Eager to complete her life’s journey, Sister Agnes Herbenick (formerly Sister Stephen) was welcomed home by the Lord on Saturday afternoon, March 2, 2024, at Mt. Macrina Manor.   The Manor was the last place of Sister’s active ministry, and it was from there that she took the final steps into God’s Kingdom.  Her passing is felt deeply by all staff and residents alike, to whom she ministered as the pastoral care director for several years with great love and fidelity.

Sister Agnes was born in Lyndora, PA, the daughter of the late John and Mary (Katana) Herbenick. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. John’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Lyndora, PA on October 1, 1958, and made her Final Profession of Vows on August 22, 1964.

As a Sister of St. Basil Sister Agnes devoted 50 years of her life to the education ministry. It was a ministry that she enjoyed, and this was evident in the energy and good humor she brought to her students.

Throughout these 50 years of teaching, Sister Agnes ministered in the eparchies of Pittsburgh, Parma, and Passaic with a joy and bright spirit that was evident.

As it became apparent that the Lord would soon call her home, she had the opportunity to speak with a few family members. To one in particular, whose tears were apparent, she said, “Please don’t cry; this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life. “Even through the journey of death, Sister Agnes continues to teach all of us, and to model a grace and gentle spirit that was characteristics of her life as a Sister of St. Basil.

Sister Agnes loved to laugh and found humor in the most mundane things. She had a love of life, a love of her community, and a love for her family. As one of fourteen children, she had many nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews. She faithfully acknowledged birthdays, holidays, and celebrations throughout the year. She kept in touch with so many, and even as she became weaker, she desired to stay in touch via a greeting card or text. She loved her family very much, and they loved her.

Sister Agnes was preceded in death by her parents and her many siblings: John, Michael, Stephen, William, Joseph, George, Paul, Frank, Mary Stanko, Margaret, Ann, Helen Villani, and Andrew. In addition to the members of her community, she is survived by many devoted nieces, nephews, and their children.

Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery on Monday, March 4, from 3:30 pm to the time of the Parastas Service at 6:30 pm. Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla will celebrate the Funeral Divine Liturgy on Tuesday, March 5 at 10:30 am in the Monastery Chapel.

Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

Donald R. Crawford Funeral Home in Hopwood is in charge of arrangements.

By |2024-03-04T15:12:29+00:00March 3rd, 2024|Uncategorized|Comments Off on SISTER AGNES HERBENICK ENTERS INTO THE FULLNESS OF LIFE

A Christmas Reflection

Celebrities and other folks are interviewed yearly regarding their Christmas memories and are often asked: What does Christmas mean to you?

Almost all will answer that Christmas is about family, getting together, sitting around the Christmas tree, opening gifts, catching up with loved ones, etc.

While all these things are laudable by-products of Christmas, as we know, their comments are missing the mark.

Christmas is not about family, getting together, sharing stories, catching up with loved ones, etc.

Christmas is about one thing, and one thing only:  The Son of God deigned to be born in a cave in Bethlehem for our salvation.  Jesus, Incarnate Word of God, took flesh, so that we might have life eternal.

Why doesn’t anyone ever say that when they are interviewed?   I often wonder this; some speculate it’s because they think faith is a “private” matter that folks don’t want to discuss.  Yet, after a win, how many sports figures are first to thank their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for a victory?  There is nothing “private” about the fact that Jesus Christ, Incarnate Son of God, was born of Mary, lived on earth, died, and rose from the dead to save every single person, past, present, and future.  It’s a pretty public thing.

As a nation, are we completely buying into the secularization and commercialization of Christmas?   Are we evolving into the belief (which merchants want us to believe) that the Christmas Season actually ends on Christmas Day because they then turn their sites to Valentine’s Day, another lucrative date on their calendar, rather than the reality that the Christmas Season begins on Christmas Day and is celebrated throughout January?

