Full Obituary for Sister Laura Palka, OSBM 1929- 2023
Sister Laura, musician and composer left her earthly home on January 21, 2023. Sister had been in poor health after having suffered a stroke a few weeks prior. Born in Cohoes, New York, Lillian Mary Palka was a daughter of the late Michael and Anna (Pawelczak) Palka. Her family were members of SS Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Cohoes were her Baptism and Chrismation took place.
Sister Laura entered the Basilian Convent on August 21, 1949; her first vows were on August 21, 1951 and Solemn Profession of her final vows took place on August 26, 1954. She attended Potsdam State Teachers College and earned her BA in music education at Immaculata College; she did additional graduate work at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, DePaul University in Chicago, IL, Villanova University and Manor College.
Sister Laura taught at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School in Chicago, IL, SS Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic School in Cohoes, NY, St. Basil Academy in Fox Chase Manor, PA and Manor College. She also was a summer catechist in Terryville, CT, Elmira Hgts, NY and Hamtramck, MI. Sister was Provincial Superior from 2005 to 2010, served as Provincial Councilor from 1995 to 2005 AND also served as House Superior.
Sister served on the Board of Trustees for Manor College and St. Basil Academy; she was the director of Basilian Associates and Director of Renewal (an ongoing Transfiguration Program). One cannot memorialize Sister without recounting her many talents in the field of musical composition, performance and directing. Most worthy of mention is her cantata on excerpts from Bohdan Lepki’s poem, “In the Cathedral of St. George” and her Christmas prayer – “A Child was Born”. This was enjoyed by hundreds as Sister trained and directed a choir of sisters from Holy Trinity Province in Ukraine and her own Province – Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province resulting in a music tour to Chicago, Parma, Pittsburgh, Stamford and Philadelphia.
Those of us who were novices under her direction spent hours rehearsing the various tones and renditions of the Divine Liturgy and Divine Office. Under her direction our melodious voices filled Holy Trinity Chapel. Sister’s sensitive personality drew many to her – both as teacher, assistant director of novices, member of the Provinces’ Renewal Team and just simply as friend. As Sister composed, directed, and sang music on earth, now in heaven Sister continues to sing the praises of God. Music was Sister’s life!
Sister Laura is survived by her sister, Joyce Vellutino and her husband Frank; her niece Anne Ellis; and great-nephew Michael Dantz (Katherine). She is predeceased by a nephew, Michael Francis Vellutino. Sister Laura’s viewing will be held on Friday at 4:30 PM at Holy Trinity Chapel at the Monastery of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great. Parastas Prayers will be sung at 6:15 PM. Her funeral will be held on Saturday at 10 AM at Holy Trinity Chapel with Requiem Liturgy celebrated at 10:30 AM. Burial will follow at the Convent Cemetery.