Fallen Asleep: In Memoriam

Reverekapusnak-3-4h_1380039571nd Joseph Kapusnak

July 7, 2014

Rev. Father Joseph Kapusnak, 79, pastor of St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church, Leisenring, Pa. and a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, fell asleep in the Lord Monday, July 7, at Mount St. Macrina Manor, Uniontown, Pa.  He was born August 11, 1934 in Johnstown, Pa., a son of (the late) Michael & Anna (Teplicky) Kapusnak.  In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by siblings Michael, Martin, Nicholas, John, Stephen, Helen, Julia and Mary Kapusnak, Anna Bubalo and Betty Brown.  He is survived by a sister, Sister Margaret Kapusnak, OSBM of Mount St. Macrina, Uniontown.

Father Joseph grew up in Johnstown and attended St. Mary Greek Catholic School in Johnstown.  He graduated from Johnstown Catholic High School in 1952 and was a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Delaware Valley College in 1961. Ordained to the Priesthood, March 25, 1966 by Bishop Nicholas T. Elko D.D.,  Father Joseph’s parochial assignments included: St. Mary Parish, Johnstown (deacon,1965); Holy Ghost Parish, McKees Rocks, Pa. (assistant, 1966-1968); SS. Peter & Paul Parish, Duquesne, Pa. (assistant, 1968); St. Mary Parish in Sabraton, W.Va. and St. Nicholas Parish, Bobtown, Pa.  (administrator, 1968-1971); St. Mary Parish, Bradenville, Pa. (pastor, 1971-1973); St. Michael Parish, Sheffield, Pa.  (pastor,1973-1996); St. Nicholas and St. George Parishes, Youngstown, Ohio (pastor and administrator, 1996-1997), St. Nicholas Parish, Perryopolis, Pa. (pastor, 1997-1999) and St. Stephen Parish, Leisenring (1997 until his passing).  Archieparchial appointments and offices held by Father Joseph included: Priests’ Senate, Pension Board, Personnel Board, Office of Religious Education Instructor, Spiritual Director, BCW Contributor of Series and Articles, Renewal and Revitalization Commission, Clergy Formation Task Force, Keynote Speaker-Catechetical Congress and  Dean of North Central Deanery 1982-1996, appointed by Archbishop Stephen Kocisko and renewed by Archbishops Thomas and Judson.

Visitation was held Thursday July 10 from 2 until 9 p.m. in St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church, Leisenring, where the Service for a Priest was celebrated at 7:30 p.m.  The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Friday July 11 at 10:30 a.m. with Archbishop William C. Skurla as celebrant. Interment followed in Mount St. Macrina Cemetery, Uniontown.

In blessed repose, grant O Lord,

eternal rest to your departed servant,

the priest Joseph 

and remember him forever!

sr_thomasine_1405964299Sister Thomasine Gernat, OSBM

July 7, 2014

A few weeks short of her 90th birthday, on the morning of Monday, July 7, Sister Thomasine (Irene) Gernat peacefully entered into the embrace of the Lord Jesus whom she served with such devotion for 67 years. The daughter of the late John and Anna (Gaydos) Gernat, Sister Thomasine was born in Florence, Pa. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Punxsutawney, Pa. on Oct. 14, 1947. She pronounced her First Vows on Aug. 15, 1949 and made her Perpetual Profession on Aug. 28, 1953 in the presence of (the late) Bishop Daniel Ivancho.

Sister Thomasine spent the first 20 of her 67 years as a Sister of St. Basil in the teaching ministry. Concurrent with some of these years, she was also called to be the Province Treasurer, a service which she offered with dedication for over ten years. Sister Thomasine was then called to another but similar duty at Mount Macrina Manor. At the Manor, she initially worked as Bookkeeper in the Accounting Department. However, her talents and industrious spirit did not go unnoticed, and so the position of Assistant Administrator was added to her responsibilities. After a sabbatical year following these years of active duty, Sister Thomasine undertook a complete change of ministry and spent the remaining years of her active ministry at the House of Prayer, where her quiet presence and willingness to take on a variety of jobs will not be forgotten by those who knew her. The last three years of her life were spent by Sister Thomasine as a resident of the Manor, this time being cared for rather than being in the service of others.

In her personal request form, Sister Thomasine noted that she would want to be remembered for her love for prayer, for her family and for children.  Her nieces and nephews and their families could surely testify to the latter. Sister Thomasine also enjoyed working with money, and this was surely borne out in most of her life’s work. At the Parastas service, Father John Petro offered some reflections on Sister Thomasine’s life as he knew her. She, like all of us, was challenged to become the unique person God called into being. Her uniqueness was manifested in a variety of ways. In particular, her eye for detail, for getting things done properly; “crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s” was a mark of whatever duty engaged her at the moment.

Although somewhat reserved, quiet and unassuming in manner, Sister Thomasine also had a sense of humor and could be quite engaging. In her ministry at Mount St. Macrina’s House of Prayer, she preferred to be in the background, helping in the kitchen. In later years, however, she became willing to engage in conversation with those who came for retreat or days of prayer, and she was found to be a compassionate listener.

Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla, in his homily for Sister Thomasine’s Funeral Divine Liturgy, noted that as the Gospel proclaimed, Sister Thomasine “has passed from death to life.” Having delayed his trip to Gettysburg to be present for the funeral, Archbishop compared her sense of duty and getting things done to James Longstreet, general in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Although he openly disagreed with General Lee’s tactics at the Battle of Gettysburg, he did his duty and supervised the disastrous infantry assault known as Pickett’s Charge. While we may not be called to such dramatic measures in our lives, Archbishop William related, we, too, like Sister Thomasine, can “soldier up” and go forward in God’s service.

Sister Thomasine was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Basil and John, and sisters Mary Gernat and Catherine Wesdock. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her devoted sisters Margaret Dubensky, Martha Rumbosky and Donna Jean Damson and many beloved nieces and nephews and their families. The Parastas service was celebrated at the Monastery Chapel Wednesday, July 9 by Very Rev. Archpriest Eugene P. Yackanich; concelebrants included: Very Rev. Archpriest John G. Petro, Very Rev. James Spontak, Rev. Robert Oravetz, and Rev. Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain. In attendance were Very Rev. Ronald Larko and Rev. James Ragan. Visitation continued afterwards until 8:30 p.m. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Thursday, July 10 by Metropolitan Archbishop William. Concelebrants were Very Rev. Archpriest Dennis Bogda, Very Rev.Archpriest John Petro and Rev. Michael Huszti. In attendance were Very Rev. Ronald Larko and Rev. Stephen Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

May God grant to his handmaiden, Sister Thomasine, eternal memory and peaceful repose.

chemsak_anne_1405964989Anne Chemsak

May 8, 2014

Anne Chemsak, a charter member of the Pittsburgh Byzantine Catholic Archieparchial Choir, fell asleep in the Lord May 8, 2014. She was 92.

A devout Byzantine Catholic and gifted singer, Anne shared her talent with a number of choirs, including the Downtown Chorale, St. John Damascene Choir, St. Mary Czestochowa Choir and most recently, the Pittsburgh Byzantine Catholic Archieparchial Choir. She also had been a chorus singer in local productions of several operas.

The fourth of 10 children of Michael and Anna Pavlosky Kopchik, Anne was born Oct. 8, 1921, in Emeigh, Cambria County, Pa. In October 1946, she married George R. Chemsak and resided in McKeesport, where the couple belonged to St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church and raised four children.

Anne is survived by her children Barbara Kolodziej of White Oak; Judith Ward of Belle Vernon; Elaine Kuhns of Slippery Rock, and George G. Chemsak of Crescent. Three siblings survive her: William Kopchik of Sewickley; John Kopchik of Wilson, N.Y., and Margaret Konarski of Baden, as well as eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Anne was preceded in death by her husband of nearly 57 years and six of her siblings.

Visitation and Panachida were held on Mother’s Day, May 11 at the Jaycox-Jaworski Funeral Home, McKeesport. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated the following morning at St. Nicholas Church by Father Donald Voss, pastor. Anne’s beloved Archieparchial Choir, directed by Darlene Fejka led the responses. A special rendering of “Ave Maria,” one of Anne’s favorite hymns to the Blessed Mother, to whom she had a lifetime of utmost devotion, was offered by her granddaughter, Tracey Parsons. Interment followed in New St. Joseph Cemetery, North Versailles, Pa.

In blessed repose, grant rest, O Lord
to your departed servant Anne.
Eternal Memory!

cross_1380738722Reverend Stephen J. Kolcun

February 22, 2014

Retired priest of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh Father Stephen J. Kolcun fell asleep in the Lord February 22, 2014. Born July 11, 1923 in Clairton, Pa., Father Stephen was ordained to the priesthood for the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in 1946 and served various parishes for the diocese. He was received back into the Byzantine Catholic Church in 1972, at which time he was appointed administrator of St. Mary Church in Beaverdale and SS. Peter and Paul Church in Dunlo, both in Pennsylvania. Father Stephen retired from active ministry in 2001.

Visitation was at the John F. Slater Funeral Home, Pittsburgh on Thursday, Feb. 27, where the parastas service was celebrated that evening. Funeral Divine Liturgy was offered at St. John the Baptist Church, South Side Pittsburgh, Friday, Feb. 28, with Archbishop William C. Skurla presiding.

Preceded in death by his parents Steve and Julia (Sovich) Kolcun, sister Helen Kolcun, and a son, Carl Kolcun, Father Stephen is survived by his son, Stephen G. Kolcun.

In blessed repose, grant O Lord,

eternal rest to your departed servant,

the priest Stephen 

and remember him forever!

cross_1380738722Karen K Haddad

January 24, 2014

Wife of Deacon

Karen Katherine Kraemer Haddad, 62, fell asleep in the Lord Friday, January 24, 2014. She was a native of Algiers, La. and resident of Houma, La. Beloved wife of Deacon Gregory Haddad, administrator of Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church in New Orleans, Karen was a parishioner and served as cantor. She also was the hostess and secretary for the church.

Karen was a past member of the Houma Terrebonne Community Band. She was an active member of the Humane Society of Houma and a volunteer bird rehabilitator. She also was an active member of the Evergreen Lions Club.

Preceded in death by her parents, Murphy Paul Kraemer and Melva Blanchard Kraemer, and brother Wayne Paul Kraemer, Karen is survived by her husband of 42 years, Deacon Gregory Haddad, son Geoffrey Haddad, daughter Ginger Haddad, grandchildren Carrie and Courtney Falgout, and sister Leah Boquet.

Visitation was observed Thursday evening Jan. 30 at Chauvin Funeral Home, where the Panachida memorial service also was celebrated. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31at St. Nicholas Church.

Grant rest O Lord
to your departed handmaid Karen
in a place of light and peace
where there is no pain,
sorrow, nor mourning,
but everlasting life.
Eternal Memory!

hebert-oliver_1391741277Reverend Oliver Hebert TOR

December 18, 2013

Father Oliver Hebert, T.O.R. of the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Most Sacred of Jesus died unexpectedly Wednesday, December 18, 2013, at Forbes Regional Hospital, Monroeville, Pennsylvania. He was born on December 9, 1940 in Worcester, Mass. and given the name John. A son of the late Oliver A. Hebert and Maude M. Champagne Hebert, he was a graduate of Park Street Elementary School and Palmer High School, both in Palmer, Mass.

After high school graduation, Father Oliver attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where in June 1961 he received a Bachelor of Arts (June 1961) and a Master of Arts (June 1963) in Mathematics. From 1961 until 1965 Father Oliver was an Instructor of Mathematics at Williston Academy, East-hampton, Mass. He entered the Third Order Regular on September 12, 1965 at Mt. Assisi Monastery, Loretto, Pa. He professed his temporary vows on July 1, 1967 at Sacred Heart Monastery, Winchester, Va., and solemn vows on July 1, 1970 at Immaculate Conception Chapel, Loretto, Pa.

Father Oliver was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1971 by the late Bishop James J. Hogan, D.D. of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, at Immaculate Conception Chapel, St. Francis College, Loretto, where Father Oliver received his Master of Divinity degree that same year. He received a Master of Arts degree in Eastern Christian Studies from John XXIII Institute for Eastern Christian Studies, Maryknoll Seminary, Ossining, N.Y. in 1976, and continued his pursuit of higher education with doctoral studies in Mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh.

During his long and very generous ministry, Father Oliver served as follows: 1971-1973, St. Francis College, Loretto, Pa. (Math Instructor 1973-1978); The College of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio,
(Theology Instructor 1978-1984); Franciscan Renewal Center, Winchester, Va. (Director 1984-1988); St. Francis College, Loretto, Pa. (Math Instructor 1988-1990); University of Pittsburgh (graduate studies 1990-2001); St. Francis University (Math Professor 2001-2002); St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Northern Cambria, Pa. (Administrator since 2002); SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church, Patton, Pa. (Pastor since 2002).

Father Oliver is survived by a brother Edward of Nicholson, Pa., and a cousin, Donald R. Hall, Northern Cambria, Pa. Divine Liturgy was celebrated at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Northern Cambria Friday morning, Dec. 20, 2013. Friends were received that afternoon and evening at the Chapel of St. Francis Friary, at Mt. Assisi in Loretto; the Vigil Service was celebrated at 7:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated Saturday morning, Dec. 21 at St. Francis Friary with Very Rev. Richard L. Davis, T.O.R., Minister Provincial, as principal celebrant. Following Mass, internment took place at the Franciscan Friars’ Cemetery on the campus of St. Francis University.

May God grant to his servant
the priest Oliver
Eternal Memory
and Blessed Repose.

yetsko-2h_1380040877Reverend Robert K. Yetsko, TOR

November 18, 2013

Father Robert K. Yetsko, TOR, 57, fell asleep in the Lord on Monday, November 18, 2013. A member of the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Loretto, Pa., Father Bob, as he was affectionately known, was accorded bi-ritual faculties in 1984 to serve the Byzantine Catholic Church. He had served the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh in various parishes, most recently Holy Trinity, Sykesville, and Nativity of the Mother of God, Dubois, both in Pennsylvania. His untimely passing was the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in LaJose, Pa. (Clearfield County).

Born July 2, 1956 in Altoona, Pa. to Doris J. Gates and (the late) Robert J. Yetsko, Father Robert was given the name Kevin. A graduate of McNelis Catholic Grade School and Bishop Guilfoyle High School, both in Altoona, he entered the Third Order Regular on August 24, 1974 upon high school graduation, professed his temporary vows on June 1, 1976, and solemn vows on June 1, 1981. Father Robert was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1984 by +Bishop James Hogan of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, at the Immaculate Conception Chapel, St. Francis University, Loretto. Father Robert received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from St. Francis University in May 1979, and Masters of Divinity degree from University of St. Michael College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

During his long and faithful ministry, Father Robert served as follows: 1984-1986, Campus Ministry and Instructor in Philosophy, St. Francis University, Loretto; 1986-1989, Pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church, Patton, Pa.; 1989-1992 Pastoral Care, Southside Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa.; 1992-1994, Parochial Vicar, St Maria Goretti Church, Arlington, Texas; 1994-2000, Pastor, St. Matthew Church, Pittsburgh; 2000-2008, Pastor, SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church, Punxsutawney, Pa.; 2008-2010, Local Minister, St. Francis Friary, Loretto; 2010-2012, Pastor, Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic Church, Conemaugh, Pa. and St. Nicholas, Nanty Glo, Pa.; 2012-present, Pastor, Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic Church, Sykesville, and Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church, DuBois.

Father Robert is survived by his mother, Doris; sisters Melanie (Dr. David) Lee, and Anne (Kenneth) Macklin; niece Olivia Walton and nephew, Sean Walton, all of Altoona, and his Franciscan Brothers. Funeral Divine Liturgy for a Priest was celebrated 4:00 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21 at Holy Trinity Church in Sykesville.

The following day, friends also were received at the Chapel of St. Francis Friary at Mt. Assisi, Loretto, where the Vigil service was celebrated that evening. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Immaculate Conception Chapel on the campus of St. Francis University in Loretto, with Very Rev. Richard L. Davis, TOR, Minister Provincial, as principal celebrant. In attendance on behalf of the Archeparchy was Metropolitan Archbishop William; Bishop John Kudrick of the Eparchy of Parma delivered the homily. Following the Mass, interment was at the Franciscan Friars’ Cemetery, on the campus of St. Francis University.

May God grant to his servant
the priest Robert
blessed repose and
Eternal Memory!

patpetruna_1387224814Patricia “Pat” Petruna

October 27, 2013

A charter member of the Pittsburgh Byzantine Catholic Archieparchial Choir (PBCAC), Patricia “Pat” Petruna was swiftly called home to the Lord Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. She had sung alto with the PBCAC since its official inception in 1998.

Born March 9, 1953 in McKees Rocks, Pa. to Charles and Elizabeth Petruna, Pat graduated second in her nursing class at Ohio Valley School of Nursing, and had worked as an RN since 1974. She later learned an MS in Professional Leadership, which she utilized in her most recent position as Quality Management Coordinator at Pittsburgh’s Magee Women’s Hospital.

A faithful Byzantine Catholic and avid educator, Pat also taught young students for over 30 years in the Eastern Christian Formation program at her parish, Holy Ghost Church in McKees Rocks, as both instructor and coordinator. She also was on the Parish Advisory Board and worked on both the 75th and 100th Parish Anniversary committees.

Her love of her Rusyn heritage also led her to involvement in the Slavjane Folk Ensemble for many years, in which she held the offices of Vice President, President and Trustee, respectively. Pat also was the reliable “go-to” person anywhere or any time nursing or emergency medical help was needed.