I challenge you this upcoming Christmas Season to remind yourselves, and all those around you, of what Christmas really means, to embrace and celebrate this joyous Season and proclaim it loud and proud by your words and actions.

God is With Us!  S’nami Boh!

Sister Susan Sisko, OSBM
Sisters of St. Basil the Great



By |2023-12-19T18:29:15+00:00December 19th, 2023|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Christmas Reflection


Patiently waiting for the Lord Jesus to call her home, Sister Josetta (Angela) Kriss quietly fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday morning, November 18, 2023, at Mt. Macrina Manor. She awoke from her life’s journey to be welcomed to her new home in the Kingdom.

Sister Josetta was born in Canonsburg, PA, the daughter of the late Charles and Susan (Hoady) Kriss. She entered the community from St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Canonsburg, PA on September 15, 1956, and made her Final Profession of Vows on August 26, 1962.

From 1960 to 1995, Sister Josetta’s years of ministry were devoted to educating children both as a teacher and principal in the schools of the Archeparchy and of the Eparchies of Passaic and Parma. In 1994, she was elected to the Provincial Council, and in 1996, she was appointed the Province Treasurer.

Upon completion of her term of office, Sister Josetta was reappointed as Province Treasurer, a position

she held until her appointment as manager of the Byzantine Seminary Press. Sister Josetta returned to the monastery in 2010 willingly helping at the Gift Shop or in the Card Shop Ministry. Due to a decline in health, Sister Josetta spent several peaceful years at the Manor. Her gentle spirit and gracious manner marked her time at the Manor to all who cared for her or came to visit.

In her personal file, Sister Josetta noted that she simply wanted to be remembered as a Sister of St. Basil. This simple wish encompasses all Sister Josetta was and all she held dear. Among the gifts she possessed and used as a Sister of St. Basil was her love of music. Sister cherished her heritage of liturgical music from her father who was a cantor for many years.  This became an important aspect of her teaching ministry. In several schools, Sister Josetta established a children’s choir to sing at the Divine Liturgy and other events. In the monastery, she also took her turn as Cantor for the liturgical services.

At her Golden Jubilee celebration, Sister Josetta expressed feelings of being truly blessed for her years as a Sister of St. Basil.  She was quick to express her warmest gratitude and prayers for all those who have loved and supported her along the way.

Sister Josetta was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Carol, and an infant sister Anna Helen. In addition to the members of her community, she is survived by her devoted sister Margaret V. Popp and cousins Donna Szott and Robert Kriss.

Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery on Friday, November 24, from 3:30 pm to the time of the Parastas Service at 7:00 pm. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla on Saturday, November 25 at 10:30 am. in the Monastery Chapel

Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

Donald R. Crawford Funeral Home in Hopwood is in charge of arrangements.

Due to the rise of COVID-19 and flu in the area, masks are suggested for those in attendance.

By |2023-11-20T22:53:26+00:00November 20th, 2023|Uncategorized|Comments Off on SISTER JOSETTA KRISS ENTERS INTO ETERNAL LIFE


Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his.” This verse from a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins is a celebration of God’s presence in all things, stating how everything is a reflection of God’s glory. It fittingly describes our quartet of Jubilarians. In their 60 years as Sisters of St. Basil, they have reflected God’s presence to countless people whose lives intersected with theirs.

Our Jubilarians continue to reflect God’s glory as consecrated women being a praying, healing, and life-giving presence wherever they are. Each one is active, enthusiastic, and committed to the ministry and the people she serves.

Father Jerome Botsko, Monastery Chaplain, conveyed this in his homily at the Thanksgiving Divine Liturgy for the Jubilarians. The Gospel reading of the Parable of the Sower in which the seed is the Word of God lent itself to a description of their lives. They represent the good soil in their faithfulness to their vocations. Over the span of their religious lives, they have produced abundant fruit for God’s Kingdom. We congratulate them and give thanks to God for them. Their accomplishments are briefly described below.

