‘Why do you seek among the dead, as a mortal,
‘Why do you seek among the dead, as a mortal,
A Message from Sr. Susan Sisko, Provincial
As the world continues to monitor the horrific war raging in Ukraine, our hearts are with our Sisters in Ukraine and other parts of Europe who are working tirelessly to offer humanitarian aid to the refugees of this crisis.
We hope that you will join us in offering financial assistance to our Sisters, who are providing food, clothing, shelter, medicines, and other supplies to the refugees.
If you wish to donate, please follow this link and donate via PAYPAL, or send a check to Sisters of St. Basil the Great, 500 W. Main St., Uniontown, PA 15401. Please make your check payable to Sisters of St. Basil the Great and add “Ukraine” on the memo line.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the people of Ukraine.
Dear Basilian Sisters in Ukraine,
Dear Ukrainian Nation,
I am sending you this letter on the sixth day of shocking and unjustified aggression of Russian Federation military forces against Ukraine and Ukrainians. You are facing this trial with great dignity.
On February 12 the entire Order prayed for peace in Ukraine and as we lifted our eyes to the hills we testified together that our “help comes from the Lord” (Ps 121, 2). The Basilian Sisters from around the world continuously turn their eyes to the one who is our refuge and shelter. Every day and every night together with many other men and women of prayer we are creating a prayer shield for those in danger.
Dear Basilian Sisters in Ukraine, I am so grateful that you continue to be prayerful, healing and life-giving presence of God in your country, in all the cities and villages where you live, pray and serve. Thank you for bringing hope, trust in God’s providence, mercy and love to those who need it.
War, hatred and murder are obvious and bold-faced expressions of evil. Evil is a devastating force that destroys life, relationships and the soul. Dear Sisters, let us continue our prayers for peace. This is a time full of terror, blood, tears and cruelty but it is already clear how courage, love, mercy, truth, mutual aid and kindness are manifested as bright lights in the darkness….
Spiritual giants are born in the greatest of trials. Even at this time, the night of Gethsemane, and perhaps Golgotha, the Lord leads us to the resurrection. Therefore, dear Sisters, I entrust you with the care of the physical and spiritual life of all those who ask for help. Let us not allow fear, bitterness, hatred, which will try to block this light to win and destroy you.
In the time when we are about to begin the Great Lent I am finishing my letter by the lines that show what is our destination, the destination where Ukraine is headed. “Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered, and let those who hate him flee from before his face. Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling death, and to those in the tombs granting life!”
United in prayer,
M. Marcela Runcan, OSBM
The oldest living member of the Sisters of St. Basil, Sister Mary Ann entered into eternity on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Her long journey of 78 years as a Sister of St. Basil ended as she stepped into new life.
Sister Mary Ann (Elizabeth) Vasilcheck was born in Struthers, Ohio, the daughter of John and Susan (Ondovcin) Vasilchek. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown on May 14, 1944 and made her Final Profession of Vows on April 4, 1954 in the presence of the late Rev. Fr. Bernardine Hvizdos, OFM.
Sister Mary Ann’s years of ministry were largely spent as a home Sister in the various parish missions staffed by the Sisters. She also enjoyed teaching religion to younger children, and several years and many of her summers were taken up with this ministry. In addition, Sister served at the Bishop’s Residence in Pittsburgh and at St. Basil’s Home in Uniontown.
Following her service at St. Basil’s Home, Sister Mary Ann retired to the monastery, where she assisted wherever she could. In addition, from 1997 until 2005, Sister Mary Ann was a faithful volunteer at Mt. Macrina Manor. As her health declined, the Manor then became her home for the remaining years of her life.
While she wanted to be remembered for her deep faith and love of prayer, the Sisters also remember Sister as an enthusiastic sports fan. Although she was from Ohio, her loyalty in sports was transferred to Pittsburgh, and many a prayer was sent for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Steelers or Penguins. When visiting her at the Manor, any mention of sports would cause her eyes to light up! Sister Mary Ann also enjoyed putting together jigsaw puzzles; as another hobby, she spent time re-purposing greeting cards into bookmarks. These found their way into the hands of her many friends and acquaintances.
Sister Mary Ann was the last surviving member of her immediate family. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Mary, Helen, Susan, Delores, Ann, and Eileen, and brothers Michael, John and Edward. In addition to her members in community, she is survived by several devoted nieces and nephews.