Preceding her in death were her father, Charles, and husband Patricia “Pat” Petruna choir member departs suddenly Frank Mazur. Grieving her loss are the couple’s only child, Michael Mazur; mother Betty Petruna; sisters Michelle Preik, Leonora (Greg) Haffly, Julia Chambers, Pauline (Harry) Smith, Myrona Petruna, and Beth (Tony) Deaton; nieces and nephews Stacey (Nick) Symchak, Katie Chambers, Nicole (Chas) Snyder, Matthew Miller, Page and Madisyn Symchak.

Friends were received Oct. 30-31 at the Valerian F. Szal Funeral Home, Inc., McKees Rocks, where the Parastas was offered. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Friday morning Nov. 1 at Holy Ghost Church by Father Frank Firko, pastor. The Archieparchial Choir led responses. Interment followed in St. Mark Cemetery, McKees Rocks.

May God grant
to his faithful servant
Patricia
Eternal Memory
and Blessed Repose.

srcelestine_1380553950Sister Celestine Petruska, OSBM

September 10, 2013

While doing a favor for another Sister, Sister Celestine (Margaret) Petruska winged her way to the Lord in the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. The previous day she had just returned from a week’s vacation with her good friend Sister Christopher. Neither she nor anyone expected that this vacation would be a prelude to the eternal vacation which awaited her the next day. Without a doubt, she carried with her into eternity that same joyful spirit with which she returned to the monastery

A daughter of the late Michael and Anna (Varhol) Petruska, Sister Celestine was born in Lamberton, Pa. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Uniontown, Pa. on Jan. 26, 1947. She pronounced her First Vows on Dec. 9, 1948 and made her Perpetual Profession on Aug. 28, 1953 in the presence of Bishop Daniel Ivancho, of blessed memory.

Sister Celestine celebrated her birthday with great enthusiasm just two weeks before her eternal birthday. One could truly say of her that she was 93 years young. Her youthful and energetic spirit was the hallmark of her life. If she had any regret, it would have been that she had to retire from active ministry due to health issues in 2011. Sister Celestine served in a variety of ministries. Starting out as many in the community did, she served as teacher and principal for a good number of years, then as Novice Directress and as a member of the Renewal Team. Still in ministry full time, she served first as Assistant Chancellor and then as Finance Officer in the Eparchy of Phoenix (formerly Van Nuys) for 14 years. Retirement was not in Sister Celestine’s vocabulary, so after a brief hiatus, she was assigned to St. Therese parish in St. Petersburg, Fla. where she worked as pastoral assistant until her return to the monastery in February of 2011. In the last two years of her life, Sister Celestine made herself useful wherever she could. Visiting the Sisters who were residents at Mount Macrina Manor to check on their personal needs was one of the services she enjoyed doing.

Without a doubt, it can be said that Sister Celestine enjoyed life to the fullest; she valued her religious vocation; she was faithful in all that was Sister Celestine Petruska, OSBM youthful, energetic spirit was a hallmark of her life Health enrichment parish required of her as a Sister of St. Basil, and she shared her joy in life with her Sisters in community, her family and her friends. Never flagging in her interests, she took up violin lessons in the latter years of her life, and the morning before she died was heard practicing her violin in preparation for her violin lesson later in the day.

Metropolitan William, in his reflections, noted that this was a bittersweet day for all. There is joy because Sister Celestine has gone to her heavenly reward; but there is sadness, since we will no longer be able to share in the vitality of spirit which she brought into our lives. Metropolitan William remarked that he got to know Sister Celestine during the time she served in the Eparchy of Phoenix when he was Bishop there. In his conversations with her, she would say that her years in the West were the best years of her life. She especially took pleasure in the sunny weather which enabled her to be outdoors when she was not at work, and she did work very hard. Her work, however, did not in the least stop her from finding ways to bring joy to others. One of the ways she did that was to invite her coworkers or the senior residents of the condos to take time to party. If you did not know how to do the “hokey-pokey” before Sister Celestine came to Phoenix, you surely did once Halloween came around.

In a more serious vein, referring to the Feast of the Exaltation of the Most Precious Cross of the Lord,

Metropolitan William noted that Sister Celestine responded to the Gospel call to take up the Cross and follow Christ. This she did joyfully, and we are all called to do likewise in the same positive spirit. Finally, Metropolitan William commented on Sister Celestine’s love of travel; she has now made that final journey into the Kingdom of God where all of her family members were waiting to welcome her and where she will continue to pray for us.

Sister Celestine was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Michael, Joseph, John, Steve and George; and sisters Anna and Mary. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her devoted brother William, her cherished sister Dorothy Petruska Medvitz and many nieces and nephews and their families.

The Parastas Service was concelebrated on Thursday, Sept. 12 by Rev. Michael Huszti, Sisters of St. Basil Chaplain; Very Rev. Robert Evancho and Very Rev. Ronald Larko. In attendance was Very Rev. Archpriest John Petro. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Friday, Sept. 13 by Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla. Concelebrants were Very Rev. Archpriest Dennis Bogda, Very Rev. Robert Evancho, Rev. Ronald Larko and Rev. Michael Huszti. In attendance were Rev. Joseph Kapusnak, Very Rev. James Spontak and Rev. Stephen Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

May God grant to his
handmaiden, Sister Celestine,
eternal memory
and peaceful repose.

michaellarko_1377099571Mr. Michael Larko

July 23, 2013

Father of Priest Mr. Michael Larko Reposes

Beloved husband, father, grandfather

Mr. Michael A. Larko, 98, of Penn Hills, Pa. fell asleep in the Lord Tuesday, July 23, 2013, at Ligonier Gardens Retirement Home. The father of Archieparchial priest Very Rev. Ronald P. Larko, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Uniontown, Mr. Larko was the beloved husband of the late Margaret J. Larko and father of John Larko, of Leechburg, Michael J. (Marsha) Larko, of Plum, Thomas (Karen) Larko, of Punxsutawney, Anna (John) Maier, of New Florence, Patricia (Ed) Morris, of Turtle Creek, and the late Robert G. Larko. He had 16 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren and also is survived by many nieces and nephews.

Mr. and Mrs. Larko owned and operated Larko’s Confectionery Store in North Bessemer, Pa.

Friends were received Friday July 26 at Soxman Funeral Homes Ltd./Roth Chapel, Penn Hills, where the Parastas was celebrated that evening. A Panachida service was held for the immediate family the following morning, fol-lowed by celebration of the Funeral Divine Liturgy at Church of
the Resurrection in Monroeville. Archbishop William C. Skurla officiated; Father Joseph Raptosh, pastor of Church of the Resurrection, and Father Ronald Larko were concelebrants.

Private interment was in St. Mary Cemetery, Yatesboro (Armstrong County), Pa.

In Blessed Repose,
grant O Lord Eternal Rest
to your departed servant
Michael
and remember him forever.
Eternal Memory!

srambrosia_1374340661Sister Ambrosia Homa, OSBM

July 9, 2013

Sister Ambrosia (Magdaline) Homa entered into eternal life very peacefully and quietly on the afternoon of July 9 at Mount Macrina Manor surrounded by the company and prayers of her Sisters in Christ. A daughter of the late George and Elizabeth (Curty) Homa, Sister Ambrosia was born in Koritnan, Czechoslovakia. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Mahwah, N.J. on July 22, 1943. Sister Ambrosia pronounced her First Vows on Aug. 19, 1945 and made her Perpetual Profession on Aug. 19, 1951 in the presence of Rev. John Kocisko of blessed memory.

Regardless of whatever work she was assigned to do, Sister Ambrosia filled her ministries with enthusiastic and loving service of the Lord. As a young religious, Sister served in ministry at St. Nicholas Orphanage in Elmhurst, Pa., where she served as Prefect of Children. Many years were spent assisting the Sisters on missions in Pennsylvania and Ohio and in the monastery in Uniontown. For twenty years Sister Ambrosia helped with the care of the residents at St. Basil’s Home for Aged Women. She also worked at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh. In her later years, she used her talents to assist in the Vestment Department at the monastery in Uniontown. In her eighties, Sister Ambrosia devoted much time and effort assisting and accompanying her brother Father Joseph Homa during the last years of his life spent at Mount Macrina Manor.

Sister Ambrosia was well known for her faithfulness to her prayer life. She often could be found in the chapel asking the Lord to bless those who had asked for her prayers. She was very sincere in her religious vocation and strove to faithfully and lovingly live out all of her commitments.

In his homily at the Funeral Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla noted that the Gospel reading referred to Christ’s compassionate care in feeding the five thousand. He compared this to Sister Ambrosia and her life-long service of taking care of other people and their needs. He also noted that Sister Ambrosia was born on July 19, the feast of St. Macrina. Archbishop quoted from the Kontakion for her feast: “You loved the good God with all your heart, O Macrina. You shouldered your cross and sincerely followed him. You found the total remission of your sins in Him.” Metropolitan William applied these words to Sister Ambrosia’s life and challenged all the Sisters and faithful to accept all that God sends and to offer it back to him.

Sister Ambrosia was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Elizabeth Kuruc and Helen Pahule, and brothers Rev. Joseph Homa, Michael Homa and George Homa. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by a nephew, Ernest Kuruc, a niece, Margaret (Pegi) Homa, and a cousin, Dr. Robin Lucas.

The Parastas Service was celebrated Thursday, July 11 by Monastery Chaplain Rev. Michael Huszti, Very Rev. Archpriest John G. Petro, and Rev. Robert Oravetz. In attendance were Rev. Ronald Larko and Rev. James Ragan. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Friday, July 12 by Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla. Concelebrants were Rev. Michael Huszti and Rev. James Spontak. In attendance were Very Rev. Archpriest John G. Petro and Rev. Ronald Larko. Others in attendance included family members, Basilian Associates and friends. Entombment followed in the Resurrection Mausoleum of Mount St. Macrina Cemetery.

May God grant to his handmaiden, +Sister Ambrosia, eternal memory and peaceful repose.

evancho_1369765851Reverend George T. Evancho

May 26, 2013

Reverend Father George T. Evancho, 83, of Avella, Pa. died on Sunday May 26, 2013 at home.

A son of the late Peter and Mary Shikorski Evancho, he was born May 22, 1930 in Freeland, Pa. Father George, a retired priest of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, was a graduate of SS. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary.  He was ordained in 1964, and served the majority of his ministry at St. John the Baptist Church in Avella, Pa. from 1967 to 1984, and St. Mary Church in East Pittsburgh from 1984 until his retirement in 2005.

Prior to entering the Seminary, he served in the United States Navy.

In addition to his parents, preceding him in death were two sisters, Martha Chicka, and another who died in infancy. Surviving are four brothers: Richard and Stephen of Eagle, Colo., Paul of Brooklyn, Ohio and Theodore of Parma, Ohio; dear friend Jerry Stefkovich; and caregiver Valerie Lis.

Friends were received Friday, May 31 at the Jerome A. Stefkovich Funeral Home, Avella, where the Parastas service was celebrated that evening by Metropolitan Archbishop William and Father Edward Lucas, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church. Also present were Father Andrew J. Deskevich, Father Frank A. Firko, Father Ronald P. Larko, Father Robert J. Karl, Father Kurt Burnette, and Deacon John Hanchin.

Memorial Divine Liturgy was celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, June 1 at St. John the Baptist Church, with celebrant Father Edward M. Lucas and concelebrant Father Andrew Deskevich. Also present were Father Stephen J. Wahal and Father Jerome G. Botsko. The traditional Prayer of Absolution was conducted at the funeral home at the conclusion of the liturgy, followed by interment in St. John Cemetery.

May God grant to his servant
the priest George
Eternal Memory
and Blessed Repose.

sranastasia_1368557729Sister Anastasia Charnichko, OSBM

April 11, 2013

Well-Noted for Meticulous Creation of Clergy Vestments

During one of the most beautiful times of the liturgical year, the Paschal season, Sister Anastasia (Julia) Charnichko, 85, peacefully gave her life back to the Risen Savior. It was early in the afternoon of Thursday, April 11, that Sister Anastasia’s earthly life ended and her new life began. It was especially fitting that the Lord called her at this time, since her religious name means “resurrection” in Greek.

A daughter of the late Michael and Martha (Dobony) Charnichko, Sister Anastasia was born in Georgetown, Pa. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Wilkes-Barre   Township, Pa. on March 28, 1946. Sister Anastasia pronounced her First Vows on February 12, 1948 and made her Perpetual Profession on August 28, 1953 in the presence of the late Bishop Daniel Ivancho.

Sixty-seven of her eighty-five years of life were totally devoted to the service of the Lord in whatever work she was assigned to do. As a talented and meticulous seamstress, most of Sister Anastasia’s years of service were spent in the Vestment Department at the Sisters of St. Basil the Great monastery in Uniontown, Pa.; in fact, this was her main ministry for almost 30 years before she was admitted to Mount Macrina Manor in April of 2009. In the years previous to 1980 she alternately was assigned to supportive services at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary or at the Archbishop’s Residence in Pittsburgh in addition to the Vestment Department. Like Sister Isidore Marhunic, who preceded her in death, Sister Anastasia’s work was well-known to the clergy of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh. She lovingly and carefully fashioned the vestments and other liturgical articles needed for the Divine Services. While her work was truly appreciated, it is equally true that she also was looked to for support, encouragement and spiritual refreshment. Sister Anastasia had a deep appreciation of the priesthood, and her personal prayer notebook contained a list of those whom she faithfully remembered in prayer.

In the monastery, Sister Anastasia is probably best known for her quiet and unassuming manner, her faithfulness to prayer and her love of her religious vocation. During her years at the Manor, she could be relied on for her compassion with and prayer for those who brought their concerns to her. Her well-worn rosary was a constant companion and gave witness to the many prayers she offered for others. When she celebrated her Golden Anniversary of religious life, Sister Anastasia spoke of her gratitude for her religious vocation and of her thanks for persevering in it. This grace is one highly treasured by all religious, and her moment of death, as she was surrounded by a goodly number of her sisters in community, is testimony of the fulfillment of this deep desire. Sister Anastasia fell into the eternal embrace with the singing of the Resurrection Troparion and the Marian hymn “Bohorodice D’ivo” ringing in her ears.

In his homily, Metropolitan William noted that Sister Anastasia’s funeral was taking place during the week of the Myrrh-bearing Women. These women went to the tomb to perform the ordinary task of anointing the body of Jesus, and in so doing they discovered the extraordinary happening of Christ’s Resurrection. This event transformed and strengthened their faith. In a similar manner, Sister Anastasia lived an ordinary life in community, doing all that was asked of her. While it might have seemed to her that the work she did was ordinary, it was a work that was a gateway to the extraordinary. The vestments she crafted, by extension, became another way she participated in the wondrous mystery of the Divine Liturgy. Concluding his homily, Metropolitan William stated that by her life, Sister Anastasia was a witness to all of us to build up the Kingdom of God simply by doing what we are supposed to do.

Sister Anastasia was preceded in death by her parents, a sister Helen Kozup and brothers Charles, Nicholas, Andrew, John, Michael, and George. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her devoted sisters Mary Pukatch and Elizabeth Popovich, and many nieces and nephews. The Parastas Service was celebrated on Monday, April 15 by Very Rev. Eugene Yackanich and Rev. Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain. Rev. Ronald Larko also was in attendance. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla on Tuesday, April 16. Concelebrants were Very Rev. Archpriest Dennis M. Bogda, Rev. Michael Huszti and Rev. Joseph Kapusnak. In attendance were Rev. Jerome Botsko, Rev. Ronald Larko, Rev. James Spontak and Rev. Stephen Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

May God grant to his handmaiden Sister Anastasia eternal memory and peaceful repose.

marker_1357935557Father Seraphim Chewning

March 30, 2013

Served Pleasant City, Ohio Parish

On the eve of the glorious Resurrection, March 30, 2013, Father Seraphim John Chewning fell asleep in the Lord.

Born in Fredericksburg, Va., in 1934, Father Seraphim attended local public schools, the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and the Philadelphia Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa.

After many years of serving as a minister of the Gospel, Father Seraphim was a teaching missionary in Tanzania, East Africa. Received into the Greek Orthodox Church in 1990, he served parishes in Greece, England, and in the U.S. He was received as a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh under the omofor of Metropolitan Archbishop Judson M. Procyk 1998, serving at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Pleasant   City, Ohio, from 1999 until 2003, when he retired due to failing eyesight.

Father Seraphim also served as chaplain for the Cambridge (Ohio) Knights of Columbus and was a past member of the Archeparchy’s Clergy Pension Board.

Father Seraphim is survived by his wife, Sue Anne; son, Jason of Cambridge; and daughters, Dr. Susannah Chewning of New Jersey and Mary Johanna Lee of North Carolina.

Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated at 10 a.m. on Bright Wednesday April 3 at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church, PleasantCity by Metropolitan Archbishop William and Father A. Edward Gretchko, current administrator of St. Michael Church. Interment at St. Michael Cemetery followed.

Memorials may be made to:

St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church Women’s Guild
408 Walnut St.
Pleasant City, OH 43772

and

Hospice of Guernsey, Inc.
P.O.   Box 1165
Cambridge, OH 43725

srmaryjohn_1368557300Sister Mary John Semon, OSB

December 20, 2012

Benedictine Nun Enjoyed Life of Prayer, Activity, Service

Sister Mary John Semon, OSB, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of the Byzantine Church at Queen of Heaven Monastery in Warren, Ohio, fell asleep in the Lord after a short illness on December 20, 2012 at The Assumption Village in North Lima, Ohio.

