Founded on January 19, 1921, the years of the Province closely parallel the years of our Church and its people.
Very Rev. Gabriel Martyak, Apostolic Administrator, invited Mother Macrina Melnychuk, who was Superior in Philadelphia at that time, to form a second branch of the Order to serve the people of Ruthenian descent. Mother Macrina and two other Sisters accepted this invitation to begin a new foundation for this purpose.
The initial help for the new foundation came from Father Joseph Hanulya, pastor of Holy Ghost Church in Cleveland, OH. Father provided a ten-room house which became the first formal novitiate. As did the others who came to this new land, they immediately went to work. Initially, the small community began caring for orphan children; later including teaching and catechesis.
The Greek Catholic Union played a significant part in the lives of the Sisters and the Greek Catholic faithful. In order to care for the many orphans, the GCU built St. Nicholas Orphanage in Elmhurst, PA. The Sisters responded to the call of the GCU to staff this institution. One wing became the living quarters for the Sisters. An increase in the number of orphans and new vocations necessitated another move, this time to Factoryville near Scranton, PA.
This third location was remote from any Byzantine parishes and clergy, so spiritual benefits were lacking. Thus, the Sisters began to look for a still more suitable locality. Financially, the purchase of lands or a building seemed impossible. The money painstakingly saved by the Sisters through the years had been totally lost in the bank failure during the great depression.
Once more, the Providence of Almighty God intervened, and this led to the final move. It is no secret that the acquisition of the Mt. St. Macrina property was made possible by the contributions of the people from what little they themselves had. The year 1934 saw the beginning of a Phenomenon of God’s Grace, the Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Gathering people from all over the country and beyond, this event has held the Byzantine Catholic Church together, uniting her bishops, clergy, monastics and laity to a vision beyond parish or eparchy.
As schools were needed, the Sisters became professional educators to staff them. They published liturgical books with English translations from the Old Slavonic as the language changed. The Vatican Council instructed the Church to renew, and they participated in programs of Renewal and Revitalization. As the people moved westward and the Metropolitan Church was created, the Sisters have served in all four eparchies. Their ministerial significance in the life of our Church could go on and on and on.
The first and foremost sentiment of the Sisters for this unparalleled ministry for God, His Church and His People, is immense gratitude. In being able to share so much in relationship with the hierarchs, clergy and people, they are gratefully aware that they have received much more than they have given. Through these many years, the lives of the Sisters and the people of our Church have beautifully intersected: in prayer, ministry, mutual support, and simply being together and for each other through times both good and difficult.
Sister Ruth, the Provincial, and the Sisters ask that everyone join them in thanksgiving and celebration. May God accept our efforts and our gratitude, and may He continue to abundantly bless us and everyone in His Church for the next 100 years!
Dear Friends AND Fellow Pilgrims,
How can we not be filled with joy after experiencing the peace and blessings of our
85th Pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help!
Each Pilgrimage is like a wonderful concert. It begins as a single “note” as we meet to determine the theme of the pilgrimage. During the following weeks and months, additional “notes” are added, creating the melody of celebrants, homilists, programs and speakers. Come spring, the working “musicians” come to add their touch by cleaning, weeding, planting, organizing, ordering, and preparing the welcoming notes of hospitality in a spirit of service.
It all comes together with the arrival of our pilgrims from toddlers to teenagers, from young adults to seasoned seniors. They all add their blend of prayers and praise, petitions and needs. Finally, the spiritual concert rises from the prayerful grounds of Mount St. Macrina to the ears of Our Lord and his dear Mother, Cause of our Joy.
Thank you, sincerely, for being a part of this special “concert.” May its beautiful strains continue to echo within you throughout this coming year. Be assured that a daily prayerful “refrain” will be offered for you rising from the hearts of all of us, the Sisters of St. Basil. We will await your return for the 86th pilgrimage that will include a celebration of our century of service to the Byzantine Catholic Church.