Sister Margaret Ann Andrako’s ministry journey has taken her to parish schools, to Religious Education in the Archeparchy and Passaic Eparchy, to organizational work in the Van Nuys (Phoenix) Eparchy, to director of the House of Prayer, as an administrative assistant at Byzantine Catholic Seminary and then at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. For two different terms, in 1990 and in 2015, she was Assistant Provincial. In 2021, Sister Margaret Ann accepted a position in the Diocese of Erie as the administrative assistant for the Office of Religious and for St. Mark’s Seminary where she currently serves.

Sister Sylvia Burnett’s ministry likewise took her to parish schools, then to retreat work and spiritual direction at Mount St. Macrina, the Jesuit Retreat Center in Clinton, OH, and at Ecclesia Center in Girard, PA. She also worked on research, planning and development for the Community, served as motherhouse director, and Councilor and director of grounds and facilities.  Sister Sylvia continues to unravel the mysteries of broken marriages in her tribunal work for the Erie Diocese where she has served since 2007 as an auditor in the diocesan tribunal.

Sister Susan Harvey devoted 29 years in the parochial elementary schools around the Metropolia serving as teacher and principal. She taught at nearly every grade level from first through eighth. Following her years in the education apostolate, Sister Susan went on to serve in Pastoral Ministry and as assistant director for the Office of Religious Education for the Parma Eparchy. Returning to the education ministry, Sister Susan served on the staff of the newly organized school at St. Gabriel’s Parish in Las Vegas, Nevada.  In 2014, Sister returned to the monastery, where she took on the position of Director of Associates while assisting with the Cemetery Ministry and the Card Shop, and various other ministries at the monastery.

Following her initial ministry as a teacher, Sister Barbara Jean Mihalchick moved on to retreat work and spiritual direction at the Retreat Center.  In 1989, Sister Barbara Jean was elected to the position of Vicar General in the General Administration of the Order in Rome, Italy. During this time, Sister traveled to all parts of the Order, but especially to Eastern Europe where Sisters were re-structuring public religious life and ministries. There Sister offered on-going formation sessions with the young professed Sisters. Sister Barbara Jean returned from Rome in 2001. Following a sabbatical year, she joined the House of Prayer staff at Mount St. Macrina where she currently serves as program director and Vocation Director for the Province. Presently, Sister is in her second term as a member of the Provincial Council.

One gift that is not listed above is the gift of listening. For a combined 240 years of religious life, each Sister has listened, empathized, sympathized or just was present as a “reflection of God’s glory.” That might just be the greatest gift they gave and keep giving to the world.

No Basilian celebration is complete without a special meal. At the festive dinner afterward, Sister Susan Sisko, Provincial, and all the Sisters offered their warm congratulations to the Jubilarians. May God grant them many more happy, blessed, and spiritually fruitful, years!

By |2023-10-19T16:40:07+00:00October 19th, 2023|Uncategorized|Comments Off on OUR JUBILARIANS: A QUARTET OF HARMONY

The Blessing of Pilgrimage by Sister Elaine Kisinko, OSBM

As we approach the time of the 89th Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Mt. St. Macrina in Uniontown, preparations there intensify.  This biggest and oldest Pilgrimage of its kind of our Church in America continues to be a phenomenon of God’s grace.

Blessings beyond counting abound here. It is a few days for spiritual refreshment – a time away from the cares, concerns, and responsibilities which can crowd our daily lives.  We have an opportunity to pray, either privately or with others at the soul-stirring liturgical services.  The blessing to receive the mysteries of Eucharist and Reconciliation awaits us.

As we appreciate the exceptional beauty of Our Lady in her Shrine indoors, we also enjoy the outdoor natural loveliness: the grounds, the flowers, and the trees of Mt. St, Macrina.  With the gift of His Mother to us, and with the wonder of this part of our world surrounding us, we gratefully acknowledge the blessings from Our Heavenly Father that are ours.