Sister Mary John was born in Glen Campbell, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1916, a daughter of the late Peter Semon and Susan Franko Semon and the eldest of eleven children.   At age 17 she left home to work in New York City, where she joined St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church and became active in the Legion of Mary and the Sodality of Our Lady, attending the Divine Liturgy frequently.

Encouraged by friends, she entered the newly-formed community of the Sisters of Christ the Teacher in Pittsburgh on Dec. 7, 1959, and made her final profession of vows on Jan. 6, 1964.  Sister Mary John taught at Byzantine Catholic parish schools in McKees Rocks, Pa., Carteret, N.J., and Lakewood, Ohio.  When the community of Sisters of Christ the Teacher disbanded, she transferred to the Benedictine Sisters of the Byzantine Church at Queen of Heaven Monastery in Warren, Ohio in 1973.  Sister Mary John taught elementary grade students at SS. Peter and Paul School, Warren until 1989. For many summers she also volunteered with the Appalachian Project in Vanceburg, Ky. In 1989 she began working with young children at the Benedictine Early Learning (BEL) Center on the property of Queen of Heaven Monastery.  When the BEL Center closed, Sister Mary John volunteered as a teacher aide at the Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Warren from 1999 to 2007.  In 2009 she was one of the two honorary co-chairs for the Retirement Fund for Religious appeal in the Diocese of Youngstown.  She celebrated her silver jubilee of religious profession in 1985 and her golden jubilee in 2010.  Sister Mary John was a member of the Greek Catholic Union, the Society of Saint John Chrysostom, the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, and Howland Scope.

Sister Mary John leaves four brothers, Edward, Albert, John, and David Semon, and three sisters, Irene Semon Verbiak, Dorothy Ann Semon Callaghan, and Margaret Semon Rudin.  She was preceded in death by two brothers, Joseph and Michael Semon, and a sister, Mary Semon Moe.

A Parastas was celebrated Wednesday evening, Dec. 26 at SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Warren by Very Reverend Andrew J. Deskevich, chancellor of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and pastor of the parish. Mary Beth Byers cantored the service.

The Funeral Divine Liturgy was concelebrated at SS. Peter and Paul Church on Thursday, Dec. 27 by Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla, Very Reverend Andrew J. Deskevich, and Abbot Leo R. Schlosser of Holy Trinity Monastery, Butler, Pa. and pastor of St. John the Baptist Church, Lyndora.  Also present were Reverend Monsignor Alexis E. Mihalik, pastor emeritus of Infant of Prague Byzantine Catholic Church in Boardman, Ohio, Reverend Robert J. Karl, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle
Church, Gibsonia, Pa., and Reverend Christopher R. Burke, pastor of Infant Jesus of Prague Church.

Family members present included Edward and David Semon; Irene, Frank, Cathy and Bob Verbiak; Margaret Rudin; Karen and Kerrie Riegel; and Tonda Gaddy. Besides the sisters of her religious community, Sister Valeria Evanyo, OSBM and Sister Elaine
Kisinko, OSBM of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great, Uniontown, Pa. attended, as well as Sister Mary Ann Diersing, OSU of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.  Also present were members of St. Benedict Auxiliary, the Oblates of St. Benedict, the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, and the Society of St. John Chrysostom, as well as parishioners and friends.  The committal service took place at SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Warren, followed by a repast at Enzo’s Restaurant.

Sister Mary John enjoyed life and God’s blessings.  She was a strong-minded, gifted woman, enjoying books, quiz shows, word puzzles, opera, ballet, art museums, sports, plants, vegetable gardening, yoga, arts and crafts, traveling with Scope, the annual pilgrimage to Uniontown, and the activities of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. She also volunteered at the St. Vincent DePaul Dining Hall in Warren.

Sister Mary John had a deep spirituality and love for prayer. In her last days which often were filled with pain, she asked to receive the Sacraments as often as possible.  As Father Andrew remarked in his homily, she left a mark on the lives of many.

Grant, O Lord, to the nun Sister Mary John blessed repose and eternal memory.

_sr_alphonsa_1357589467Sister Alphonsa Danovich, OSBM

November 26, 2012

Former General Superior of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great

UNIONTOWN — Untimely for those she left behind, but according to God’s good time, Sister Alphonsa Danovich was called home to God in the early hours of Monday, November 26, 2012. She had spent a wonderful week with her sister and brother-in-law, Magdaline and Bill Ostheim, who were celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary. Johnstown, the place of her birth, also was destined in God’s plan to be the place from which she entered into new life. The joy which she shared with her family, though dimmed by the sudden turn of events, was to be a precursor of the joy awaiting her when God received her into His eternal embrace.

The youngest daughter of the late John and Julia (Dzmura) Danovich, Sister Alphonsa was christened Catherine at her baptism. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Johnstown, Pa., on Sept. 16, 1951. She pronounced her First Vows on April 4, 1954, and made her Final Profession on Aug. 15, 1957 in the presence of Archbishop Nicholas T. Elko of blessed memory.

Her 80 years of life, 61 of which she spent as a Sister of St. Basil, were filled with diverse ministries and rich experiences. From 1954 until 1971 Sister Alphonsa served as a teacher in the parish schools of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Province [Archeparchy] of Pittsburgh.

It was in the summer of 1971 that her life and ministry as a Basilian Sister took an unexpected turn when she learned that she had been elected as the General Treasurer of the Order with headquarters in Rome, Italy. Neither she nor anyone knew that most of the remaining years of her life would be spent in Rome, first as General Treasurer, then working in the Vatican Office of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.
After serving as a General Councilor, Sister Alphonsa was elected to the position of General Superior in 2001.  At the completion of her term of office, she returned to the Monastery in Uniontown. After a sabbatical year, she accepted her final call to ministry as the Assistant Finance Officer for the Eparchy of Phoenix in Arizona.

Wherever Sister Alphonsa served, she did so unreservedly; giving herself heart and soul to her work for the Province, for the Order, and for the Church. In fact, in recognition of her service to the Church and the Holy See, she was presented the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” award in 1995 by the late Pope John Paul II. Although she treasured this honor, what she wanted to be remembered most for was her acceptance of the events in her life, for sharing, trusting and loving. She will surely be remembered for this as well as for her generosity, her kindness, her loyalty to and love for her community, her family and her many friends.  She was incredibly thoughtful in remembering birthdays, feast days, anniversaries and special events with a card or a phone call. Any and every gift would be acknowledged within a few days in the same manner.

Her many nieces and nephews cherished the times she spent with them and regarded her as the binding force in their extended family. All who worked with her were inspired by her strong faith and by her willingness to be of help to anyone in whatever way she could.

Metropolitan William under-scored this in his remarks, noting that all the people whose lives Sister Alphonsa touched would have a different story to tell of her great hospitality. Sister Alphonsa was the “go-to person” when anyone needed anything in Rome. Whether it was getting a papal blessing or a ticket to an audience in the Vatican, or being a personal tour guide, she was a valuable resource. So widespread was her influence that if Sister Alphonsa was not able to fulfill a request, she usually knew someone who could, and she would point you in the right direction. While this was true on a practical level, it is also true that Sister Alphonsa, as a woman of faith, was a vital part of the life of the Church, of her family and of her friends, bringing to all a joyful spirit.

Father Wesley Izer in his remarks at the Parastas, noted that while Sister shared the benefits of her experience in Rome, her greater gift was that she helped put things in perspective and gave those with whom she worked the opportunity to laugh a lot.  Whether she was “working the room” at the Parish Fish Fry in Phoenix or organizing the files in the Finance Office, she was doing God’s work all the time. Since this is so, we can feel confident that in entering into glory, Sister Alphonsa surely heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . . Enter into the joy of your Master.”

Sister Alphonsa was preceded in death by her parents, brother John, sisters Helen (Kohan) and Anna (Brezovec). In addition to the members of her community, she is survived by two sisters, Mary Slonka, and Magdaline (Bill) Ostheim, and many devoted nieces, nephews and their families.

Relatives and friends were received at the Monastery Chapel on Friday, Nov. 30 from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The Parastas Service was celebrated by Very Rev. Eugene P. Yackanich. Concelebrants were Rt. Rev. Wesley Izer, SDB (with whom Sister Alphonsa worked in her last ministry); Rev. Joseph Jugan; and Monastery Chaplain, Rev. Michael Huszti. Sister Alphonsa’s nephew, Deacon James Danovich assisted. In attendance were Archpriest Dennis Bogda, Rev. Robert Karl, and Rev. Stephen Wahal. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla on Saturday, Dec. 1 in the Monastery Chapel. Concelebrants were Rt. Rev. Wesley Izer, Rev. Joseph Kapusnak, Rev. Carl Spisak, and Monastery Chaplain, Rev. Michael Huszti, with Deacon James Danovich, Deacon Michael Mandelas, and seminarians Michael Bezruchka and Lewis Rabayda assisting. In attendance were: Rev. Frank Firko, Rev. Robert Oravetz, Rev. James Spontak, and Deacon Brian and Janet Escobedo. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_sr_isidore_1357589353Sister Isidore Marhunic, OSBM

November 20, 2012

Sister of St. Basil for nearly 66 years

UNIONTOWN, PA — The heavenly ranks were increased in number on the prefestive day of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple. Early that morning of Nov. 20, 2012, Sister Isidore made her own personal entrance into the eternal temple. As she was very devoted to the Mother of God, it was a fitting day for Sister Isidore to complete her earthly journey. The daughter of the late George and Marie (Romanko) Maruhnic, Sister Isidore was born in what was then Czechoslovakia, and given the name Veronica at baptism. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. George Byzantine Catholic Church in Linden, N.J. on Feb. 15, 1947. Sister Isidore pronounced her First Vows on Dec. 9, 1948 and made her Perpetual Profession on Aug. 28, 1953 in the presence of the late Bishop Daniel Ivancho.

As a Sister of St. Basil for almost 66 years, Sister Isidore spent about half of that time working in culinary arts in the Monastery, at St. Basil’s Home, at Mount Macrina Manor, or at missions throughout the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Province of Pittsburgh. Other years were spent in the ecclesiastical sewing department, lovingly putting to good use her talent in the making of vestments and other ecclesiastical appointments. She eventually managed this department before ill health required her retirement. Sister Isidore’s handiwork can be seen in the many churches of our Metropolitan Church, giving evidence of her giftedness and expertise.

One of Sister Isidore’s favorite activities during the many years that her ministry placed her at the Mount was her daily walk to the Lourdes Grotto.  Often she was accompanied by one her friends among the Sisters, both of whom would be praying the Rosary as they walked along the way.  Later in the evening, Sister Isidore could be found praying in the Chapel. When she became a resident at Mount Macrina Manor a little over two years ago, the Chapel there was also one of her favorite places to be. She was very generous with her time in helping anyone who needed to have some sewing done; her kindness in this regard will not be forgotten by those who benefited from it. Sister Isidore was a very comfortable person to be with; one always had the sense that she was very much at home wherever she found herself. This quality is surely one that she carried to her heavenly home.

Rather than eulogize the life of Sister Isidore, Father Eugene invited those present to join him in a meditation on the fact of death.  Among other points he made, Father Eugene stated “None of us know when he or she will die. The one who is most healthy among us may go tomorrow; the most infirm may be present for all of our funerals. We don’t know.”  He went on to say that if we did know, for example, that we had a week yet to live, the thought of facing God would cause us, instinctively, to take inventory of our souls, and, whatever we would find lacking by way of virtue, we would certainly seek to supply. “But our Divine Teacher has instructed us to live so every day, with each succeeding day serving to increase our virtues both in quantity and in quality.”

Especially during the last years of her life, Sister Isidore was aware that her journey was coming to an end. She bore the discomforts and the pains of her last illness without complaining and with patience, laying up for herself treasures in heaven. She heeded the words of scripture quoted by Father Eugene during his reflection: “Watch, therefore, for you do not know at what hour your Lord is to come.” When the Lord did call her, Sister Isidore did not go before the Lord empty-handed, but bearing the beautiful virtues of simplicity, a deep faith, a generous spirit and fidelity to her holy vocation.

Sister Isidore was preceded in death by her parents, brother Peter and sister Anne (Staryak). In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her beloved sister Barbara Dellisante and several nieces and nephews.

The Parastas Service was celebrated Friday, Nov. 20 by Father Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain. Father Ronald Larko also was in attendance. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Very Rev. Eugene P. Yackanich Saturday, Nov. 24 in the Monastery Chapel. Concelebrants were Father Michael Huszti and Father Stephen Wahal. In attendance were Father Jerome Botsko, Father Ronald Larko and Deacon John Hanchin.  Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_sherman_1357589253Father Gary David Sherman

November 2, 2012

Oklahoma mission priest called to eternity

Served Tulsa Area Byzantine Community

Father Gary David Sherman, a bi-ritual priest serving the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh fell asleep in the Lord on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, after suffering a heart attack. He was 62.

A native of Temperance, Mich., he was born Jan. 17, 1950. Schools attended include Bedford High School in Temperance, Wittenburg University in Springfield, Ohio and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He served as a pastor to several Lutheran churches in Indiana and Pittsburgh, Pa. Converting to Catholicism in 1982, he then moved his family to Tulsa, Okla. to receive Catholic Ordination. Throughout his time in Tulsa, Father Gary served many different parishes and touched many lives. Possessing bi-ritual faculties, he worked with Tulsa area Eastern Catholics to start the Byzantine Rite Catholic Community of St. Athanasius, and a Maronite Rite Catholic Community. His final calling was to serve as a chaplain at St. John Medical Center.

Father Gary is survived by his wife and high school sweetheart, Mary, with whom he enjoyed 40 fruitful years of celebrating life together; six children: Jacob (Kelly), Laura, Gabrielle, Zachary, Joshua (Holly), Maximilian (Kaitlin); and his pride and joy, grandchildren Sydney, Seth, and Elias.

Father Gary loved life, friends, and family. He lived life to the fullest and enjoyed the little things the most: a big rainbow trout, a great bottle of wine, working in his yard, and taking his boat for a spin around the lake.

Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for the repose of his soul Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa.

_atkins_1357589168Father James F. Atkins

October 9, 2012

Parma priest also served Archeparchy

Father James F. Atkins, a priest of the Eparchy of Parma serving within the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, fell asleep in the Lord Tuesday evening, Oct. 9, 2012 in the Hospice Care Center of Copley, Ohio. Father James was 79. He served two of the Archeparchy’s parishes in southeastern Ohio – St. John the Baptist, Mingo Junction, and St. Joseph, Toronto – until his retirement in July of 2011, at which time he became Administrator Emeritus of both parishes.

Father James was born on May 26, 1933 in Cedartown, Ga., son of the late James C. and Addie Smith Atkins. A graduate of St. Meinrad College and School of Theology, Father James was ordained May 28, 1975 and subsequently served as a U.S. Army chaplain for 24 years. His pastoral assignments included St. Jude Church, Sandy Springs, Ga.; St. John Church, Hopeville, Ga.; St. May Church, Rome, Ga.; Holy Family Church, Ga.; Monastery of Our Savior, Steubenville, Ohio; St. Joseph Church, Akron, Ohio; St. Nicholas Church, Barberton, Ohio; St. Michael Church, Akron, Ohio; St. John Church, Minneapolis, Minn.; St. Joseph Church, Toronto, Ohio and St. John the Baptist Church, Mingo Junction, Ohio.

In addition to his parents, Father James was preceded in death by his four siblings, sisters Cordie Mae McInvale, Lucy Dingler and Eunice Atkins and brother, Claude.

Father James leaves seven nieces and nephews, Dolores McInvale, Ronnie Dingler and Jerry Atkins, all of Cedartown, Ga.; Sandra Dupree of Rockmart, Ga.; Claude Atkins, Jr. and Gary Atkins, both of Florida and Debbie Leighty of Michigan; and a sister-in-law, Dorotha Atkins of Rockmart.

Father Atkins lay in repose in St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Toronto Friday, Oct. 12, where the Funeral Service for a Priest Part I was celebrated that evening. St. John the Baptist Church in Mingo Junction received his body on Saturday, Oct. 13; the Funeral Service for a Priest Part II was held that afternoon prior to visitation hours. His body then was transported to Parma, and lay in repose at Holy Spirit Church on Monday morning Oct. 15 prior to the 10 a.m. celebration of the Hierarchical Funeral Divine Liturgy with Bishop John M. Kudrick as the celebrant. Burial followed at Holy Spirit Cemetery in Parma.

_kozloski_1357589092Millie Kozloski

August 25, 2012

PBCAC member reposes

Charter Member Millie Kozloski

It is with great sadness yet glory in the Lord that the Pittsburgh Byzantine Catholic Archieparchial Choir bids farewell to charter member Mildred J. “Millie” (Wasko) Kozloski, who fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday, Aug. 25. Millie was an alto with the Choir since its inception in 1998, and was a faithful and dedicated singer. A member of Ascension of Our Lord Church in Clairton, Pa., she also faithfully served her parish for many years as Eastern Christian Formation Coordinator.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Nicholas M. Kozloski, who also was a PBCAC member and sang tenor. Millie leaves three daughters, Mary Lou Kozloski, Kathryn (Robert) Smith, and Janet (Robert) Heller; also three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren; and sisters, Helen Campbell, Mary Hurney, Dorothy Plavchak and Barbara Laszacs.

