Basilian Spirituality Center Welcomes New Director
The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great announce the appointment of a new director of the Basilian Spirituality Center, Fox Chase Manor, PA. Sister Charlene Diorka, SSJ, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, has assumed the office of Director formerly held by Sister Marina Bochnewich, OSBM.
An experienced educator on both the elementary and secondary levels, Sister Charlene credits that experience as being “foundational to everything I do because it has taught me how to envision and plan, to prepare and present, to create and evaluate.”
Having garnered a rich context in graduate theology studies, Sister Charlene entered the field of vocation and formation ministry, “accompanying others on their spiritual journey and assisting them in their spiritual relationship with God.” Serving in the office of the National Religious Vocation Conference in Chicago, IL, led to contacts with young adults, clergy and bishops and consecrated religious from across the country. “It also provided many opportunities to write, speak and facilitate different groups on varied topics in light of faith, spirituality and consecrated life.”
Assisting the new director with her responsibilities is Sister Johanna Gedaka, SSJ, Ph.D. As a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph for many years, Sister Johanna has been involved in the field of education from the elementary to the university levels. Her accomplishments include developing and chairing the Fine Arts Department at West Philadelphia Catholic Girls High School and laying the foundation for its ministry of education leadership; serving as art, music and education instructor at Holy Family College, rising in rank there as the college grew and reached university status. In 2011, Sister Johanna retired and received the rank of Professor Emerita, but continued to teach art history and music for another two years. At Holy Family University, Sister Johanna was head of the division of arts and humanities and then Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Sister Johanna hopes the skills she cultivated during her tenure at Holy Family—developing a collaborative mode of leadership with a diverse faculty and staff, overseeing scheduling for students, curriculum development, assessment practices and managing the school’s large budget—will assist Sister Charlene as she undertakes the directorship of the Basilian Spirituality Center.
Both Sisters are excited about plans for the Center. “It is our greatest hope that the Basilian Spirituality Center will undergo a renewal and rebirth that will allow it to flourish in the spirit and mission of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great. We want to expose people of both the Eastern and Western Churches to the beauty and hospitality of the Center through increased and diversified programming, to offer a welcoming presence and hospitality to others who want to host programs in these facilities and to invite a broad audience of students, young adults, lay and consecrated men and women to come and experience renewal in a spirit of prayer, healing and life-giving presence. Plans for programs, workshops and speakers are underway. We are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. We hope the Basilian Spirituality Center will become a beacon of hope for the faithful in the greater Philadelphia area and a source of support, inspiration and hope for the Sisters of St. Basil the Great. It is a unique privilege to engage in this ministry at this time in the history of the Church and especially in this year dedicated as the Year of Consecrated Life.”
“I am delighted to be immersed in an environment that calls me to deepen and expand my own Ukrainian heritage,” says Sister Charlene.
“Because I believe firmly in the Lord’s wish that ‘All may be One’, says Sister Johanna, “I find excitement in learning the similarities as well as the differences between Eastern and Roman Catholicism. My Eastern European heritage is culturally similar to Ukrainian, as well.”