The Religious Gift Shop at Mount St. Macrina is now open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 12:30-3:30 p.m. These are temporary hours and further announcements will be made regarding any changes. Please stay tuned and thank you for your continued support. You are required to wear a mask while shopping at the Religious Gift Shop and please maintain social distance. For further information, call 724-439-6180.
GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST!
As we put up our 2020 calendars, I’m sure we did so hoping to fill each page with many plans, hopes, goals, and aspirations. We had it all figured out…
Needless to say, having passed through one fourth of this year, the picture looks entirely different. We all find ourselves in situations that we never expected or imagined stretching our faith and trust. We need to dig deep into our spiritual treasure chest for encouragement. One phrase I like to remember is: “The only way to stay above the water is to trust the One who walked on the waves.”
When we make plans, I imagine the Lord looks down upon us, shaking his head and smiling as He looks at what is actually on the horizon. So what do we do? We trust, we pray, we hold our plans with open hands. We surrender them to Him.
Such has been our need as Sisters of St. Basil. We met, we discussed, we came up with ideas and plans to celebrate our 100th anniversary – a Century of Ministry to the Byzantine Catholic Church. Then COVID-19 arrived on the scene, and everything changed. We, too, need to remember that just because what’s going on now doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t mean God’s not working. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength. We, too, strive to give up control and allow the Spirit of God to lead our lives.
One of the most difficult changes that we need to accept is the decision to cancel the Pilgrimage gathering in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In the interest of safety and well-being of all, we will follow the lead of so many others and adhere to the guidelines provided. It is our intent, however, to work on providing a series of internet services which pilgrims can watch from their own homes. So, this year we will be making a pilgrimage of the “heart” rather than a pilgrimage of the “feet”.
We know that all of you are likewise going through your own life changes and adjustments. Together, we Sisters and friends are like a quilt with lots of different shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Together, through our prayers for each other, we find warmth and comfort in a support system that makes our lives richer and fuller. Together, we discover God’s plan for us.
With our loving prayers and support,
Sister Ruth Plante, OSBM
For Sister Mary Grace, Holy Week 2020 was to be the threshold of her entrance into the life for which she yearned. Her last words to Sister Ruth, Provincial, were “I want to go to heaven.” In mid-afternoon of Holy Wednesday, April 8, 2020, she got her wish. She had received the Mystery of Holy Anointing earlier in that week, and so she was well prepared to meet Jesus to whom she had dedicated 63 years of her life.
Sister Mary Grace (Marion) was born in Dunmore, PA, the daughter of the late John and Mary Margaret (Lesko) Skuban. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Taylor, PA on October 1, 1957 and received her Final Profession of Vows on August 25, 1963 in the presence of the late Very Rev. Msgr. Basil Smochko.
As a Sister of St. Basil, Sister Mary Grace was called to a variety of ministries. Sister had been on the staff of Mt. Macrina Manor as an LPN in direct nursing care and later, in medical records. She had also served at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary, at Mt. Macrina House of Prayer, as Activities Director at St. Basil’s Home and as a substitute teacher. At the monastery, she served for a number of years as monastery sacristan, as well as assisting with the health care of the Sisters and in clerical and other supportive services.
Her final years were spent as a resident at Mt. Macrina Manor. At the Manor, until Sister Mary Grace was no longer able to do so, she participated in the Divine Liturgy and other services planned for the residents’ spiritual nourishment and refreshment. One cannot forget, either, her daily praying of the rosary. One of her requests was to have the rosary she prayed on with her on her final journey.
Sister enjoyed taking part in the activities offered at the Manor; she was a familiar figure at the sing-along on Sunday morning, and whenever there was Bingo, she was there, too. She was always quick to thank those who visited, accompanied by a smile and “God be with you!”
Following is a reflection Sister wrote upon completing a sabbatical program. “The Lord is my Shepherd . . . He takes care of me and my needs better than I can ever do myself. That He has such great love for me is really overwhelming! For this, I am most grateful. It gives meaning and purpose for my life’s journey . . . It lets me know I am solidly grounded in His love.” These thoughts, spoken from Sister’s heart are the best way to portray her life! Now she lives even more fully in a heavenly sabbatical!
Sister Mary Grace was preceded in death by her parents and her three brothers, John (Eleanor), Andrew (Julie), and Joseph (Kay). She is the last surviving member of her immediate family.
The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated privately in the Monastery Chapel on Tuesday, April 14, by Rev. Jerome Botsko, Monastery Chaplain. There will be no public viewing.
Donald R. Crawford Funeral Home, Hopwood, is in charge of arrangements.
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED, HE IS RISEN!
As we prepare to celebrate the great feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, we want all of you to know that we are keeping you in our prayers each and every day. We continue to celebrate the liturgical services in our monastery – being mindful, of course, of social distancing and other safety practices.
We have taken upon ourselves the privilege of praying for all those who will not be able to attend church services this Easter season.
One thing we human beings insist on having is control. That’s not a terrible thing. Our human nature requires a certain amount of security in order to bring our best to others. But when the going gets tough, as it has during this time of the COVID-19 virus, control of our life usually gets wobbly, no matter how much we try to keep everything in order as we have planned. When we are not sure about trusting what is going on, it is time to turn to the Risen One who does know more than we do. We may not like to admit this when we are invaded by overwhelming distress and grasping on to the thinnest straw of calmness.
This is a time to hold on to the words of Jesus to his disciples, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you”…”Do not be afraid, I am with you always”… We all must dig a little deeper into our faith, trusting Our Risen Lord to be faithful to his promises and to share with us the joy of new life.
So, again, we proclaim with joy and faith: CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED, HE IS RISEN!
With our love, prayers, and gratitude to all of you,
Sister Ruth & the Sisters of St. Basil
Because of the rapidly evolving health risks associated with COVID-19, for the protection of our Sisters, our employees and the public, the Religious Gift Shop and Mt. Macrina House of Prayer have been closed until further notice. General public access to Mount Macrina Manor nursing facility has been suspended until further notice.
We ask that you keep in touch with our Sisters at the monastery through phone and mail rather than visits. We are grateful to God that there are no current cases of COVID-19 within our community of Sisters.
We are sorry for the impact this may have on you, and we thank you for your help and understanding during this time. We know that God gives us the grace we need to get through every difficulty and obstacle, and we rely on his help during this pandemic.
We ask that you join us in our prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help that she may intercede with her Son, the Divine Physician, to stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and challenges.
God is with us,
Sisters of Sisters Basil the Great
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