Friends were received at the A.J. Bekavac Funeral Home, Clairton, on Monday, August 27, where the Parastas was held that evening. Panachida was celebrated the following day at noon, followed by the Funeral Divine Liturgy at Ascension Church celebrated by parish pastor Father Ivan Mina.

_walker_1357589020Father Anselm Walker, STL

August 16, 2012

Bi-ritual priest, WWII army veteran

On Thursday, August 16, 2012, Reverend Anselm Walker, S.T.L. fell asleep in the Lord. A retired priest of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Father Anselm greatly assisted our Eastern Catholic Churches in Texas in many ways and also served as a bi-ritual priest.

Father Anselm was ordained on May 26, 1956 at St. John Cathedral in Milwaukee, Wisc. In 1959, he became a priest of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, serving as assistant pastor, pastor, and instructor at St. Mary Seminary. He also served in the corrections ministry and as a hospital chaplain. After 1991, he retired as an active priest of the Diocese but remained as Director of St. Basil Byzantine Catholic Center for Eastern Christian Studies in Houston. He held the equivalent of a Master’s Degree in Eastern Christian Studies from John XXIII Center at Fordham University.

A decorated U.S. Army veteran of World War II, Father Anselm was Born Harrison Collins Walker on April 6, 1926 in Polk County, Texas, a son of William George Walker Jr. and Arminta Carrie Martin Walker. Father Anselm was preceded in death by two sisters, Florene Walker Oliver and Nina Alleen Walker Mickelwait Collier; and a brother, William George “Dick” Walker.

Visitation was held Sunday-Monday Aug. 19-20 at at St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church in Houston, where the Liturgy for a priest, parts I and II and Funeral Divine Liturgy were celebrated by St. John pastor Father Elias L. Rafaj. Interment was in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.

_sidor_1357588942Father Sidney A. Sidor

August 14, 2012

Priest of Parma Eparchy spent formative years at Nativity Church, Du Bois

INDIANAPOLIS — Father Sidney “Sid” Sidor, 84, peacefully fell asleep in the Lord the morning of August 14 at Hooverwood Jewish Home. Father Sid’s pres-byteral career began as an altar boy in Nativity of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in DuBois, Pa., where he served throughout his formative years. Father Sid received a degree in Chemistry from Penn State University and later served in the United States Army as an officer prior, during, and after the Korean War – a total of 14 years.  Following his service, he held corporate positions in the field of chemical engineering and also was a labor relations specialist and advocate.

A widower with four children, he soon left the realm of secular work and entered the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wisconsin in the later years of his life. He received a Master’s degree in Divinity and was ordained a priest for the Eparchy of Parma on June 19, 2004 at the age of 76. Father Sid was assigned to Holy Spirit Church in Parma, Ohio as a Parochial Vicar and subsequently was assigned to Saint Athanasius the Great Byzantine Catholic Church in Indianapolis, Ind.

Father Sidney leaves a son, three daughters, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation and services for a priest parts I and II were held Thursday and Friday Aug. 16-17 at St. Athanasius Church in Indianapolis. Funeral with Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated Saturday Aug. 18. Interment was on Monday, Aug. 20 at Queen of Heaven cemetery, McMurray, Pa.

andrew_ragan_1357937542Cantor Andrew Ragan

July 21, 2012

Father of priest journeys home to God

Andrew Ragan falls asleep in the Lord on his 88th birthday

Mr. Andrew Ragan, father of Reverend James A. Ragan, fell asleep in the Lord at his Youngstown, Ohio home Saturday morning, July 21, 2012, on his 88th birthday.

A lifelong Youngstown area resident, Andrew was born July 21, 1924, a son of John and Elizabeth Dudas Ragan.

He graduated in January of 1943 from Chaney High School, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He subsequently worked in the Blast Furnace Office, Sinter Plant, and Maintenance Spare Parts Departments of U.S. Steel Corp., retiring in 1981 after 38 years of service. He then was hired by Republic Steel as an expediter and supervisor at the Youngstown Sinter Plant, retiring from there in 1985.While working for U.S. Steel, he served as a Loan Officer for the Ohio Works Federal Credit Union.

Mr. Ragan also was an active and lifelong member of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Youngstown, where he served as a councilman and on the Parish Advisory Board. He was a cantor, a member of the St. Mary mixed and men’s choirs, the Rosary Society, and the Golden Pillars. He managed festivals, New Years Eve events, and was a volunteer Bingo worker and manager at the church for over 40 years.

Andrew was a member of the Greek Catholic Union (GCU) Bowling League and the St. Mary Golf League, and he was a member of the GCU Fraternal Society Lodge No. 164, serving at various times as secretary, treasurer and president. He was president of GCU District Three for five years and was inducted into GCU District Three Hall of Fame for his dedicated service.

Mr. Ragan leaves his daughter, Patricia A. Ragan of Austintown; two sons, David Andrew Ragan of New York, N.Y. and Father James Andrew Ragan of Charleroi, Pa, who is the Parochial Administrator of Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in Charleroi; a sister Helen Lesigonich; and several nieces and nephews.

His beloved wife, Frances Sopkovich Ragan, whom he married June 17, 1961, entered eternity on April 23, 2005. Three brothers, John Jr., Paul, and Edward Ragan, also are deceased.

Family and friends were received Tuesday, July 24 at Kinnick Funeral Home in Youngstown, where the rosary was recited by the St. Mary Rosary Society, and where the Panachida service took place that afternoon.

Funeral services commenced at 10:30 Wednesday morning at the funeral home, and continued at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Church. Archbishop William C. Skurla presided over the Funeral Divine Liturgy, concelebrated by Father James Ragan, Father Richard Lambert, pastor of St. Mary Church, and Father Andrew Deskevich. Interment with military honors followed at the parish cemetery.

_michalisin_1357588744Reverend Father Gregory J. Michalisin

July 10, 2012

Former pastry chef served Archeparchy for 20 blessed years

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, Reverend Father Gregory J. Michalisin, 59, fell asleep in the Lord peacefully at the home of his sister Margaret in Coraopolis, Pa. following a brief yet courageous battle with cancer. Father Gregory was a son of the late Nicholas and Mary (Bachkor) Michalisin and Erma (Mihalyi) Michalisin; beloved brother of Margaret (Anthony J.) Sanvito of Coraopolis and Nicholas J. (Bonnie) Michalisin of Florida; loving uncle of Rosemary (Larry) Romboski, Anthony V. (Michele) Sanvito, Maryann (Bryan) Mikulich, Margaret (Scott) Harkins, Nicholas J. (Sandra) Michalisin, Jr., Laura (James) Chan, Mark (Renee) Michalisin, and William (Linda) Michalisin. Father Gregory also is survived by 12 great-nieces and nephews and many dear friends.

Father Gregory grew up in Coraopolis, attended St. Joseph Catholic Grade School, and graduated from Coraopolis High School. He was a graduate of Penn State University and The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Prior to entering the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius, he was employed as a pastry chef for many years at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh where his delicious, unique and exquisite pastries were praised and enjoyed by Club members and guests from around the world.

Ordained to the Holy Presbyterate in May 1992 for the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, Father Gregory had served as Deacon and then as Assistant Pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Warren, Ohio. Subsequent assignments included St. John the Baptist Church, Hawk Run, St. Stephen Church, North Huntingdon and St. Mary Church in Herminie, all in Pennsylvania. At the time of his death, Father Gregory was pastor of both St. Mary Church in Windber, and SS. Peter and Paul Church in Jerome, where he served for the past seven years. Father Greg served the Archeparchy as a member of the Priests’ Pension Board and as a notary on the Tribunal. He also was a Past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Council # 2555 and a Knight of the 4th Degree.

Family and friends were received on Friday and Saturday July 13 and 14 at the Anthony J. Sanvito, Inc. Funeral Home, in Coraopolis. Father Gregory’s body was then received and lay in state at his home parish, Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church, McKees Rocks, on Sunday July 15. Visitation and Funeral Service for a Priest parts I and II were held Sunday and Monday July 15-16. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the church Tuesday July 17 by Most Reverend William C. Skurla, Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh, and attended by numerous priests, deacons and religious of the Archeparchy, family and friends. Interment followed in St. Mark Cemetery, Kennedy Township, Pa.

marker_1357935557Pani Mira Badovinac

June 25, 2012

Wife of Late Pastor Father Marko

Mira Badovinac, 86, of Harrisburg, Pa. fell asleep in the Lord Monday, June 25, 2012. Pani Mira was born Feb. 18, 1926, a daughter of Paul and Anna (Segedi) Gvozdanovic. She was preceded in death by her parents and by her husband, Rev. Marko Badovinac, who served St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church in Leisenring, Pa. for many years. Pani Mira leaves her children, Ann Paris; Vera (Richard) Kocan; Myra (Joseph) Harim; John (Missy) Badovinac; and Patti (Biggs); 17 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Vesna Mikulec.

Friends were received and the Parastas was held Wednesday, June 27 at the Stephen R. Haky Funeral Home Inc. in Uniontown, where the Panachida also was held the following morning. Funeral Divine Liturgy followed at 10 a.m. at St. Stephen Church, celebrated by current pastor Father Joseph Kapusnak. Private interment followed at St. Stephen Cemetery, Leisenring.

With Pani Mira by his side, Father Badovinac served St. Stephen Church from 1954 until his death in 1984. Although many of St. Stephen’s parishion-ers were from Eastern Slovakia,  the parish fondly was often referred to as a “Žumbercani” church (from the Žumberak region of Croatia) because of the couple’s ethnic heritage and lengthy pastorate.

_sr_vera_1357588518Sister Vera Stanchec, OSBM

May 13, 2012

A pleasant, gentle, prayerful woman

Early Sunday morning, May 13, 2012, Sister Vera Stanchec traveled peacefully to her final destination, the fullness of life with her God.  Ninety-six years ago, Sister Vera, born to Michael and Eva (Wanik) Stanchec in Mt. Carmel, Pa., was baptized Olga.  Sister Vera entered the Sisters of St. Basil in its early founding years, on July 10, 1932 in Factoryville, Pa., from St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Hazleton, Pa.  She made her Profession of First Vows on Dec. 4, 1934 and her Solemn Profession of Vows on Nov. 28, 1940 in the presence of Bishop Basil Takach of blessed memory.

For 80 years, Sister Vera had followed her call to consecrated life as a Sister of St. Basil the Great with a great deal of zeal and enthusiasm.  From 1936 through 1986, Sister Vera diligently ministered as a teacher and principal in both elementary and secondary levels in parish schools of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh and at Mount St. Macrina Academy in Uniontown. She also served in Provincial Administration as councilor and Province Secretary.

Sister Vera was particularly gifted in the areas of science and math.  She received a Master of Arts degree from Fairfield University and had the opportunity to participate in a National Science Foundation in Biology special training program for several years.  Sister Vera extended herself to her students while excelling in leadership skills.  No task was ever too challenging; she always commanded the same excellence of herself that she did of her staff, and her students. To this day, many former students speak of Sister Vera as being a favorite teacher that they fondly remember and to whom they owe a debt of gratitude.

In 1986, Sister Vera ministered at Mount Macrina Manor as receptionist along with other related work there.  For the past eight years, Sister Vera was called to a more contemplative period of her life, as she became less active, but not less lively, as a resident of Mount Macrina Manor.  Sister Vera was loved by staff as a pleasant, courteous, gentle, and prayerful woman.  She never failed to whisper a “thank you” for every service rendered. Her beautiful smile always accompanied her expression of gratitude. Any thank-you note she wrote was sure to contain several little nuggets of spiritual wisdom or encouragement.

Very Rev. Andrew Deskevich opened his homily at the Funeral Divine Liturgy with the words, “Today, our Byzantine Church celebrates the leave-taking of the Feast of Pascha. Today, Sister Vera celebrates the leave-taking of her earthly existence to her eternal existence.”  Sister Vera fell asleep in the Lord on the Sunday of the Man Born Blind. Just as his eyes were opened to the wonders of creation, Sister Vera’s eyes were opened to the wonders of eternity. What a wonderful day that was for her!

On her request form, Sister Vera noted that her motto in life was: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffers the loss of his soul?”  Asked how she wanted to be remembered, she responded, “That I loved God, my calling, my family and my community.” Father Andrew noted that her life was a testament to all of that and to the fact that our entire earthly existence is a journey toward eternal salvation.

Sister Vera was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved brothers John and Samuel, and two sisters, Mary and Catherine.  In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by one sister, Ann Primiano, of East Rutherford, N.J., and several nieces and nephews.

The Parastas Service was celebrated on Tuesday, May 15 by Rev. Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain; concelebrants were Archpriest John G. Petro and Rev. Joseph Kapusnak. Rev. James Ragan was in attendance.  The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Very Rev. Andrew J. Deskevich, Chancellor of the Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, May 16 in the Monastery Chapel. Concelebrants were Rev. Michael Huszti and Rev. Joseph Kapusnak. In attendance were Archpriest Dennis M. Bogda, Archpriest John G. Petro, Rev. James Spontak and Rev. Stephen Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_procyk-ida_1357588445Ida M. Procyk

May 5, 2012

Sister of Archbishop reposes

The sister of +Archbishop Judson of blessed memory, Ida M. Procyk fell asleep in the Lord early Saturday morning May 5, 2012 following an illness of several months.

Visitation and Parastas were held Monday, May 7 at the Kezmarsky Funeral Home in Uniontown, Pa. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Tuesday morning, May 8 at St. John the Baptist Church in Uniontown by Father Ronald P. Larko, pastor; Archbishop William C. Skurla presided. Members of the Archieparchial Choir, which Archbishop Judson founded, sang responses with the parish cantor.

Interment was at Mount St. Macrina Cemetery, where choir members bade farewell with the singing of “Anhel Vopijaše.”

_sr_dorothy_1357588369Sister Dorothy Sevachko, OSBM

April 14, 2012

Educator taught for nearly 40 years

Sister Dorothy Sevachko, OSBM (formerly Sister Dolores) went peacefully home to the Lord in the early evening of Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at Mount Macrina Manor. She had been a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great for 65 years. Sister Dorothy was born in Campbell, Ohio, the daughter of the late Michael and Victoria (Backus) Sevachko. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio on Oct. 9, 1947. Sister Dorothy pronounced her First Vows on Aug. 16, 1949 and made her Perpetual Profession on Aug. 28, 1953 in the presence of the late Bishop Daniel Ivancho.

Sister Dorothy’s ministry mirrors that of so many of the Sisters who taught in the parish schools of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh. For a span of almost 40 years, numerous youngsters in the intermediate grades were blessed to have Sister Dorothy as their teacher and principal.  Many summers were spent in catechetical ministry in parishes where there were no day schools. Her apostolate of teaching was interrupted for about five years during which she cared for her aging mother. In later years, she assisted in several of the parish schools in a part-time capacity or as a tutor or teacher’s aide. In 2005, Sister Dorothy retired from active ministry for health reasons. She accepted this change in her life with simplicity and patience as God’s will for her at this time.

Sister Dorothy was one of three sisters from St. Nicholas Parish in Youngstown, Ohio who left family and friends to answer God’s invitation. This was a significant gift to the Church, and one which is highly unusual in our entire Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, noted Metropolitan William at the Funeral Divine Liturgy: “God only knows the effect of Sister’s teaching and the special way she touched lives, and perhaps even changed them.” Drawing upon the need for others to take up this unique call, the Archbishop asked those present to pray for vocations, especially during this time when our Church is engaged in the “Called by Name” program.

Although Sister Dorothy was small in stature, she was always the “big” sister to her two siblings, Sister Leocadia and Sister Bernarda. As the oldest in the family, Sister Dorothy graciously delayed following her call to the Sisters of St. Basil in order to be assured that her mother would be well-situated. In the last days of her life, it was Sister Dorothy’s turn to be cared for, and she was blessed to have both of her sisters at her side during this sacred time.  While holding their hands, Sister Dorothy entered into eternity hearing them sing her favorite Marian hymn.

Father Michael Huszti shared some thoughts about Sister Dorothy at the conclusion of the Funeral Divine Liturgy. Having taught at St. Nicholas Parish School in Lorain, Ohio, Sister Dorothy always asked about Father Michael’s nephews and niece who were her students there. As chaplain at the monastery for the past four years, Father Michael was able to observe Sister Dorothy in a different light. He noted that she possessed an inner peaceful calmness and joy, and that her life was an expression of the Psalmist’s words, “I busy myself not with great things, nor with things too sublime for me. . . rather, I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child. . . .” These words surely described the last moments of Sister Dorothy’s earthly life when she was gathered into the loving embrace of her Divine Lord and Savior.

Sister Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents; a sister, Marie, who died during childhood, and a brother, Matthew. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her devoted sisters, Sister Leocadia, OSBM and Sister Bernarda, OSBM; sister-in-law Ann Sevako; nephew Ronald; niece Rosalyn Hulbert (Terrance); grandnephew Doug-las and grandniece Alissa.

The Parastas Service was celebrated on Friday, April 27 by Very Rev. Eugene Yackanich with concelebrants Very Rev. Richard Lambert, Monastery Chaplain Rev. Michael Huszti, and Rev. David Shortt, pastor of Sister Dorothy’s home parish in Youngstown, Ohio. In attendance were Rev. Ronald Larko, Rev. Stephen Wahal, Rev. Thomas Wesdock, and Franciscan Father John Joseph of St. Anthony Friary in Uniontown, Pa. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William Skurla on Saturday, April 28 in the Monastery Chapel. Concelebrants were Very Rev. Richard Lambert and Rev. Michael Huszti. In attendance were Rev. Msgr. Alexis Mihalik, Rev. Ronald Larko, Rev. Christopher Burke and Rev. James Ragan. Interment was in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_sr_dorothyann_1357588299Sister Dorothy Ann Gayden, OSBM

March 27, 2012

Sister Dorothy Ann Gayden, OSBM called home to the Lord

Sister Dorothy Ann Gayden completed her life’s journey at Mount Macrina Manor in the early afternoon of Tuesday, March 27, 2012. She had been a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 63 years.