The Parastas Service for Sister will be celebrated on Sunday, January 9 at 7:00 pm. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla on Monday, January 10 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.
In recent years, when Sister Salome was asked what she was doing in her retirement, she would reply, “Waiting for the Lord.” This time of waiting ended in the evening of Wednesday, September 29th when the Lord came to take Sister to her heavenly home.
Sister Salome (Helen) Yanochko was born in Freeland, PA, the daughter of Andrew and Mary (Sakosky) Yanochko. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown on September 15, 1950 from St. Mary’s Church in Freeland, PA and made her Final Profession of Vows on January 1, 1956 in the presence of the late Very Rev. George Bonchonsky.
From 1953, when she was first assigned to teach, Sister Salome had been busy shaping the lives of first and second graders. She loved teaching, and she spent 59 years in this ministry, 24 of these at St. Mary’s School in Cleveland, OH. Sister brought to her classroom the gift of her gentle ways and her enthusiasm for any advances in methodology. She took great delight in learning and using whatever technology was available to help those entrusted to her care.
During the summers, Sister’s artistic talent came to the fore when she spent hours faithfully decorating the large “medovniki” hearts which were so much a part of the annual pilgrimage. Each year she varied the decorations, always adding her significant touch of beauty to them. Probably her favorite pilgrimage ministry was at the ice cream stand; there she enjoyed greeting the pilgrims from the side window with a smile.
After retiring from the teaching ministry, Sister Salome returned to the Monastery. Almost immediately, looking to be helpful, she assisted the sacristan in several ways. There are also many small “duties” in a monastery, and Sister Salome took care of some of these in her quiet and unassuming manner. Among these was her careful tending to the peace plants that can be found in the foyer or corridor. We know they will miss her touch. No less will her absence be felt in her lively conversation at table, in her subtle sense of humor and in her smiles. In all, the hallmark of her work and presence was her cheerful disposition.
Sister Salome wanted to be remembered for her deep faith and prayer, and her Sisters in community can attest to this. It was a rare occasion for Sister Salome’s place to be empty in the chapel. As for being remembered for her love of teaching, her many students over the course of her career can surely attest to this.
Sister Salome was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers John, Michael and Nicholas Yanochko and her sister Mary Kusmider. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her brother Andrew and her sisters Anna Yanochko and Irene Larkin. Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery on Friday, October 1, 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 on Saturday, October 2 at 10:30 am at the Monastery. Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.
Donald R. Crawford Funeral Home. Hopwood, is in charge of arrangements.
Read Archbishop William C. Skurla’s Hierarchical Homily at the 87th Annual Pilgrimage here: 87th Annual Our Lady of Perpetual Help Pilgrimage
The Sisters of St. Basil the Great in Uniontown gather for community meetings and celebrations in July. As is customary during this time, the Sisters commemorated the Jubilarians during Community Week. This year Sister Euphemia Kopa celebrated 75 years of religious life and Sister Margaret Kapusnak, 70 years.
The Jubilee Divine Liturgy was held Tuesday, July 20, at the monastery with Chaplain Rev. Jerome Botsko officiating. The Sisters renewed their vows in a spirit of thanksgiving amidst the prayers of all the community. A celebratory dinner followed with a program of remarks and reminiscences.
Sister Euphemia Kopa entered religious life from Assumption of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in Weirton, West Virginia. Sister first served at the newly established St. Basil Home for Aged Women for two years and then dedicated her teaching years to the youngest children, kindergarten through second grade. Sister Euphemia was also a principal, the Administrator of the former St. Basil’s Home, and also served in the bishop’s residence. Of late Sister has assisted in the monastery baking department and the medovniki project for the Pilgrimage as well as with hospitality.
Sister Margaret Kapusnak arrived from St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Sister served as a teacher in the elementary and high school level for several years and was also the editor of The Voice magazine and Novice Directress before she began ministry in the Passaic Office of Religious Education. Later, Sister served for six years in the General Administration of the Order in Rome. After her return she was elected Provincial Superior in Uniontown in 1990. Following her term in leadership, Sister taught English in Trebisov, Slovakia in the newly established high school of the Greek Catholic Eparchy. From 1997 to 2001 she was the Development Director for the Province, and since then, Sister served as the Province Secretary at the monastery.
Sister Susan Sisko, Provincial Superior, acknowledged the faithful service of these Sisters for a combined 145 years, as well as their diversity of talents offered joyfully to the Lord.