St. Michael’s Romanian Orthodox Church, as so many other Orthodox Churches, was formed from immigrant workers who came to America looking for a place in the world where they could work, live and worship God. They desired to pursue these interests without hindrance from the economic, political and religious upheaval caused by the Bolshevik revolution of Russia and by WWI. The thriving American Optical factory lured them to Southbridge, which became their new welcoming home.
The core founders of St. Michael’s weren’t typical Romanians, however, but were Aromani from Macedonia. That is, they were from an ancient tribe of Romanians who for long lost motives had moved from Romania proper to the country of Macedonia centuries ago, where they preserved their distinct language and customs while living in harmony with the indigenous Macedonian people. They dwelt so long in Macedonia that their language preserved its ancient flavor while the Romanian language continued to develop and change. The Aromanian language eventually became a dialect of modern Romanian. It is distinct from, but closely related to modern Romanian.
In authentic Orthodox style, they purchased land and begun building their first Church before even making their own dwellings. This first Church was completed in 1924, and then a parish house and hall were built in 1949 – 1950. Eventually a new Church was completed and dedicated on the former Church’s foundation on November 12, 1961.
Currently, the parish is a diverse mixture of cradle Orthodox and converts to the Orthodox faith. Services are almost entirely in English.