Sister Dorothy Ann was born in Hammond, Ind., a daughter of the late George and Ann (Viner) Gayden. She entered the community from Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in East Chicago, Ind. on Sept. 15, 1949. Sister Dorothy Ann pronounced her First Vows on Aug. 25, 1951 and made her Perpetual Profession of Vows on Aug. 29, 1954 in the presence of the late Bishop Daniel Ivancho.

Sister Dorothy Ann’s ministry placed her in many parish schools of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Pro-vince of Pittsburgh. There she devoted her time as both teacher and principal for nearly 40 years. Sister Dorothy Ann had especially fond memories of the years she spent teaching the physically and mentally challenged students for the local Intermediate Unit I, then based at Mount St. Macrina. Her affection for God’s special children led her to a further teaching engagement at Rose-Mary Center in Euclid, Ohio. Sister Dorothy Ann’s full time teaching ministry was brought to a close when it became necessary for her to care for her mother for a number of years.

Following her mother’s death, Sister Dorothy Ann spent some years as a tutor and teacher’s aide as well as in parish ministry. She also served as the administrator of St. Basil’s Home for a year. Sister Dorothy Ann then returned to the monastery where she offered her services in the library and in other clerical duties. Finding more time on her hands, she added volunteering at Mount Macrina Manor to her schedule, putting her talents to use in the medical records department. It was evident that she enjoyed the time spent in learning all that this position required of her. In her spare time, Sister Dorothy Ann enjoyed reading, puzzle books and using her computer skills in corresponding with her family and friends. As her health declined, Sister Dorothy Ann recognized her limitations, and she requested to be transferred from the monastery to Mount Macrina Manor, where she lived the final chapter in her life’s journey.

Father Eugene Yackanich celebrated the Funeral Divine Liturgy on Lazarus Saturday in the monastery Chapel. He noted that he was especially appreciative of the years Sister Dorothy Ann spent as teacher in St. John’s Parish in Uniontown while he was pastor there.  Alluding to this time, Father Eugene touched upon the spirit of compassion shining forth in Sister’s care of her mother and in all of her ministries.

Father Eugene’s homily focused on the three commands of Jesus in the gospel for Lazarus Saturday: “Roll away the stone; come forth; untie him and set him free.”  For Sister Dorothy Ann, Jesus had already rolled away the stone of her lengthy illness and suffering. He then called her to “come forth” into the new life that He had prepared for her, as this is the life she had been anticipating for many years. Finally, the third command: Unbind her! “That is what we are doing now in this funeral service,” stated Father Eugene. “We pray over and over again for the mercy of God that she be forgiven and healed from whatever may have bound her. Our prayers are our gift to her at this time,” he continued, saying that it is a gift which we continue to give as we pray that Sister Dorothy Ann find the peace and rest that only Christ can give us.

As the last member of her immediate family, Sister Dorothy Ann was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Edward and her sister Betty Jane Holt. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her two devoted nieces and nephew and many cousins. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Saturday morning, March 31 in the Monastery Chapel by Archieparchial Administrator Very Reverend Eugene Yackanich with concelebrants Archpriest John G. Petro and Monastery Chaplain Father Michael Huszti. In attendance were Father Joseph Kapusnak and Father Ronald Larko. Interment was in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_merva_1357588206Brother James J. Merva

March 10, 2012

Monk of Holy Trinity Monastery was Devoted to God, Lover of Animals

Brother James J. Merva, 69, a monk of the Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic Monastery, Butler, Pa. fell asleep in the Lord Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Good Samaritan Hospice at Concordia.

He was born August 12, 1942 in Pittsburgh, a son of John and Dorothy Stueber Merva.

Brother James professed his vows as a Benedictine Byzantine Catholic Monk July 4, 1965 at Holy Trinity Monastery. He remained there, working on the monastery farm for more than 40 years until the farm was closed. He thoroughly enjoyed the animals and all aspects of farming, and also had been in charge of maintenance at the monastery buildings and property.

An outgoing and friendly man, he was devoted to God, to his brothers in community, to his friends and to the many visitors to Holy Trinity Monastery, where Brother James loved the simple monastic lifestyle of prayer and work.  The last four years of his life were spent in declining health that necessitated a two-year residence at Chicora Medical Center and unfortunately, time away from the monastic surroundings he loved.

In addition to his family of Byzantine Catholic Monks at Holy Trinity Monastery, Brother James is survived by a sister, Margaret McAllister and her husband, Robert of California; also one niece, one nephew and 4 great-nieces and great-nephews.

Parastas was held at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, March 15 at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Lyndora, Pa., following which friends were received until early evening. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Friday morning, March 16 at the church. Very Reverend Eugene P. Yackanich, Administrator of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh was the main celebrant; Abbot Leo Schlosser and Father Anselm Orlosky of Holy Trinity Monastery concelebrated.  Interment and burial service was at Mount St. Macrina Cemetery, Uniontown, Pa. Arrangements were facilitated by Geibel Funeral Home, Inc. of Butler.

Memorial donations may be made to Holy Trinity Monastery, P.O. Box 990, Butler, PA 16003, or to the Chicora Medical Center, 160 Medical Center Road, Chicora, PA 16025.

_lambert-helen_1357588093Mrs. Helen Lambert

February 17, 2012

Beloved, devoted mother of priest

Mrs. Helen Lambert, mother of Very Rev. Richard I. Lambert, pastor of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio, fell asleep in the Lord unexpectedly early Friday morning, Feb. 17, 2012, at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown. She was 92.

Born Nov. 22, 1919, Helen, a lifelong Youngstown resident, was a daughter of the late Nicholas and Mary Markovich Zatchok. A 1938 graduate of Chaney High School, she worked at the Girard Diner and Triangle Raincoats before becoming a devoted wife, mother, and homemaker. Helen was a parishioner of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, where she was a member of the Rosary Society, the Rosary Makers, and was a bingo worker. She also worked with the church’s Assumption Social Center as a caterer, and was a member of Greek Catholic Union Lodge 164.

Her beloved husband, Ivan J. Lambert, whom she married on May 31, 1947, passed away Sept. 3, 1984.

Mrs. Lambert leaves her son, Father Richard, with whom she made her home; an adopted brother and nephew, John (Margie) Zatchok; a sister-in-law, Sophie Lambert; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

Besides her husband, preceding her in death were eight brothers, Stephen, John, Michael, Frank, Joseph, George, Nicholas, and Emil Zatchok, and a sister, Ann Machel.

Family and friends were received Monday, Feb. 20 at Kinnick Funeral Home in Youngstown, where the Parastas service was held that evening. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Tuesday morning Feb. 21 at St. Mary Church. Interment followed at the parish cemetery, where Helen was laid to rest next to her husband.

Memorial contributions may be made in Mrs. Lambert’s name to the St. Mary Cemetery Chapel Fund, in care of the church, 356 S. Belle Vista Avenue, Youngstown, OH 44509.

marker_1357935557-1Parents of Father Christopher Burke

January 5, 2012

Parents of Father Christopher Burke enter eternity

Father, Frank David Burke, Jr. and Mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Burke

Frank David Burke Jr., 86, and Elizabeth “Betty” Burke, 86, both longtime Mentor, Ohio residents fell asleep in the Lord within two months of one another.  Mr. Burke was born on June 7, 1925 in Cleveland and entered into eternity on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, at Homestead II in Painesville. Mrs. Burke, also a Cleveland native, was born on Oct. 23, 1927 and died on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 at her daughter Patty’s home in Fairport Harbor.

Both Frank and Betty led very active lives. Mr. Burke was a chemist at Lubrizol Corp. in Wickliffe for 42 years, retiring in 1993. He graduated from Cleveland Heights High School, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and both BS and Master of Science degrees in chemistry from John Carroll University. Mrs. Burke was a homemaker, raising nine sons and one daughter. In her spare time, she was a crossing guard for many years at the intersection of Hart St. and Mentor Ave. for the school children attending St. Mary of the Assumption School.

Married for 63 years, Frank and Betty shared many wonderful things together.  One activity they loved was watching their children and grandchildren at their sporting events.  In addition, Frank loved woodworking and gardening. He was an amateur astronomer and a classical grand pianist. He also was a member of St. Mary of the Assumption Church, in Mentor, and a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II.   Betty enjoyed socializing at the Mentor Eat n Park Restaurant for many years. Her love of nature included her care for her animals, especially her dog, “Wicket.”

Survivors include their children, Patricia Ann “Patty” Matsko of Fairport Harbor, Frank David (Marie) Burke III of Concord, Paul (Sherrie) Burke of Bloomington, Ill., Kerry (Cathy) Burke of Bath, Fr. Christopher R. Burke of Boardman, Jamie (Annette) Burke of Grand River, William “Billy” (Joyce) Burke of Shelby Township, Mich., Peter (Emily) Burke of Montville and Terence “Terry” Burke of Mentor; 24 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren.  Mr. Burke is also survived by his sister, Alberta (Ozzie) Oswald of Cleveland Heights; brother, Raymond (Sally) Burke of Gates Mills; and sister-in-law, Ann Burke of Rocky River.  Mrs. Burke is also survived by a brother, Paul Taylor of Oregon.

Both were preceded in death by their son, Timothy J. Burke; Mr. Burke’s parents, Frank David and Ruth Burke Sr.; and brother, John Burke; Mrs. Burke’s parents Frank and Irma Taylor; and brother, Landon “Lanny” Taylor.

Funeral liturgies were celebrated for Mr. and Mrs. Burke on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 and Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, respectively. Parastas services also were celebrated by Father Christopher in blessed memory of his parents.

_klacik-roberta_1357587885Roberta J. Klacik

October 23, 2011

Wife of Deacon Falls Asleep in the Lord

“So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Mt. 24:44)

Roberta J. Klacik, wife of newly-ordained Deacon Thomas Klacik, unexpectedly fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday, October 23, 2011. She was 63. Born February 13, 1948, in Sewickley, Pa., “Bobbie” (as she was affectionately known) was the daughter of Betty Mull Condit of Leetsdale, Pa. and the late Robert Condit. A parishioner of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Ambridge, she was a member of the parish Rosary Society and was a faithful pirohy worker for many years. Bobbie also was a former nurse’s aide for the D.T. Watson Home in Sewickley, a facility which cared for physically challenged children.

Friends were received Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the John Syka Funeral Home in Ambridge, where a parastas was offered that evening. The Panachida service was celebrated Thursday morning at the funeral home, followed by Funeral Divine Liturgy at St. Mary Church. Very Reverend Eugene P. Yackanich, Administrator of the Arch-eparchy of Pittsburgh, Syncellus for Deacons Very Reverend Dennis M. Bogda, and Father Kevin E. Marks, parish administrator, concelebrated; Deacon Michael George of St. George Church (Aliquippa) assisted. Along with Deacon Michael, the four other newly-ordained deacons of the Class of 2011 were in attendance to lend support and prayers to their classmate Deacon Thomas; he and his fellow deacons were ordained Sunday, Oct. 9, just two weeks before his beloved wife’s sudden passing. Responses were led by the decedent’s brother-in-law, David Klacik, cantor of the parish.

Recalling the biblical ac-count of the Good Samaritan before the church full of Archieparchial and visiting clergy, family, and friends, Father Kevin noted in his poignant homily that “Bobbie truly was a good neighbor – a Good Samaritan . . . she saw the face of Christ in everyone and lived her faith every day.”  Father Eugene also offered his prayers and condolences on behalf of the Clergy, religious and faithful of the Archeparchy. Interment was in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Ambridge.

In addition to her loving husband, Deacon Thomas, surviving are her mother; two sons, Edward Barto and fiancée Michelle Seabolt, both of Ravenna, Ohio, and Robert (Karen) Barto of Virginia Beach, Va.; grandchildren Tommy and Tianna Barto of Ravenna, Ohio; siblings Betty (Vic) Aquino of Economy, Pa., Ken (Barb) Condit of Fair Oaks, Pa., Bill (Tami) Condit of Freehold, N.J., and Connie Bilonick of Maidsville, W.Va.; brothers-in-law, David (Cindy) Klacik of Cranberry Township and Robert (Toni) Klacik of Conway, Pa.; numerous nieces and nephews, and many friends. She was preceded in death by her father and two sisters-in-law, Cathy Kokan and Pamela Klacik.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the Byzantine Catholic Seminary.

_cholewinski_1357587801Deacon Stanley Cholewinski, Jr.

August 28, 2011

Compassionate man of strong faith and conviction

Father Deacon Stanley Cholewinski, Jr., 65, of Birmingham, Ala. fell asleep in the Lord Saturday, Aug. 28, 2011. He was ordained to the Diaconate at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary Nov. 16, 2003 for the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. During his ministry he proudly served the parish community of St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Birmingham for eight years.

Deacon Stan also served his country as a member of the United States Air Force. Later, he became Scoutmaster and Chaplain for Boy Scout troops 335 and 226, earning entry into the Order of the Arrow.

Father Deacon Stan was a man of strong faith and conviction; he was a loving, kind, caring, compassionate husband, father, grandfather, brother and Godfather. Although he is in a place “with no pain, sorrow nor mourning,” he will be greatly missed by all who loved him.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Stanley and Thelma Cholewinski. Surviving are his loving wife of 42 years, Rose Cholewinski; children, William Cholewinski (Stephanie), Ann Roth (Lenny), and Nathaniel Cholewinski; grandchildren Marley, Riley and Sophie; siblings, Ronnie Cholewinski, Dianne Cholewinski, Dennis Cholewinski (Sun Hui), Beverly Jinks, Ricky Cholewinski (Patty) and Pam Mitchell, as well as cherished uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and all God’s children. Funeral services were held Thursday morning Sept. 1 at St. George Melkite Catholic Church in Birmingham. Deacon Stan was laid to rest at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. The family respectfully requests that donations in Deacon Stan’s memory be made to the St. George Building Fund, c/o 425 16th Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35205.

_sr_madeline_1357587696Sister Madeline Boback, OSBM

August 9, 2011

Faithful servant devoted life to God

Sister Madeline Boback, OSBM went peacefully home to the Lord early Tuesday evening, Aug. 9, 2011 at Mount Macrina Manor. She had been a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 63 years.

Sister Madeline was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., daughter of the late Michael and Catherine (Krawchak) Boback. A former member of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., she entered the community on Sept. 15, 1948, pronounced her First Vows on Aug. 15, 1950 and made her Final Profession on Aug. 28, 1953 in the presence of the late Bishop Daniel Ivancho.

Although her main purpose in entering the community was not to be a teacher, she brought these qualifications with her to the community and like many others, was assigned to the ministry of teaching and/or principal for a good part of her religious life.  Her many students will testify that while she was strict as a teacher, she always was fair. She had a listening heart and was well-loved by those who passed through her classes. Sister Madeline could make even Shakespeare palatable with her dramatic readings of his plays. She especially treasured the students of Mount St. Macrina Academy and looked forward with delight to their visits when they attended the Alumnae Reunions.

Valued for her discretion and integrity in the fulfillment of all her assignments, Sister Madeline served in the administration of the Province as Assistant Provincial for two terms, and also served as Provincial Secretary and School Supervisor. Other assignments included editor of The Voice magazine; assisting with secretarial duties at the Generalate in Rome; the Card and Prayer Department at the Monastery; parish office work in McKees Rocks, Pa.; and Administrative Secretary for the Eparchy of Phoenix.

Writing about her desire to take the next step in her early years in religious life, Sister Madeline wrote,  “. . . I rely fully on God’s inestimable Mercy and Goodness. I desire nothing save that His Holy Will be accomplished in me and by me all the days of my life. May it please God in His infinite tenderness to look kindly on my request.”  As Sister Madeline gave her life back to God, this request certainly was granted to the fullest.

Father Eugene Yackanich, at whose parish (St. Elias, Munhall, Pa.) Sister Madeline had served as principal and teacher, reflected on the Feast of the Dormition in his homily at the Divine Liturgy.  He quoted the beautiful and very meaningful words taken from the Vespers Service for the Feast: “O what a wonder! The Source of Life is placed in a tomb . . . the grave becomes a ladder to heaven . . .” Our prayer is that Sister Madeline also passes through the grave which becomes a ladder for her to enter into the joy of God’s kingdom.

Father Eugene went on to speak of Sister Madeline as he knew her, a quiet and gentle person, an excellent teacher and administrator, who always excelled at whatever she was asked to do. More importantly, he noted, so many of her students saw her as a mentor – a duchovna mama – literally, a spiritual mother.  In the Eastern tradition, a spiritual elder is not one who says many words, but one who simply lives the Christian life in a deep communion with God. Sister Madeline’s quiet ways did not draw attention to herself, but they did allow the presence of God to shine through. For this we all give thanks for this gentle “spiritual mother.”