With our love, prayers, and gratitude,
Sister Ruth Plante, Provincial
and the Sisters of St. Basil
Very early in the morning of Monday, August 12, 2019, Sister Ann Fedyszak (formerly Sister Aloysius) completed her earthly life and awoke to the dawn of her new life in the heavenly Kingdom. Sister Ann had been a resident of Mt. Macrina Manor just days shy of seven years, and it was from there that Jesus called her to Himself. She had been fortified earlier in the week by the Holy Anointing, accompanied by the faithful presence of her sister, Sister Margaret, and by the prayers of her Sisters, Sister Ann waited patiently for the Lord to come calling.
Sister Ann was born in Warren, OH, the daughter of the late Elias and Anna (Volchko) Fedyszak. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown on September 15, 1954 from SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Warren, OH. Sister Ann made her Final Profession of Vows on August 21, 1960 in the presence of the late Very Rev. Msgr. John Gernat.
Sister Ann’s life as a Sister of St. Basil spanned 65 years of dedicated service in a variety of ministries. For about 18 years, she served in the teaching apostolate. Sister Ann was then assigned to help establish the Office of Religious Education in Pittsburgh where she was noted for her significant contribution to the Catechetical Ministry. This ministry which was well-loved by Sister took a back seat when she was elected as Assistant Provincial for the community.
Retreat Ministry then engaged Sister’s energy for seven years until she was called to part-time ministry in both the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office and Holy Ghost Parish in McKees Rocks, PA. This part-time ministry in McKees Rocks developed into full time Pastoral Ministry for ten years. At a time when physical disability would cause many to retire, Sister Ann’s strong will stood her in good stead as she continued to give her all to her ministry.
In 2006, when it became apparent that she could no longer do so, Sister Ann returned to the monastery; however, continuing to serve in Pastoral Ministry at the Manor for another five years. Finally, as a resident at the Manor, Sister Ann was known for ministering to others. She was especially faithful in visiting community members when they were journeying toward eternity.
Sister Ann wanted to be remembered for her deep faith, and it was surely this which was the hallmark of her life. Though she could no longer be present with the community as they prayed Matins and Vespers, these liturgical service books were her faithful companions even up to her final days.
Sister Ann was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Mary (DeSantis) and her brother John. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her brother Joseph and her sister, Sister Margaret. Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery Chapel on Sunday, August 18 from 3:30 pm to the time of the Parastas Service which will be sung at 7:00 pm. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by Archbishop William C. Skurla on Monday, August 19 at 10:30 am. Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.
Donald R. Crawford Funeral Home in Hopwood, is in charge of arrangements.
However imperfect we think our lives may be with questions such as these, this is the gift of time that God has given to each of us in which to live every day as best we can. In recognizing this, we pray to Him in thanksgiving, for help, healing, peace, consolation, etc. We pray personally, communally at the Divine Liturgy and at special times, places or occasions. One such special time, place and occasion is, of course the annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Mt. St. Macrina in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
This coming Labor Day weekend will be the 85th time that the hierarchy, clergy, monastics and faithful people will have gathered to give glory to God and to honor His Mother as Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They come to pray, receive the mysteries of healing, and to reunite as Byzantine Catholic Church. I have often referred to the Pilgrimage as a “phenomenon of God’s grace,” simply because it has endured for these many years through times good and bad, with peaks and declines, and despite inevitable constant change. The 85 years certainly stand as a testimony to its significance and worth.
This year the days of Pilgrimage include September 1, the beginning of the Liturgical year. The troparion for the day most significantly prays as follows: O Lord, maker of the universe who alone has power over seasons and time, bless this year with your bounty, preserve our country in safety and keep your people in peace. Save us through the prayers of the Mother of God.
Kindly consider the gracious invitation of our bishops and the Sisters of Saint Basil to attend the Pilgrimage this year. Bring your hopes, petitions, cares and concerns to our Lord and His Mother, and please know that the gift and blessing of your presence and your prayers are most welcome.
– Sr. Elaine Kisinko, OSBM
In a spirit of gratitude and with great joy, the total community of the Sisters of St. Basil gathered in Uniontown to celebrate the 405 years of dedicated service to God on July 30, 2019. Each of the Sisters in her own unique way expressed her commitment to be a praying, healing and life-giving presence in our Metropolitan Church and in the world beyond.
