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Sisters of St. Basil the Great Honor Sisters of St. Basil the Great for Decades and Miles of Mission and Service

August 3, 2017
Posted in: Jubilarians, News

On Saturday, July 8, 2017, the Sisters of St. Basil the Great, hosted a Jubilee honoring three Sisters for their dedication to their Creator, to the Jesus Lover of Humanity Province, to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, to the community the Order has served since its founding, and to individuals whose lives they had touched over the years.

The event began with Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Holy Trinity Chapel by Rev. Edward Higgins from Holy Ghost Parish in Philadelphia and continued with festive dinner followed in the Monastery dining room. The three Sisters honored at the event were Sister Miriam Claire Kowal Sister Germaine Senita, and Sister Maria Rozmarynowycz. In his homily, Rev. Higgins lauded the selfless commitment of these Sisters.  During the celebratory dinner, which was attended by friends, families, and colleagues of the three honorees, each Jubilarian was introduced and lauded for her deeds, accomplishments, commitment, and specific labors of love undertaken during her decades of service.

Describing Sr. Claire’s 65 years of service, Sister Ann Laszok opened with a comment about reviewing a resume filled with leadership positions that emerged and became a theme in the life of a Sister who entered the Order in 1952 and simultaneously embarked on a commitment to education, a role that suited her in the classroom and was very quickly enhanced by assignments that posed additional responsibilities: as Dean of Admissions and Registrar at Manor Junior College, then as Academic Dean, then as President of Manor, then as Provincial Superior, and then as General Superior in Rome.

Sr. Ann emphasized that Sr. Claire, while embracing the responsibilities associated with these position, always personalized her endeavors, and always sought out ways to make things work better and more efficiently. She also emphasized Sr. Claire’s multidimensional interests, citing a sabbatical at the Sheptytsky Institute, a hands-on approach to facilitating Manor’s Middle States Accreditation process, an avid interest in enhancing Manor’s academic curriculum by adding career-oriented programs, and an enthusiastic approach to showcasing the Order’s ethnic roots by working with Ukrainian community leaders to establish the Ukrainian Heritage Center and by organizing an annual Ukrainian festival.

Sr. Ann also focused on Sr. Claire’s attention to physical infrastructure by overseeing much-needed renovations to the Motherhouse. She also noted that it was Sr. Claire who was the force behind reestablishing ties with the Sisters in Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Sr. Claire (as General Superior) who organized conferences, initiated a website, and commissioned a book on St. Basil and monasticism.

Sr. Ann ended her description of Sr. Claire’s multifaceted endeavors and accomplishments with a personal note on the jubilarian as a “person.” In doing so, she cited three quotes of former UN Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld, which best “best captured and reflected your life community: 1. the more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside; 2. the longest journey is the journey inward;and 3. if only I may grow: firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer. Observing a time-honored custom, Sr. Ann ended her tribute to Sr. Claire with a jocular observation that was met with appreciative laughter from attendees: “There’s one quality of yours that always amazed me: Amidst your male Board of Trustees you could overwhelm them with your knowledge of baseball.”

Provincial Superior Sr. Dorothy Ann Busowski shared her thoughts about jubilarian Sister Germaine Senita, who is celebrating 55 years as a member of the OSBM community. Her tribute opened with a focus on Sr. Germaine’s special gift—a lifelong passion for and commitment to music that she has shared with the Sisters of St. Basil andwith generations of students. Lacing her tribute with musical terminology, the Provincial Superior noted “when one thinks of you it cannot be but in musical terms because the rich harmony of your life strikes a chord with us.  Here we are five years from your fiftieth anniversary and we experience a crescendo, for we have seen in you an increase in your devotion and love of God and neighbor. No doubt the accompaniment with those with whom you work, play and pray forms an ensemble that plays the same tune.”

Sister Dorothy Ann continued the musical analogies in describing her friend and colleague’s life journey, noting that she had entered the Order while living in Granville, New York, “that little concertino of a town,” and adding that as student at Manor, Sr. Germaine had decided to “orchestrate” her life around the Sisters’ ministry and mission and “did not desire to sing a solo but wanted to be part of the choir.”

Sister Dorothy Ann then described Sister Germaine’s commitment to education, beginning with teaching assignments at Saint Josaphat and Saint Nicholas schools in Philadelphia and culminating in a decision to return to the Motherhouse in Fox Chase and teach at St. Basil Academy, a commitment that endured “the last forty plus years with much gusto and little falsetto” during which the jubilarian “taught the young women not only about libretto, adagio and allegro, but about rhapsody and relationship with the Divine Maestro and humanity.”

In concluding her touchingly personally tribute to Sr. Germaine, the Provincial Superior explained, “Overall, Sister Germaine, your story is a love story,  a story of point and counterpoint, of preludes and finalities. All this leading to a duet—you and Christ chanting a song of love that goes something like this: Love is kind . . . not envious . . . it is not jealous or pompous . . . love endures all things . . . bears all things . . . believes all things . . . hopes all things. So faith, hope,love  remain . . . but the greatest of these is love. As you continue to fine tune your cantata of love, may each beat and each note bring you closer and closer to the One whom you have chosen to serve.”

Last but not least we come to Sister Maria Rozmarynowycz,whose 60 years of life as a Basilian Sister was celebrated at the event with a loving speech delivered by Sister Joann Sosler who described Sister Maria’s numerous and widespread missions and ministries that have spanned far-flung geographical and intellectual borders that Sister Maria crisscrossed with equanimity and endurance and ingenuity whether in Chester, New York, Parma, Hamtramck, Chicago, Stamford, Connecticut (where Sister Maria served as Assistant Chancellor), Newark, Fox Chase (where she served as Administrator of the Ukrainian Heritage Center, Provincial Secretary, Provincial Councilor, and House Superior), or in Rome, where she served as General Secretary or Assistant General Superior. Sr. Joann continued by adding that the honoree was now serving in Chicago at the Bishop’s Chancery. She noted with admiration that Sister Maria has always been “open to gathering your needed possessions, moving to a new terrain, and making it home for however necessary. . . . affirming, supporting . . . your Sisters with your experience of adapting, adjusting to the uniqueness of each new local Community. The endurance displayed is remarkable.No one knows the details except you but we can believe that at each of these ministries you added your personal flair of creativity, the elegance of the exquisite, Ukrainian tradition, the knowledge of protocol, respect and perfection. You produced only the best in the name of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great . . . .”

Sister Joann’s tribute ended with a note of gratitude and appreciation for Sister Maria’s thoughtful and personal contributions to the community: “Today, Sister Maria Rozmarynowycz, we proclaim your loving presence among us. Know that you have been companioned by Christ and your Sisters, especially those with whom you have bonded intensely. We call upon you to continue to share the gifts of creativity, generosity, love and solidarity with us. We call upon you to continue to explore, to question and to risk fresh ideas and new dreams. . . .Mnohaya Lita!