At the repast following the interment, Sister Margaret Ann Andrako, OSBM, who was taught by Sister Madeline in seventh grade and in the Academy remarked, “ Sister Madeline was a born teacher . . . and very eager to see her students learn and achieve.” She continued, “A special and personal memory of mine happened many decades ago, just a few years after the Divine Liturgy began to be celebrated in English. I remember her explaining the Our Father and the few invocations following it, particularly the one: bow your heads to the Lord. She told us that after this invocation, the priest prays for those who have bowed their heads, thus, the importance of the action as we participate. To this day, I often recall her words at this part of the Divine Liturgy.”  Other Academites who were present also shared fond memories of their esteemed teacher, one who then became a beloved friend.

Sister Madeline was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Catherine Eardenberger. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her sister Sylvia Boback and several devoted nieces and nephews.

The Parastas service was celebrated Sunday, Aug. 14 by Archpriest John G. Petro and Father Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain. In attendance were Father Stephen Wahal and Father John Joseph, OFM. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Monday, Aug. 15 by Very Rev. Eugene Yackanich with concelebrants Archpriest John Petro, Very Reverend Joseph Borodach and Father Michael Huszti. In attendance was Father Ronald Larko. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_sr_angela_1357587570Sister Angela Krisfalusy, OSBM

August 9. 2011

Member of Uniontown Province 74 Years

Sister Angela (Helen) Krisfalusy fell asleep in the Lord early Tuesday morning, Aug. 9, 2011 at Mount Macrina Manor. She had been a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 74 years.

Sister Angela was born in Canonsburg, Pa., daughter of the late Charles and Helen (Blyshak) Krisfalusy. She entered the community from St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Canonsburg on Nov. 21, 1937.  Sister Angela pronounced her First Vows on Oct. 3, 1939 and made her Solemn Profession of Vows on Aug. 28, 1945 in the presence of the late Reverend Monsignor John Powell.

During her years in the community, Sister Angela was called to serve in a variety of ministries. Her principal ministry was as a teacher and principal in the many schools then existing in the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh and as a catechist in parishes in the summer. Sister Angela served twice in the administration of the Province. While serving in this capacity, she also discharged the duties of house coordinator during one term; during the other term, she served at St. Basil’s Home for Aging women. Before her complete retirement from active ministry, Sister Angela was sacristan at the Monastery as well as chauffeuring Sisters to their appointments.

Even at the young age of 15, Sister Angela firmly believed in her call to religious life and followed it faithfully over the course of seven decades. Her niece, Sister Josetta Kriss, OSBM, cites Sister Angela’s example as the inspiration for her own vocation. While living at the monastery in semi-retirement, Sister Angela and her dear friend, Sister Frances could often be seen together, whether helping each other in some task or simply enjoying one another’s company. This relationship continued when both became residents at the Manor, and it was touching to see their care for one another. Sister Frances, without question, was among those who welcomed Sister Angela to her new home.

Sister Angela is fondly remembered for a phrase which often was on her lips, undoubtedly coming from her heart. Every translation limps, and this one is no exception. It was a quote she used when faced with a challenge, and one which the Sisters often repeated to her when visiting: “Lord, Lord, who will help us, if not you, Lord!”  This same beloved Lord surely greeted her at her entrance into heaven.

In his homily, Father John Petro began with the theme of the small town of Canonsburg Pa., a town boasting of many famous people such as Perry Como and Bobby Vinton.  But more importantly for our purpose, he noted that there have been six Basilian Sisters from this small town, Sister Angela and her niece Sister Josetta among them.  “God reached them in this small town, but He did not leave them there,” said Father John.  “He called them forth, not just geographically, but spiritually, to grow in ways they never could have imagined.  Their lives touched many others, but they themselves were touched and transformed by their ministries.  And, this is the theme of the feast of the Transfiguration that we are continuing to celebrate. God finds us where we are, but He never leaves us there.  Our challenge is to be open to the calls in our lives, and when we are, we too can be transfigured in ways that we could never have imagined.”

At the mercy meal following the interment, Sister Josetta had some loving and touching memories to share about her dear aunt.  For her, Sister Angela was the person who kept the members of her immediate family informed about significant life events; remembering their birthdays and anniversaries, helping to make every family gathering a time of joy and unity.  As deep as her love and devotion to her natural family was, Sister Angela always spoke of her Sisters in community with the greatest love and admiration.  She was somewhat idealized in Sister Josetta’s mind until she, too entered the community and realized that Sister Angela was really human!  Sister Josetta concluded her remarks by thanking her dear “Auntie” for all of her help and support and for the close relationship they shared.

Sister Angela was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Charles and John and a sister, Anna Finney. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by her niece Sister Josetta, and several devoted nieces and nephews.

The Parastas service was celebrated on Thursday, Aug. 11 by Very Reverend Eugene Yackanich, Administrator of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, with concelebrants Father Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain; Father Joseph Jugan, pastor of Sister Angela’s home parish in Canonsburg; Father James Spontak and Father Thomas Wesdock. In attendance were Archpriest John Petro and Father Ronald Larko. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Friday, Aug. 12 by Father Eugene, with concelebrants Father John and Father Michael. Also in attendance were Father Ronald and Father Stephen Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

marker_1357935557-2Sister Melanie Wanat, OSBM

July 1, 2011

A faithful servant for 79 years

Sister Melanie (Mary) Wanat fell asleep in the Lord early Friday morning, July 1, 2011 at Mount Macrina Manor. She had been a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 79 years.

Sister Melanie was born in Scranton, Pa., daughter of the late Joseph and Anastasia (Mendzak) Wanat.  A member of St. John Byzantine Catholic Parish in Pottstown, Pa., she entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great on July 19, 1932 in Factoryville, Pa. Sister Melanie pronounced her First Vows on Dec. 4, 1934 and made her Solemn Profession on Nov. 28, 1940 in the presence of the late Bishop Basil Takach.

Like many of the Sisters, Sister Melanie served for many years as an educator in many of the parishes of the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, chiefly in the primary grades. Summers were spent pursuing studies or teaching catechetical classes. Following her years of teaching, Sister Melanie also served for a few years at St. Basil’s Home and at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary. Upon retiring to the monastery, Sister Melanie devoted her time to the duties of the sacristan, which she carried out efficiently and with dedication. When she was no longer able to do this, Sister Melanie still kept herself busy doing beautiful handwork. She especially enjoyed needlepoint, and one of her works graces the corridor near the sacristy.

In the earlier years of the Annual Pilgrimage at the Mount, Sister Melanie was often in charge of the children’s procession. Preparing the capes which the children wore and arranging for the flowers which they carried were all attended to with the greatest care. Photos from those years depict a long line of little girls in white dresses and veils or flowers in their hair and little boys in white shirts and dark trousers, marching two-by-two under the watchful eye of Sister Melanie and her helpers.

When declining health made it necessary for her to be transferred to Mount Macrina Manor, Sister Melanie was very accepting of this change in her life. In her final years as a resident there, one could be sure of a welcoming smile from her when visiting. Her prayerful spirit and quiet nature made her an easy person to care for. As often as she could do so, Sister Melanie was present at the Divine Liturgy, adding her voice in praise of the Lord she served so devotedly for nearly 80 years. As she gave back her life to the Lord, all those years of loving service accompanied her.

At the Funeral Divine Liturgy, Father Dennis Bogda drew from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy in speaking about Sister Melanie’s long life as a Sister of St. Basil. He noted that she, too, had fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. For all the ways she so faithfully served the Lord, the crown of righteousness would surely be awarded to her. In concluding his remarks, Father Dennis cited the Prokimenon from the funeral Divine Liturgy, “Blessed is the way on which you go, O soul, for a peaceful place has been prepared for you.”  These words which so fittingly sum up Sister Melanie’s final journey are also words which encourage us as we continue our own earthly pilgrimage.

Sister Melanie was preceded in death by her parents, brothers George, John and Joseph, and sisters Anna Karvetsky and Irene Hovanec. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by several devoted nephews and nieces.

The Parastas service was celebrated by Father Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain; concelebrants were Father Stephen Wahal and Father Thomas Wesdock.  Also in attendance was Father Ronald Larko. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Very Reverend Archpriest Dennis M. Bogda and Father Michael Huszti. Father Ronald Larko and Father James Spontak were in attendance. Sister Melanie’s nephew, Deacon John Wanat, read the epistle. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_sr_philip_1357587332Sister Philip Dzurisin, OSBM

June 1, 2011

Faithfully present in a quiet, gentle manner

As quietly as she lived, Sister Philip (Rita) Dzurisin, fell asleep in the Lord early Wednesday morning, June 1, 2011 at Mount Macrina Manor. She had been a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 63 years.

Sister Philip was born in Pittston, Pa. to George and Mary (Kizlin) Dzurisin.  A member of St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Parish in Pittston, she entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great on Sept. 13, 1948. Sister Philip pronounced her First Vows on Aug. 15, 1950 and made her Solemn Profession on Aug. 28, 1953 in the presence of Bishop Daniel Ivancho of blessed memory.

For nearly 50 years of her life as a Sister of St. Basil, Sister Philip served in the education apostolate as either teacher or principal throughout the parishes of the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh. She taught at every grade level from first through eighth, 32 of those years serving as both teacher and principal. Upon retiring from teaching, Sister Philip returned to the Monastery in Uniontown, where she was first called upon to help in the treasurer’s office. She also kept the financial records for the Vestment Department, the Religious Gift Shop and the Icon and Liturgical Books department. During the Annual Pilgrimage, Sister Philip could be found in the Religious Gift Shop, where she helped as a cashier for many years.

Always unassuming in her manner, Sister Philip could be relied on to be faithful in carrying out the minutest details of her assignments. During the Funeral Divine Liturgy, Father Eugene Yackanich noted in his homily that Sister Philip showed us all that “holiness is simply doing what we are called to do . . . and doing it in a generous and unselfish way.” In her own words, Sister Philip wanted to be remembered for “the privilege of ministering and revealing Christ’s Presence to others, especially for the many years in [her] teaching ministry.”  Revealing Christ’s presence to others was a key facet of Sister Philip’s personality. One particular way in which she did this was in her gift of compassion, whether in listening or in offering words of comfort.

Sister Philip’s deep gratitude for her religious vocation was nourished by her equally deep spirit of prayer. Even after being admitted to the Manor due to illness, Sister Philip could be counted on to remember others in prayer as she joined in spirit with the community at the Monastery for Matins and Vespers. Even though her place in the Monastery Chapel was vacant, her heart remained united with all the Sisters.

Father Eugene concluded his homily with the following remarks: “All who knew Sister Philip also realized that she had a ‘soft spot’ for those who were suffering in any way . . . and this allowed her to accept her own suffering in a courageous way . . . without complaint, but always cheerful . . .always grateful for visits and kind words and prayers. We pray that we may all be as faithful as she was . . . so that we may also be able to take our rightful place at the right hand of the Father in heaven.”

Sister Philip was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Rev. Monsignor George, Joseph, Michael, and John and a sister, Mary Wascavage.  In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by a sister, Sister Paula, OSBM, a brother, Paul and his wife Dorothy, and many devoted nephews and nieces.

The Parastas service was celebrated Friday, June 3 by Archieparchial Administrator Very Rev. Eugene Yackanich with concelebrants Very Rev. Archpriest Dennis M. Bogda, Monastery Chaplain Rev. Michael Huszti, and Rev. Thomas J. Wesdock. In attendance were Very Rev. Archpriest John G. Petro, Rev. Joseph Kapusnak, Rev. James Spontak, Rev. Ronald Larko and seminarian Thomas Slosky. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Father Eugene Saturday, June 4 with Very Rev. Archpriest Dennis Hrubiak (Parma) and Rev. Michael Huszti concelebrating. In attendance were Rev. Joseph Kapusnak and Rev. Stephen Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_smochko_1357587222Monsignor Basil Smochko

December 14, 1919 – May 9, 2011

Longest-ordained priest of the Metropolitan Church

Reverend Monsignor Basil Smochko, a priest of the Eparchy of Parma and the longest-ordained priest in the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, fell asleep in the Lord May 9, 2011 in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 91.

Basil Smochko was born December 14, 1919 to a farming family of modest means in western Ukraine. After graduation from high school, he entered the seminary at Užhorod and was honored to have Father Theodore Romzha as his professor and spiritual director. He subsequently was selected to study at Vatican University in Rome and resided at St. Josephat College. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1944, Seminarian Basil continued his theological studies, and in the wake of WWII was ordained on March 24, 1946 at the age of 26.

Following his ordination and arrival in the U.S., Reverend Basil was appointed rector of the newly-constructed seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pa. He also was instrumental in building Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic School in McKees Rocks in the late 1950s. Monsignor Smochko served parishes in the Cleveland-Lakewood, Ohio area for many years before retiring to southern California. Throughout his retirement, he remained active in celebrating liturgies and helped to serve the spiritual needs of the Byzantine Ruthenian and Ukrainian faithful of the desert communities of southern California as well as the many Ukrainian Canadians who visit there each winter.

Monsignor Smochko recently celebrated the 65th anniversary of his priestly ordination; via writings, he expressed words of thanks for those fruitful years of service:  “I am grateful to Heavenly Father; his Son Jesus, our Savior; Most Holy Mother Mary, for the privilege of priesthood in his church for 65 blessed years! … Thanks to the Holy Father John Paul, who in a meeting with him blessed my teaching at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, also to Bishop Alexander Stojka who sent me to study in Rome from the seminary in Užhorod, Ukraine, where Bishop Theodore was spiritual director … Thanks to my father, Basil, and mother, Mary, for raising me. Thanks to Mother Teresa for her kindness and shaking my hand in Rome. I thank all my bishops, brother priests, Sisters of St. Basil the Great and the faithful I had the privilege to serve throughout these past 65 years.” He concluded, “I ask for forgiveness of anyone that I have offended. You are in my prayers. Lord have mercy!”

Beloved son of Basil and Mary Smochko and brother of Michael and Peter, all deceased, Monsignor Smochko leaves a brother, John (Rita) of Pittsburgh, Pa.; niece Marianne Drasny (Christopher) and great-nephew, Tomash Bokotey of Ohio, and nephew Vladimir Smochko (Meroslava) of Whitey, Canada.

His earthly remains lay in state at Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church, Parma, Ohio on Wednesday, May 18 and Thursday May 19, where the Office of Christian Burial for a Priest also was celebrated each evening. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Friday morning, May 20 by principal celebrant Bishop John M. Kudrick of the Eparchy of Parma. Interment followed at Holy Spirit Cemetery in Parma. Contributions in Monsignor Smochko’s memory may be made to SS. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary, 3605 Perrysville Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15214.

marker_1357935557-3Father Joseph Ridella

February 26, 2011

Retired priest called home to the Lord

Father Joseph Ridella served church across the U.S.

CATHEDRAL CITY, CALIF. — Very Reverend Joseph Ridella, 83, of Cathedral City, Calif. fell asleep in the Lord on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011. Born in Portage, Pa., a son of Peter and Anna (Bobolsky) Ridella, Father Joseph was ordained a priest on Feb. 24, 1952 in Pittsburgh by Bishop Daniel Ivancho. His assignments included pastorates of Byzantine Catholic churches in Gary, Ind.; Nanticoke, Glen Lyon, Lyndora, and McKees Rocks, Pa.; Fontana, Calif.; Parma, Ohio; and San Diego, Calif.

Father Joseph also served the Church in the following capacities: Auditor for the Pittsburgh Matrimonial Tribunal and member of the Ecumenical Commission of the West Coast Deanery (Pittsburgh); member of the Board of Consultors, chairman and director of Liturgical Chant (Parma); consultor, Matrimonial Tribunal Judge, Building Commission, chair-man of Liturgical Music Commission (Van Nuys). Father Joseph retired from full-time parish ministry in 1992, having served for 12 years as pastor of Holy Angels Church in San Diego.

Friends were received Thurs-day, March 3 at Father Joseph’s home parish, SS. Peter and Paul Church in Portage, where the Service for a Priest was offered that evening. Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Friday, March 4 by Bishop William Skurla, Eparch of Passaic and Administrator of the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh. Interment was at SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Portage.

Preceding Father Joseph in death are his parents, brothers Peter, John and Stephen, and a sister, Anna Koza. Father Joseph was the last surviving member of his immediate family. He is survived by sisters-in-law Helen Ridella of Johnstown, Pa. and Irene Ridella of Michigan, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

_sr_frances_1357586763Sister Frances Novak, OSBM

January 24, 2011

Energy, enthusiasm were hallmarks of her ministry

Sister Frances (Pauline) Novak, a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 74 years, was quietly called home to the Lord on Monday evening, Jan. 24, 2011 at Mount Macrina Manor.

Sister Frances was born in Ashley, Pa., a daughter of the late George and Mary (Kvasnak) Novak.  A member of Mary Byzantine Catholic Parish in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., she entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great on July 2, 1937. Sister Frances pronounced her First Vows on Oct. 3, 1939 and made her Solemn Profession on Aug. 28, 1945 in the presence of the late Rev. John Powell.

From 1939, when she first stepped into the classroom at St. Mary’s in Trenton, N.J. until 1998 when she retired from teaching after spending eighteen years at St. Mary’s in Wilkes-Barre Pa., Sister Frances’ teaching career was characterized by her energetic and enthusiastic approach to this apostolate. There was a break in this ministry when she was elected to the administration of the Province. At that time, Sister Frances also served as the coordinator of the Monastery community, a post to which she was asked to return after leaving the teaching ministry.  During the annual Pilgrimage, she spent many years as cashier at the Religious Gift Shop, a behind-
the-scenes but very vital duty.