The perspective that Pilgrimage brings can be an awareness of our Church. With the Pilgrims coming from near and far, we can realize that along with our beloved parish churches, we are blessed to belong to the Archeparchy, an Eparchy or an Exarchate (Toronto, Canada), which together comprise the Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh.

The blessing of gathering with our Archbishop, Bishops, Clergy, Religious, Seminarians, Cantors, and each other can never be minimized.  Here together we meet, pray, sing, talk, share, renew acquaintances, and make new friends.

Another grace that endures is the memory of Pilgrimages past.  Perhaps we hold dear and picture a loved one who came with us and who is no longer here.  Maybe we remember fondly the days when we could participate differently – when walking up the hill was not a chore or what it meant to circle the paths in the candlelight processions.

We are thankful for the blessing of our Archbishop, Bishops, and Priests – without whom there would be no Pilgrimage; the blessing of our deacons, seminarians, and cantors; the blessing of the Sisters who joyfully welcome you; the blessing of their staff and volunteers who graciously worked very hard to get ready for your coming, and who give their hours and effort during the Pilgrimage and afterward;  the blessing of those who sacrifice time and travel to be here; the blessing of those who come every year or when they can;  the blessing of first time Pilgrims; the blessing of parents who bring their families; the blessing of those who come alone; the blessing of babies and young children; the blessing of teens and youth, the blessing of the aged and those of all ages: Great Blessings All!

When you come to the Pilgrimage, you will receive many blessings. But please remember, you too are a blessing to be shared.  We await your coming, your presence, and the blessings you bring.



By |2023-07-19T13:52:37+00:00July 19th, 2023|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Blessing of Pilgrimage by Sister Elaine Kisinko, OSBM


A Legend in Her Own Time


There is nothing like a Jubilee to bring Sisters together in joyful celebration. Sunday, May 21st was such a day, for on that day, the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown honored Sister Christopher Malcovsky on her Diamond Jubilee of Religious Life.

Like all major events of the Province, the celebration began with a Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving. As is customary on this occasion and before receiving the Holy Eucharist, Sister Christopher renewed her vows. In this, she was joined by the entire community.

In his homily, Archbishop William remarked on the many levels of service and the many different roles that Sister carried out in her 75 years of service. Speaking to the time when he was Bishop of Phoenix, he noted that  faced with the enormous task of managing the apartment complex at St. Stephen’s, Sister worked hard to get everything organized, and in so doing engaged others in the parish to help.

Her purpose went beyond practicalities of the buildings, and extended to spiritual counseling when needed. Sister’s ministry in the Eparchy of Phoenix for nearly thirty years actually began in 1991, assisting in organizational work in what was then the Eparchy of Van Nuys.

Sister Christopher spent her beginning years as a Basilian in the teaching ministry.  Her abilities led to the assignment as Motherhouse Superior and then as Provincial Superior for two terms. In 1983, she was elected as General Superior, the highest position in the Order based in Rome. In this capacity, she touched the lives of many Sisters, particularly those still living under communism.  Even at this date, she is fondly remembered for her courage in visiting those groups of Sisters during her tenure.

After completing her term of office in Rome, Sister Christopher returned to ministry in the Phoenix Eparchy where her responsibilities were mainly in parish ministry at St. Stephen’s. In addition, she also managed the 26 apartments for senior citizens on the parish campus. Besides engaging in direct ministry for the parish, Sister Christopher also organized and coordinated the Bishop’s Appeal for the Eparchy, a task which she ably fulfilled over the course of her years in the West. She whole-heartedly dedicated her time, talents and energy to these many significant areas of service.

Though separated by miles, parishioners of St. Stephen Pro-Cathedral and the apartment residents still remember Sister Christopher for her prayerful and calming spirit as well as for her willingness to listen. For many of them, she is just a phone call away.