Sister Mary Ann Vasilchek, as the senior of the group, celebrated 75 years as a Basilian Sister. Sisters from the Monastery joined in celebration with Sister at Mt. Macrina Manor since failing health did not allow her to be present at the Monastery celebration. In the Manor Chapel an abbreviated service of the Akathist to Our Mother of Perpetual Help was sung by the Sisters Following this, all gathered in the Oaks Dining Room to congratulate Sister Mary Ann, to enjoy refreshments and to share stories.
Sister Theodosia Alishofski, Sister Theresa Bavol, and Sister Petronilla Puhak marked 70 years of joyful service as Sisters of St. Basil. Serving for most of their religious life as teachers in the parish schools, each Sister then moved on to parish and/or pastoral ministry.
Sister Theodosia is presently serving in parish ministry in Wilkes-Barre Pa. and surrounding parishes. While visiting the sick is the primary focus of this ministry, Sister also is involved in catechetical ministry in the parish. Sister Theodosia’s gift as an iconographer is evident in the many icons that can be seen around the monastery.
After serving in parish schools for close to fifty years, Sister Theresa and Sister Petronilla are both now sharing their gifts of compassionate care at Mt. Macrina Manor. There, each Sister brings a ray of light to the residents who look forward to their presence. This same spirit also brings comfort to the families of residents, especially when the Lord comes to take their loved ones home to himself. Both Sister Theresa and Sister Petronilla share with the residents of the Manor, the same loving presence that were theirs as teachers.
Sister Elaine Kisinko and Sister Carol Petrasovich also began their ministry as Sisters of St Basil in the educational apostolate, both serving as teacher and principal for a number of years. Other and varied ministries then became part of their lives which included serving on the Provincial Council.
Presently Sister Elaine serves as secretary to Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla, the third Archbishop whom she was called to serve in this capacity. Added to her responsibilities for the Archeparchy, Sister Elaine is the copy editor for the BCW.
Sister Carol, who background is in Formative Spirituality, continues in her position as Director of the House of Prayer. Offering spiritual direction individually, retreats and workshops is the main focus of this ministry. Additionally, Sister Carol is the coordinator for the Annual Pilgrimage.
The epistle read at the Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving was from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in which he speaks of the gifts of the spirit. In listening to this reading, one could not help but reflect upon the many gifts poured out in the lives of our Sister Jubilarians. At the festive dinner following the Liturgy, Sister Ruth, Provincial, congratulated the Jubilarians and thanked them for so generously offering the treasures of their gifts throughout these many years. For all of them, she wished that each could now draw interest from this treasury, as they continue to be a praying, healing and life-giving presence.
The Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great are holding their XI General Chapter in Rome, Italy from July 8 to July 19, 2019.
The opening Divine Liturgy was held at St. Peter’s Basilica at the altar of St. Basil which has the body of St Josaphat enshrined in it. The Liturgy was celebrated by His Beatitude Sviatoslav and Bishop Dionysia and several priests.
The Opening Ceremonies started with the singing of “Heavenly King” in Spanish, Slovak, Romanian, Spanish, Ukrainian and English followed by an official opening of the Chapter by Mother Dia Stasiuk, OSBM.
After approval of the Facilitator and Chapter personnel, Sr. Dorothy Ann Busowski was elected as Chapter Chairperson. A Chapter Steering Committee was elected afterwards which included: Sr. Ihnatia Havrylyk, Sr. Maria Ignat, Sr. Susan Sisko, Sr Lucia Murashko.
There are 43 international delegates representing 13 provinces, vice-provinces and delegatures. The meetings are being held at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Collegium in Rome, Italy.
The theme of the Chapter is “New Wine in New Wineskins” from the Vatican document “New Wine in New Wineskins: The Consecrated Life and Its Ongoing Challenges since Vatican II”. The motto is Jesus’ words from John 19: 28, “I thirst”. The Logo reflects both the motto and the theme.
In the afternoon language groups were formed to discuss how our gifts may be transformed into “New Wine” for the Order.
We invite everyone to pray with us, asking God to send the Holy Spirit to inspire the Sister-delegates as they pray, discern, develop and prepare a vision and plan for the future of the Order and elect the members of the next General Administration to lead them on their journey.
Wishing you a Blessed Easter!