Always a high-energy person, Sister Frances was known for her great love of community. She is especially remembered for her very active involvement in every aspect of community life. Particularly at community gatherings, her participation was marked by challenges and searching questions, oftentimes leading to a new way of thinking about or looking at the matter under discussion. In this and throughout her life, her loyalty and love for her religious vocation was boundless.

Even after very serious heart surgery, Sister Frances continued to contribute in the many ways that make for pleasant living in community. She was a hard and dedicated worker and could always be depended upon to get done whatever it was that she was asked to do. It was only deteriorating health that brought this very active part of her life to a close. From the end of 2005 until the Lord called her home, Sister Frances was a resident at Mt. Macrina Manor. There her energetic spirit could still be noted. At the Divine Liturgy, she would sing the responses with great enthusiasm, and it was only in the last year of her life that she could not participate in this way.

At Sister Frances’ Funeral Divine Liturgy, Father Eugene Yackanich noted that it was striking that she fell asleep in the Lord in the month of January, a month in which so many of the great teachers of our Church are commemorated, among them St. Basil the Great.  Following his model and those of the other great teachers, St. Gregory and St. John Chrysostom, Sister Frances dedicated her life to the ministry proclaiming the faith she so dearly espoused. Her memory will live on in the lives of her countless students, the teachers she worked with and the lives of all those she touched.

In the Vespers for the Feast of St. Basil the Great, Father Eugene stated that we singwhat we believe: we sing our faith. We sing that Basil, as a bishop, “gladly proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and poured out the teachings of the true faith.” This “singing” of our faith — this proclaiming the Gospel — was very much a part of the life of Sister Frances. Another way in which Sister Frances reflected and lived out the teachings of St. Basil was in her wonderful spirit of hospitality. For all of this, for the gift of her vocation and for her steadfast fidelity for 74 years, she is remembered with gratitude by her community and by our Church.

Sister Frances was preceded in death by her parents, brothers George and Joseph, and sisters Anna Walosin, Mary Walsh, and Helen, Elizabeth and Susan Novak.  In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by several nieces, nephews, and their children.

The Parastas Service was celebrated Friday, Jan. 28 by Father Michael Huszti, Monastery Chaplain, and Father Thomas J. Wesdock. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Saturday, Jan. 29 in the Monastery Chapel by Very Reverend Eugene P. Yackanich, Administrator of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.  Concelebrants were Very Reverend Archpriest John G. Petro and Father Michael Huszti. In attendance were Father Ronald Larko and Father Stephen Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

_sr_mark_1357586737Sister Mark (Bernadine) Swansinger, OSBM

January 1, 2011

Basilian called home to the Lord on 55th anniversary of profession

Sister Mark (Bernadine) Swansinger, a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 61 years, went peacefully home to the Lord on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 at Mount Macrina Manor. It was the 55th Anniversary of her religious profession as a Sister of St. Basil. Her quiet falling asleep in the Lord was very much in keeping with her peaceful and unassuming manner.

Sister Mark was born in Windber, Pa., a daughter of the late John and Susan (Kopchik) Swansinger. A member of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Windber, Pa., she entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great on Sept. 23, 1950. Sister Mark pronounced her First Vows on Nov. 27, 1952 and made her Final Profession on Jan. 1, 1956 in the presence of the late Very Reverend George Bonchonsky.

From her first assignment in 1953 until her retirement in 2000, Sister Mark taught in many of the schools staffed by the Sisters of St. Basil through-out the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and the Eparchies of Passaic and Parma.  She also served briefly in the Van Nuys (now Phoenix) Eparchy at (then) St. Mary Cathedral in Sherman Oaks, Calif.  Following her retirement from the education ministry, Sister Mark helped in many and various ways at the monastery and at the Religious Gift Shop. She served as assistant to the House Director for several years and faithfully carried out her assigned duties with meticulous care.

At the Annual Pilgrimage, Sister Mark could be found at the Dormition Grotto, tending to the requests for vigil lights by the pilgrims who came to pray there. She was very assiduous in seeing that this Shrine and the others on the Mount were well supplied.  Because of Sister Mark’s quiet manner, many of the duties she took care of often went unnoticed. In fact, on her request form, she noted that this was how she wanted to be remembered, for her willingness to help wherever needed. Her faithfulness in doing this became evident only when she had to be admitted to the Manor for health reasons.

At Sister Mark’s Funeral Divine Liturgy, Administrator of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh Very Reverend Father Eugene Yackanich noted that Sister Mark’s funeral took place in the midst of the two radiant Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord. The hymnody of both of these feasts guides us spiritually along that path that leads from one feast to the other. Just as our festive table was filled with all sorts of good food, so our liturgical table is filled with the richness of our liturgical prayer which feeds us all. It was this liturgical and spiritual tradition which formed Sister Mark and which was the means by which she reflected God’s glory in all that she did. She now enjoys an even more radiant Feast as she beholds the Face of God, a treasure which still awaits all of us.

At the mercy meal, following the interment, Sisters of St. Basil Provincial Sister Seraphim Olsafsky noted that contrary to Sister Mark’s quiet ways, the Lord planned for her to leave in style. The monastery chapel was arrayed with all the beauty of the Christmas flowers, lights and trees; the day was beautiful, and there were eight members of the presbyterate to pray for her on her way to her final resting place. How fitting this was since Sister Mark confided to Sister Seraphim that she faithfully prayed for the clergy by name. Sister Mark also had the practice of making an offering for Divine Liturgy for each of the members of the community when they were called home to the Lord. Surely, all of these were there to welcome her to her new place in the Kingdom!

Sister Mark was preceded in death by her parents, brothers John, Joseph, Michael, Andrew and George, and sisters Ann Cronin and Mary Fulir.  In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by a brother, Ted, a sister, Margaret Yarosz, and many devoted nieces, nephews, and their children.

The Parastas Service was celebrated Monday, Jan. 3 by Very Reverend John G. Petro. Concelebrants were Father Joseph Kapusnak and Father Stephen Wahal. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 4 in the Monastery Chapel by Father Eugene Yackanich.  Concelebrants were Father John Petro, Father Joseph Kapusnak, Monastery Chaplain Father Michael Huszti, and Father Gregory Michalisin, pastor of Sister Mark’s home parish in Windber, Pa. In attendance were Father Ronald Larko, Father James Spontak and Father Thomas Wesdock.  Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

marker_1357935557-4Deacon Verlan Kolesar

June 25, 1935 – November 2, 2010

Was 4th Degree Knight of Columbus

Deacon Verlan Kolesar, 75, fell asleep in the Lord Nov. 2 in Dallas, Texas. Funeral Divine Liturgy for was celebrated Saturday, Nov. 6 at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio. Concelebrants were Very Reverend Eugene Yackanich, Administrator of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, Very Reverend Richard Lambert, pastor of St. Mary Church, and parish vocation Father James Ragan. Assisting was Deacon Paul Simko.

Son of the late Michael and Mary (Fiffick) Kolesar, Deacon Verlan was born June 25, 1935 in Youngstown. A 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, he was ordained Oct. 9, 2004 at All Saints Parish in Fort Myers, Fla. by Eparch of Passaic Bishop Andrew Pataki, and served there until February 2009, when he and his wife, Carmela (nee Loscalzo) moved to Plano, Texas to be close to family. Deacon Verlan joined St. Basil the Great Church in Irving, Texas and performed diaconal duties there.

Along with his parents, Deacon Verlan was preceded in death by sisters Kathryn Frechko, Eleanor Lawes and Evelyn Bliss. He leaves nieces Charlotte Maxim of Plano, Texas, Jacqueline Lynch of Philadelphia, Pa. and Jill Sample of Tucson, Ariz.; also, a nephew, Brian Bliss of Knoxville, Tenn.

_brody_1357586432Cantor Basil Brody

August 24, 2010
A man of grace and service
Beloved cantor of 55 years leaves legacy of joyful song
by Mary Huzinec

By my estimation, a person was blessed if he or she had the honor of knowing Basil Brody. The cantor for St. John the Baptist Church on Pittsburgh’s South Side for 55 years died on August 24 at the age of 94 from complications of a fall at Consulate Health Center in North Strabane.

He was one of the most truly spiritual people I have ever known. Basil lived and breathed our faith, and, I believe, his cantoring was a higher calling. When his baritone voice resonated throughout the church, you knew the grace of God was at play.

But for Basil, his faith was so much more than Sunday liturgy. He was gracious and kind, even when his health began to fail. He was always upbeat and curious about everything around him. He helped out with food festivals or whenever the church needed him. And when new people visited our church, he was always the first to welcome them, particularly young people from the local colleges.

When my 10-year-old daughter, Alexandra, and I learned of the passing of Basil Brody, like so many, many people in the Archeparchy, we were deeply affected.  Since we joined St. John’s in 2002, Basil, who was one of my father Andrew Huzinec’s best friends, became our dear friend, too. Alex called him her “adopted” grandfather. As Basil became increasingly frail, Alex, after liturgy each week, raced up to the choir loft to help escort him down the steps to the coffee social in the church hall, where Sunday after Sunday, she sat on Basil’s lap and we soaked up his stories about family, the Old Country – whatever crossed his mind. Often, he would burst into song – a church song, of course, and always in Old Slavonic. And, often, he would get teary-eyed, for those songs meant so very much to him.

Michael Lockman, Basil’s son-in-law and husband of the late Marsha Brody Lockman, recalls his father-in-law’s love for the church. “I have never known a more respected and loved individual,” says Lockman, who is the band director at Canon McMillan High School. “Other than family, church was his entire life. He lived for the Church every minute of every day. If he wasn’t at a liturgy or funeral, at home he was working on his church music.”

Father Thomas Schaefer, pastor of St. John the Baptist, echoes that sentiment. “Basil was constant and devoted – nothing kept him from his ministry as cantor.” He says he was most impressed when Basil was in his 90’s, and effortlessly segued into singing the Archeparchy’s new liturgy.  “With the changes that took place, I was worried about how it might influence Basil’s decision to continue his cantoring – after all, he was advanced in years and the changes were substantial. Despite his age, and failing eyesight, Basil worked tirelessly to learn the changes and help the parish implement them. He was a model for all of us. Grace, openness, and service characterized the life of this good and holy man.”

Father Schaefer added that Basil “took great joy in sharing his knowledge with others. You could clearly see the glow on his face when he saw the successes of Joe Ruglovsky, our present cantor and Basil’s pride and joy.”

Ruglovsky says he is grateful for the patience Basil showed him as he learned how to cantor. “We quickly formed a special partnership and I welcomed every opportunity to learn from Mr. Brody. Even when I made mistakes, he was encouraging.  He said to me, ‘Joe, it is from boo-boos that we learn, do not be afraid to make mistakes – you will be a fine cantor.’”

As Basil’s health began to fail, Ruglovsky would often drive to Basil’s house to bring him to church. “On the way to and from the South Side, he helped me practice the eight tones and Marian hymns in English and Slavonic.”  Ruglovsky created a CD of Basil’s singing, with the help of St. John’s parishioner Vlado Vrbican at the home recording studio of Jeff and Marjie McKee. On the CD, Basil sings, from memory, many of his favorite Carpatho-Rusyn church and folk songs.

Few details about Basil’s long life are available. He was born in Denbo, Pa., a former coal-mining town, near Brownsville. His family, whose original name was Brovdy, moved to the village of Onok, in Ugocha County, Transcarpathia, now western Ukraine, when Basil was around 12. Years later, he made a daring escape to Bohemia when Russian troops were advancing. In 1949 he returned to America, where he met and married Anne Popovich, who still resides at the Consulate nursing home. They had one daughter, Marsha, and two granddaughters: Ashley Marsh, 26, a musician with the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra in Ft. Meyers, Fla., and Brittany, 24, a graduate assistant at Louisiana State University. Basil briefly worked on the railroad, but spent the majority of his working life, 23 years, at North Side Packing Company. But the church and cantoring, was the focal point of his life.

Jerry Jumba, who directed a cantor school in the Archeparchy from 1984 to 1992 at Holy Ghost Church in McKees Rocks, agrees that Basil stood out as cantor. “He meant a lot to his fellow cantors. He had an intelligent and strong sense of cantor unity – and he communicated in kind and helpful ways to his cantor colleagues and was on call to substitute when they needed help. The congregation heard his mellow baritone voice and moved forward with him to participate in authentic prayer chant from their hearts. His vocal energy resonated with the purity of intent.” Basil’s songs from the CD that Ruglovsky recorded are often heard on Jumba’s Carpatho-Rus Living Tradition radio broadcasts Sundays at noon on WEDO 810 AM.

Basil’s long-time friends, like fellow cantor Andrew Huzinec, were amazed by Basil’s cantoring skills. “The music was a part of him,” says Huzinec. “Don’t forget, church is where he learned language. His memory was incredible – a couple of notes, and he’d rattle off the entire song. He could practically recite the entire Vespers from memory.”

Huzinec offered a railroad analogy from their days in Jumba’s cantor school: “Picture a train. Basil was the engineer, most of us were the train, and a few new people were the caboose.”

Basil displayed this amazing memory right down to his final days. Alex and I paid him a visit in the nursing home on August 22, unaware that he was ill, or that he was going to die two days later. When we arrived on the unit, the nurses were cautious, “We just gave him his medication, so he probably won’t understand what you are saying.”

Alex and I entered his room, anyway, even to just give him a hug. He was propped up in bed, eyes closed. I sat on the edge of the bed and took his hand. “Hello Basil,” I said softly. “It’s Mary and Alex.” He cracked open his eyes, and managed a weak smile. Surprisingly, he spotted Alex at the foot of the bed. “How’s my girl?” he whispered. I told him how much we, and our entire church, missed him, and that I wanted to remind him how we appreciated all he had done over the years. I could see he was fading, and that I needed to keep the visit brief. “Let’s sing Oce naš,” I suggested. He nodded enthusiastically. The three of us slowly began – “Oce naš iže jesi …” I paused, and he waved his hand, annoyed, signaling for us to stop singing. “I KNOW THE WORDS!!” he insisted.

Oh, yes, did Basil Brody know the words.

Mary Huzinec is a professional journalist and parishioner of St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Pittsburgh (South Side).

_sr_juliann_1357586273Sister Juliann Takacs, OSBM

September 14, 1944 – June 11, 2010

Sister Juliann (Theresa) Takacs, a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 66 years, was peacefully called home to the Lord early on the morning of June 11, 2010. She was 96 years of age, and eager to present herself to the Lord as a good and faithful servant.

Sister Juliann was born in Johnstown, Pa., a daughter of the late Stephen and Julianna (Veres) Takacs (Takach). A member of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Johnstown, she entered the Sisters of St. Basil on Sept. 14, 1944. Sister Juliann was an active choir member at St. Mary Church, adding her beautiful alto voice to the choir. She also served as Prefect of the Sodality for several years, and was a Volunteer Red Cross Nurse’s Aide. Soon after her entrance into community, Sister Juliann’s family moved to Roseville, Mich. and became members of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Detroit.

Sister Juliann pronounced her First Vows on July 18, 1946 and made her Solemn Profession on Aug. 28, 1953 in the presence of the late Bishop Daniel Ivancho. During her life as a monastic, she was called to a variety of ministries within the community. Sister Juliann added her talents in sewing in the Ecclesiastical Sewing Department, in culinary arts, and in other practical duties within the daily life of the monastery. She faithfully ministered in secretarial work and as manager in the Card Shop when assigned. Sister Juliann was particularly proud of having taught Hungarian dances to school students for Pastors’ Feast Day celebrations, an accomplishment of which she spoke with great delight. Her ministries touched lives throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Sister Juliann was an avid reader whose interests covered a variety of topics. In the monastery library, the charge cards of many books bear witness to her love for the written word. Over the past several years, due to increased fragility and failing health, Sister Juliann resided at Mt. Macrina Manor. She accepted this change in her life with grace and good spirits.  Visitors often found Sister Juliann sitting at her special place in the sunroom with her well-worn community book of prayers. She would look up, and slyly smile, saying “You know, I am 96. Do you think the Lord knows how old I am? I hope He takes me home soon.” The Lord did not forget, and quietly called her to Himself in the early hours of that Friday morning.

Sister Juliann was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Mary Senish and Julia Takacs, and brothers Stephen and Emery. She frequently spoke lovingly about her great-nephews, their wives and families. She often expressed the wish that they would be her pall bearers, so Christopher, Michael and Terry Senish, together with Randolph and Robert Rankin made the trip from Michigan to fulfill their great-aunt’s wish.

The Parastas Service for Sister Juliann was celebrated on Monday, June 14 by Rev. Michael Huszti, monastery Chaplain, assisted by Rev. Joseph Kapusnak, Rev. Ronald Larko and Rev. Thomas Wesdock. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Father Michael, with Father Joseph and Father Ronald concelebrating. Rev. Stephen Wahal also was in attendance. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount St. Macrina Cemetery.

Among the beautiful thoughts offered for our reflection by Father Michael in his homily was a quote from Psalm 90: “My refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” Speaking of his contacts with Sister Juliann as chaplain to the residents at Mt. Macrina Manor, Father attested that one could glean from her a basic trust in the Providence of God. She was quiet, yet dignified, and often spoke nobly with her gentle smile, a gesture with her hands, and a warm twinkle in her eyes. The truth of these words is borne out in Sister Juliann’s own reflection: “Living as a religious in the Presence of God is a fulfillment of joy, and I am grateful for this wonderful privilege because through it, I have been blessed with an abundance of grace.” This abundance of grace carried her into the final embrace of her beloved Lord.