Because of health issues, Sister Christopher returned to the monastery at Mt. St. Macrina in 2018, assisting part time at the Religious Gift Shop or wherever needed. Presently, Sister Christopher is a resident at Mt. Macrina Manor where she previously offered her services as a volunteer.

At the festive dinner following the Liturgy, Provincial Sister Susan congratulated Sister Christopher and thanked her for her enthusiastic and faithful service. She then read a very special message from the Sisters in Romania who are celebrating their 75th Anniversary as a Province. Sister Christopher holds a special place in their hearts, since it was through her that the Basilian Sisters in Romania became a part of the Order. Truly, one can say that Sister Christopher has been blessed with many happy and spiritually fruitful years, and all of us are grateful to share in this blessing!

By |2023-05-24T17:48:16+00:00May 24th, 2023|Uncategorized|Comments Off on SISTER CHRISTOPHER CELEBRATES DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY


What joy to go from praying in the Chapel at the Manor to be welcomed into the embrace of the Lord. These last moments of Sister’s earthly life were spent in God’s presence, shortly to be followed by meeting Him face to face. Sister Leocadia was called home to the Lord on Wednesday, November 23, 2022. She had been a member of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 77 years. The daughter of the late Michael and Victoria (Backus) Sevachko, she entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. Nicholas parish in Youngstown, OH on October 12, 1945 and made her Final Profession of Vows on August 28, 1953 in the presence of the late Bishop Daniel Ivancho. The first to enter the community, Sister Leocadia had the distinction of being one of three sisters in community; Sister Dorothy and Sister Bernarda.

Well prepared with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Carlow College in Pittsburgh, PA and a Master of Science in Education from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA. Sister was assigned to the teaching apostolate. She spent well over 57 years in elementary education. Her enthusiasm and her energy as a teacher informed all she did. God only knows the effect of her teaching and the special way she touched lives, and perhaps even changed them.

Sister Leocadia wanted to be remembered for her deep faith, her spirit of trust, and her love of teaching. All who knew here can testify that these qualities were an integral part of her life. Sister’s assignments also included a number of years when she served as both teacher and
principal as well as in Catechetical Ministry during the summers. Following this long period of active ministry, Sister Leocadia returned to the Monastery, and when her health declined, the Manor became her new home. Here, she was blessed to enjoy the companionship of her sister, Sister Bernarda, whose visits were the highlight of her day. Both were enthusiastic sports fans, and they spent happy hours following the Cleveland sports teams and cheering them on.

In addition to her members in community, Sister Leocadia is survived by her sister, Sister Bernarda, several nieces, nephews, grand-nephew, grand-niece, and cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, Sister Dorothy, her sister Marie, and brother Matthew.

Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery on Sunday, November 27 from 3:30 pm to the time of the Parastas Service at 7:00 pm. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla on Monday, November 28 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.

For the safety of all, masks are required for all those in attendance.

By |2022-11-25T17:49:45+00:00November 25th, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on SISTER LEOCADIA SEVACHKO ENTERS INTO THE FULLNESS OF LIFE

Happy Thanksgiving

The Sisters of St Basil the Great are grateful for your friendship and your prayers. We wish you and all those you love a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

By |2022-11-24T16:24:40+00:00November 24th, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving

A Pilgrimage Thank You

October 2022

Glory to Jesus Christ!


Dear Friends,

Every year at this time, we are blessed with a miracle. Through the grace of God and the intercession of His Holy Mother, our Annual Pilgrimage took place once again, for the 88th time.

During every final week of preparation, we wonder if everything will get finished, will we be ready, will the weather hold up?  Somehow, all the answers to these questions became the miracle we experienced Labor Day Weekend.

You were very much a part of that miracle. Every effort and sacrifice you made during the Pilgrimage became a gift to all who were blessed by being here to honor the Mother of God. Your presence helped to make the Pilgrimage a vibrant experience of what it means to be Church.

