their religious faith and required them to become U.S. citizens. It also established an insurance fund, published the weekly newspaper, Jednota, and, as a cultural organization, protected the Slovak language and heritage.

The organization grew; by 1918 it had branches in 29 states and Canada, 50,000 members, more than $1.5 million in capital, and had paid out $5 million in benefits. By 1933 the union had a new national headquarters at 3289 E. 55th St. It operated an orphanage in Middletown, PA, and contributed to Cleveland's Benedictine High School and 2 girls' schools in Pennsylvania. Membership remained around 100,000 into the late 1970s. Between 1978-82 the number of lodges declined from 471 to 453, but assets increased from $42 million to $47.8 million. The union in 1982 operated its own printing plant and publishing house, relief fund, college scholarship program, supported other Catholic and Slovak organizations, and sponsored national bowling and golf tournaments. In 1995 the union was located at 6611 Rockside Road.


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Ledbetter, Eleanor E. The Slovaks of Cleveland (1918).

Megles, Susi, Mark Stolarik, and Martina Tybor. Slovak Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland (1978).

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