_abbasil_1357586023Metropolitan Archbishop Basil M. Schott

July 21, 1939 – June 10, 2010

Grant rest, O Lord, to the soul of your departed servant

Hundreds mourn, pray as Metropolitan Archbishop Basil is laid to rest June 18

PITTSBURGH — The Byzantine Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Munhall, Pa. welcomed hundreds of mourners as the Metropolitan Church and the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh bade an earthly farewell to its shepherd, Metropolitan Archbishop Basil M. Schott, OFM, DD, the fourth metropolitan and head of the only sui iuris (self-governing) Eastern Catholic Church in the United States. Attendance at the June 18 funeral Divine Liturgy was estimated at nearly 1,200 including hierarchs, priests, deacons, religious, Byzantine Catholic faithful and guests from a number of other faiths who held the 70-year old religious and community leader in high esteem.

As Metropolitan Basil lay in repose, dressed in his Franciscan hierarchical vestments made of simple earth-toned textiles, his casket was draped with his Metropolitan mantia. Near his left hand, the ornate Book of Gospels lay. His right hand gently held a colorful, hand-crafted wooden cross – the same cross which he had commissioned for gifting to each priest of the Metropolitan Church and received by them just a day prior to his falling asleep in the Lord June 10, as the intereparchial two-day event marking the end of the Year for Priests – “Together, We Celebrate the Priesthood” – came to a close.

It was as if he had petitioned the Lord to allow him not to pass from this world until the gathering which he had planned for so long and with such anticipation successfully reached its finale.  Metropolitan Basil was diagnosed with cancer in November 2009.

The Metropolitan’s body was received Wednesday, June 16 at the Cathedral, where the Office of Christian Burial for a Priest, Part I was celebrated that evening by Bishop John of Parma. Part II of the service was celebrated Thursday, June 17 by Bishop Gerald of Phoenix.  In the Byzantine tradition, the gospels were chanted continuously throughout the course of the two days of viewing. Hundreds came during those days to pay their respects and to render a final farewell and thank-you to the beloved Franciscan, who, despite the prestige of his position, made nearly everyone he met feel at ease by virtue of his calm voice, warm smile and down-to-earth personality.

Under a mantle blue sky, hundreds of clergy processed into the Cathedral Friday, June 18 at 10:00 a.m. for the Funeral Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Byzantine Metropolitan Church hierarchs Bishop William of Passaic, principal celebrant, and concelebrants Bishop John, Bishop Gerald, and Bishop Emeritus Andrew of Passaic. Eastern Catholic concelebrants also included Bishop Milan Šašik CM (Eparchy of Mukačevo); Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan A. Soroka (Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia); Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky OSBM and Bishop Emeritus Basil H. Losten (Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, Conn.); Bishop John S. Pazak CSsR (Eparchy of SS. Cyril and Methodius for Byzantine Slovaks in Canada); Bishop John Michael Botean (Romanian Eparchy of St. George in Canton); Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath (St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago). Latin Catholic hierarchs concelebrating included: Cardinal Justin Rigali (Philadelphia); Archbishop Donald Wuerl (Washington, D.C.); Bishop David Zubik (Pittsburgh); Aux. Bishop Emeritus William Winter (Pittsburgh); Bishop George Murry (Youngstown, Ohio); Bishop Peter A. Libasci (Rockville Centre, NY); Bishop Michael Warfel (Great Falls-Billings, Mont.); Aux. Bishop Emeritus A. Edward Pevec and Aux. Bishop Emeritus A. James Quinn (Cleveland).

Clergy concelebrants of the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh were Rt. Rev. Mitred Archimandrite Wesley Izer (Phoenix) and V. Rev. Robert Evancho (Passaic), along with Archeparchy of Pittsburgh College of Consultors Rev. Msgr. Russell A. Duker; V. Rev. Richard I. Lambert; Rev. Simeon Sibenik; Rev. James A. Spontak; and V. Rev. Eugene Yackanich. Serving as deacons were Deacon Timothy Corbett and Deacon Raymond Zadzilko. Altar servers included seminarians and servers of the Cathedral. V. Rev. Archpriest Dennis M. Bogda and Rev. Kevin E. Marks acted as Liturgical Masters of Ceremonies. Responses were led by the Pittsburgh Archieparchial Choir under the direction of Darlene Fejka.

Eastern Orthodox hierarch Metropolitan Nicholas (American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA) and Rev. Leslie J. Hoppe, OFM, Provincial Minister of the Assumption Province, Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) also were in attendance, as were leaders of member judicatories of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, including CASP Executive Director Pastor Don Green.

Clergy and religious of the Metropolitan Church from all eparchies attended the Funeral Divine Liturgy, as did clergy and religious from a number of Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

In his homily, Bishop William characterized Metropolitan Basil, who was enthroned at the Cathedral on July 9, 2002, as a “very kind and friendly person” who could “light up a room” with his presence.  A fellow Franciscan, Bishop William noted that the Metropolitan retained his order’s unique spirituality as he lived simply and worked in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi to strengthen the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Cardinal Rigali and Metropolitan Nicholas each addressed the congregation at the conclusion of the service, offering condolences and words of remembrance and hope.

“We are united with all the members of this Archeparchy,” Cardinal Rigali said, “in renewal of our own commitment to the gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our commitment to the unity of the Church, which Metropolitan Basil loved so much.”

Metropolitan Nicholas said
of his Eastern Christian colleague, “Our association was a positive, good one as we labored together for the benefit of our Churches and our people.”

The ceremonial anointing with oil and covering of the Metropolitan’s face with the veil of the Sacred Gifts – signifying the end of his earthly journey and passing into eternity – was performed by the concelebrants, led by Bishop William.  Doleful strains of “Eternal Memory – Vičnaja Pamjat” followed, as mourners sang while leaving the Cathedral and the leader to whom they came to pay tribute.

A traditional “mercy meal” was held at the Cathedral Center, where many took the opportunity to reminisce with each other about Metropolitan Basil and relate their favorite, fondest stories and recollections.

Metropolitan Archbishop Basil was born July 21, 1939 in Freeland, Pa., the youngest of five children of the late Michael and Mary (Krusko) Schott. Also preceding him in death is a brother, Paul. Surviving are a brother, Michael Schott of Pen Argyl, Pa.; two sisters, Mary Ann Peterson of Pottstown, Pa. and Sister Helen Schott, OSBM, of the Sisters of St. Basil, Uniontown, Pa.; nieces, nephews and their families.

The final leg of the long day’s journey was made following the luncheon as hierarchs, clergy, religious, family, faithful, and friends trekked about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh to Mount St. Macrina in Uniontown, Pa. for the interment ceremony.  Still, there was not a cloud in the sunlit late afternoon sky as the crowd of nearly a hundred in heartfelt prayer bade farewell. In the special hierarchs’ section of Mount St. Macrina Cemetery, on a spot where in many previous years he had stood to pray for the hierarchs resting in the earth who had fallen asleep in the Lord before him, Metropolitan Archbishop Basil M. Schott was laid to rest.

In the Name of the Lord: a life well-spent

Biography of Metropolitan Archbishop Basil M. Schott, OFM

Metropolitan Archbishop Basil M. Schott was born July 21, 1939 in Freeland, Pa., the youngest of five children of the late Michael and Mary Krusko Schott. Baptized Myron at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Freeland by the late Father Arnold Suba, he was one of five children, including a sister Mary Ann, brothers Michael and Paul, and Basilian Sister Helen. He spent his early years in Hazelton, Pa., where he attended St. John Byzantine Catholic Church. He received his early education at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic School, Freeland, and graduated from St. Gabriel High School in Hazelton.

 

Father Basil

Following high school graduation, young Myron Schott entered the Byzantine Franciscan novitiate on Aug. 3, 1958, making profession of vows on Aug. 4 the following year. He then enrolled in Immaculate Conception College, Troy, N.Y., where he received bachelor degrees in philosophy and theology. As a graduate student at St. Mary Seminary in Norwalk, Conn. and the Post Graduate Center in New York, the future Metropolitan earned masters degrees in theology and pastoral counseling.

On August 29, 1965, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by then-Bishop (later Archbishop) Stephen J. Kocisko at the Franciscan Monastery in New Canaan, Conn. The new Father Basil held various offices within the Byzantine Franciscan Custody of St. Mary of the Angels and the Franciscan Order in general. Among the many offices which he held in the Byzantine Franciscans: major superior, local superior, director of formation, director of novices, director of vocations, custodial councillor, custodial treasurer and spiritual assistant for the Secular Franciscans. In January 1988, Father Basil was appointed a member of the General Visitation Team by the minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, to conduct visitations for various custodies in the United States. He also actively engaged in pastoral ministry in the parishes of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, and Eparchies of Passaic, Parma and Van Nuys (now Phoenix), as well as in Ukrainian and Melkite eparchies, and had extensive experience in retreats, workshops and renewal programs for clergy, religious, seminarians, and parish communities throughout the United States. Father Basil also served as chaplain to the Holy Protection Monastery, Byzantine Nuns of St. Clare. North Royalton, Ohio, and Holy Annunciation Monastery, Byzantine Carmelite Nuns, Sugarloaf. Pa., and also taught in the religious education departments at Byzantine Catholic High School in Parma, and Bishop Hafey High School in Hazleton. Father Basil also served as Hegumen of Holy Dormition Monastery in Sybertsville, Pa.  In the Eparchy of Passaic, he also held the office of Syncellus for Priests and Religious and was a member of the Presbyteral Council.

Bishop Basil

On May 2, 1996, Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, Apostolic pro-nuncio to the United States announced that Pope John Paul II had appointed Father Basil Schott, a member of the Byzantine Franciscans, to be the third bishop of the Eparchy of Parma. Father Basil was ordained a bishop and enthroned as the Third Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma on July 11, 1996 at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Parma, Ohio.  As Bishop of Parma, he shepherded the diverse and widespread eparchy with a gentle and steadying hand. His kind manner and care for his flock endeared him to his clergy and laity.

As a member of the Council of Hierarchs of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Church, the Bishop of Parma served as Secretary/Treasurer and episcopal liaison to the Intereparchial Ecumenical, Evangelization and Youth Commissions.  He also was the liaison to the Intereparchial Religious Education Commission.

Metropolitan Basil

On May 3, 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Basil Metropolitan Archbishop of
Pittsburgh, to succeed Metropolitan Archbishop Judson M. Procyk of blessed memory. Bishop Basil was enthroned as the metropolitan and head of the only sui iuris (self-governing) Eastern Catholic Church in the United States at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Munhall, Pa. on July 9, 2002.

The new Metropolitan chose as his hierarchical motto, “In the name of the Lord,” citing in that name evangelization, ecumenism and renewal of the Gospel life as the hope and focus for his ministry of leadership.

During his eight year tenure, Metropolitan Archbishop Basil instituted programs for Renewal and Revitalization on different levels throughout the Archeparchy and accomplished all of the components necessary for the Office of Protection of Children and Youth in accord with the Charter published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He also increased the number of members in the various boards, commissions and offices of the Archeparchy while expanding their responsibilities and involvement as well.

His concern for the vocations crisis in the Church led to one of his most labor-intensive accomplishments – albeit one which he often lamented may not be sufficiently productive in his lifetime – the creation of the Archieparchial Vocations Committee and subsequent 5-year initiative for the increase of vocations, “Are You Being Chosen.”

Archbishop Basil formally established an Office of Communications, and in the ensuing years under his direction, significant improvements were made to The Byzantine Catholic World, the official newspaper of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.

The accreditation of SS. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary by the Association of Theological Schools was completed during his tenure as president of the Seminary Board of Directors.

Metropolitan Basil was a de juri member of the Synod of Bishops of Catholic Churches and attended the last three synods in Rome. The Holy Father also had appointed him a member of the Congregation for the Oriental (Eastern) Churches. He served as the president of the Eastern Christian Associates, whose membership is comprised of all of the Eastern Catholic bishops in the United States; he also was influential in the organization of Eastern bishops into the new Region XV of the USCCB, for which he also was chair. He was Chairman of the Committee on the Relationship between the Eastern and Latin Churches and a member of the Administrative Committee. Most recently in the Conference he was serving on the committees for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Evangelization and for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; the subcommittees on Marriage and Family Life and on Catholic Home Missions; and on the Task Force on Promotion of Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life.

In the Pittsburgh area, Archbishop Basil was an active member of the Christian Leaders Fellowship, and of Christian Associates of South-west Pennsylvania, an ecumenical group comprised of the heads of area Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christian judicatories.

Aside from his numerous administrative and community leadership accomplishments, Metropolitan Archbishop Basil will be long remembered as a kind pastoral father whose leadership qualities and capabilities were enhanced by his ability to touch and embrace people with his caring ways, and with the special gift of an extraordinary sense of humor. He loved to laugh and loved to makes others smile. This was especially evident in his homilies, especially during the Annual Pilgrimage at Mount St. Macrina each Labor Day weekend, where the Metropolitan would often include humor in his pastoral messages.

In addition to his remarkable kindness and outstanding humor, Archbishop Basil is remembered as a man of deep spirituality and prayer. “He was a very spiritual man, whose prayer life affected the whole church in the United States. That will be the greatest loss to us,” said Bishop John Kudrick of the Eparchy of Parma. Linked to his profound spirituality, too, was humility. “His greatest gift was his compassion,” said Archpriest John Petro, rector of SS. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh. “He was tireless in visiting the sick in the hospital. And after he had visited the person he came to see, he would go down the hallways and stop in other rooms – not so much as a bishop but as a priest. They’d say, ‘Hi, Father.’ He never corrected them.”

May the memory of

+Metropolitan Archbishop Basil be eternal!

Vičnaja jemu pamjat’!

BCW staff member Darlene Fejka and Eastern Catholic Life editor Father James Hayer of the Eparchy of Passaic contributed to this feature.

_sr_irene_1357585786Sister Irene Hoizan, OSBM

October 31, 1932 – May 16, 2010

Tireless laborer for God’s glory

Sister Irene (Mary) Hoizan, a member of the Uniontown Province of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great for 78 years, went peacefully home to the Lord in the evening of Sunday, May 16, 2010 at Mount Macrina Manor. At 99 years of age, she looked forward to completing her earthly journey and entering into new life.

Sister Irene was born in Mala Berezna (which at that time was in Czechoslovakia), the daughter of the late John and Mary (Cibik) Hoizan. A vocation from St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Dunmore, Pa., Sister Irene entered the community at Factoryville, Pa. on Oct. 31, 1932. She pronounced her First Vows on Feb. 1, 1935 and made her Solemn Profession on Aug. 28, 1941 in the presence of the late Reverend Peter Dolinay.

Sister Irene labored tirelessly for the glory of God from the time of her first assignment in 1935. Many of her years were spent sewing in the Vestment Department at the monastery or making habits for the sisters. Even when her eyesight was failing in her later years, Sister Irene wanted to continue on a part-time basis in this ministry. She also spent some of her years ministering in culinary arts at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary and as a “home sister” in the various parishes where the Sisters of St. Basil taught.

For many years, Sister Irene also was one of the leading cantors for the Divine Liturgy and Divine Praises in the monastery. The sharing of this gift is always valued in the spiritual tradition of our Church, where singing is so much a part of our prayer together. Without doubt, the heavenly choirs now are enriched by her presence among them.

In March 2007, ill health made it necessary for Sister Irene to become a resident at the Manor. She made the adjustment to this new “ministry” gracefully until the Lord called her back home a few months after her 99th birthday.

Sister Irene often questioned why the Lord was keeping her so long on this earth. Many of the Sisters would tell her that her mansion in heaven was not ready yet. To one of them, she replied, “But I don’t need a big mansion.” We can only conjecture on her wonder when she finally opened her eyes to her new life in the heavenly kingdom.

Sister Irene was preceded in death by her parents and by her sister Madelyn Hoizan Fox. In addition to her Sisters in community, she is survived by a brother John, and sisters Julia Yurgosky, Sue Lapcapra, Margaret Morelli, Emma Yurgosky, Theresa Garbolina, Irene Simyan, Catherine Bar-nowski, and Helen Schuster.

The Parastas Service was concelebrated on Tuesday, May 18 by Monastery Chaplain Father Michael Huszti, and Father Joseph Kapusnak. The Funeral Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Basil on Wednesday, May 19 at 10:30 a.m. in the Monastery Chapel. Concelebrating with Metropolitan Basil were Fathers Michael and Joseph, assisted by Deacon Paul Simko. In attendance were Father Ronald P. Larko and Father Stephen J. Wahal. Interment followed in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

Metropolitan Basil alluded in his homily to the three great Feasts which we were celebrating:  the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost. He reminded us that we all are invited to enter into the Resurrection of Our Lord every day by getting over whatever keeps us from rising to new life each day; then we are called to share in the Ascension of Our Lord by blooming where we are planted, not “standing looking up at the sky” as the apostles did at the Ascension. Then, Pentecost calls us to let the Spirit work in us, so that we can be the best self God has called us to be.

Speaking to each of these themes, Metropolitan Basil noted that Sister Irene also had to “get over it” many times, learning a new language, adjusting to different customs. Sent to new missions or given various duties, she had to be “repotted” a number of times and each time she was asked to “bloom” there. Finally, all through her life, she did not try to be anyone other than who she was. She was herself, self-shaped and fashioned by the Spirit. It was this self which Sister Irene gave back wholeheartedly to the Lord. “We entrust her to the Lord,” concluded Metropolitan Basil. “We do know that her memory is eternal.”