May the blessings of Pilgrimage accompany you all through the year, until we meet again to honor Our Mother of Perpetual Help at her Shrine on Mount St. Macrina.

With gratitude,


Sr. Susan Sisko
Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great

By |2022-10-06T19:57:47+00:00October 6th, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Pilgrimage Thank You

88th Pilgrimage Welcome Message – Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla

We welcome the pilgrims to the 88th Annual Pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  Our theme this year’s pilgrimage is the Theotokos the Seeker of the Lost.

With great joy, we have returned to our regular schedule for this year’s Pilgrimage.  We extend our thanks to the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great, the monastery staff, the Basilian Associates, and the army of volunteers who make this Pilgrimage possible each year.

Prayers and pilgrimages to Mary the Mother of God date back to the first Christian Churches.  The devotion the icon under the title “Seeker of the Lost” in the American translation are linked to the Slavic icons under the name of “Seeker of the Perishing.” According to one of the first written references, an icon was painted or written in a village in Russia during the seventeen hundreds.   Several copies with the same names are now found around the world.

According to the Slavic story, a Russian man was traveling by horse and cart was stranded in January blizzard on the feast of the Theophany.  Unable to continue his journey, he prayed to the Mary the Queen of Heaven.  He promised her that if he were rescued that he would donate an icon with the name of the “Seeker of the Perishing” to the local church.

He was saved by a peasant who nursed him back to health.  True to his promise to the Mother of God, the man donated an Icon to the church.  The icon was a source of many miracles.  Other Icons dedicated to the “Seeker of the Perishing” likewise provided help to those who were in desperate situations due to addictions, poverty, and plagues. They received help from God through their intercession to Mother of God to save themselves or other who were lost.

The Bible is full of stories which Jesus searches for the lost.  In Gospel of Saint Luke, he proclaims that He came to bring salvation to those who were lost.  A good example of Jesus mission to save the lost be seen in his seeking Zacchaeus.  Jesus and the apostles were passing through the ancient city Jericho.  Instead of going the houses of the leaders of the city or synagogue, he went to house of Zacchaeus the tax collector.  Tax collectors were hated by all and considered to be worthless and lost.  Of all the people in Jericho, Jesus seeks him and goes to his home to lead him back to salvation.  There are countless other stories of Jesus seeking and reaching out to the poor, the sick, and lowest people of society.  Like Jesus, Pope Francis also reaches out to those that are lost where ever he travels.

The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel foretold Jesus mission to seek the lost.    Ezekiel wrote that as a shepherd looks for his scattered sheep when he is among the flock, so I will look for My flock. I will rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick, but I will destroy the fat and the strong.  I will feed them with judgment. (Ezekiel 34:16)

Fulfilling Ezehial’s prophecy, Jesus told the similarly parable of shepherd who leaves the flock of ninety-nine sheep to seek the lost sheep and return it to home.  The one that was lost was found and returned to the flock.

For the past three years, we continuously prayed for ourselves, for our families, and for our friends who have been lost during the time pandemic and during the time of recovery from the shutdown.  We pray especially for those who are still unable to return to church service due to fear of the pandemic.  We pray that we be delivered the continuing effects which hold us back.  We pray that those who are spiritually lost will be found and return to Lord.

We pray to Mary to protect the over five million Ukrainians who have fled and lost their homes.  We pray to Mary to intercede with her Son to bring peace and justice to the war torn Ukrainian where hundreds to thousands are being killed each day.  We pray for a just peace and those who have been scattered and lost will be returned home.

We pray this year to Our Lady of Perpetual Help to intercede to seek and to find those who are spiritually lost.  In the past, the prayers of the pilgrims have be heard and miracles have happened.  We pray that your prayers today will be heard by the Mother of God and that they will be granted by Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.


By |2022-09-06T15:37:56+00:00September 6th, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on 88th Pilgrimage Welcome Message – Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla
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