Sister Mary (Martyria) Borysowich, SSMI
1923 — 2017
Sister Mary Borysowich died on February 01, 2017 at SSMI Bethany Home in Winnipeg, MB, in her 94th year and 68th in religious life.
Sister Mary was born on August 16, 1923 in Garson, MB, located about 50 kilometers north-east of Winnipeg. She was the youngest in the family of seven, and the only daughter, of Michael Borysowich and Sophia (nee Klymus). Michael was a farmer. Her family attended St. Michael’s Church in nearby Tyndall. She attended the local public school, graduating after completing high school.
Some years after this, she went to Winnipeg, where she was employed as a clerk in a grocery store. She faithfully attended St. Andrew’s Church, where she met the Sisters Servants. Observing her prayerfulness and peaceful spirit, the Sisters invited her to enter the Novitiate of the Sisters Servants. When Mary finally made her decision, she never looked back. On May 14, 1949, she entered the Novitiate at Mount Mary, Ancaster, ON. On her Clothing Day, on November 20, 1949, she took the name, “Sister Martyria”. In the 1970s, she reverted to her baptismal name, “Mary”. Because there were others named “Sr. Mary” in the community, she was fondly referred to as “Sr. Mary B.”
She made first profession of vows on November 21, 1951, and final profession, on August 15, 1957.
In her early apostolic years, she taught for eighteen years at parochial Ukrainian Catholic schools in seven different cities in the USA: Passaic, NJ; Rochester, NY; Chicago, IL; Detroit MI; and in Pennsylvania: Minersville, Kaiser and Shamokin. In the summer months, she attended summer school at Universities in New York, Pennsylvania and Chicago. She also taught catechism in the local parishes and assisted at St. Mary’s Villa, in Sloatsburg, NY.
In 1970, she returned to the Canadian Province of the Sisters Servants, where she remained permanently. However, she did return to serve for a year in the USA SSMI Province, in the early 1980s, teaching in a parochial school in Detroit, and helping at the SSMI Retreat Centre in Sloatsburg, NY.
In the 1970s, Sister Mary was missioned to the SSMI Homes in Windsor, Regina, Montreal and Oshawa. She served as a catechist, did parish work and helped with domestic duties.
Sister Mary had a thirst for learning. She studied at Concordia University in Montreal, obtaining a B.A.degree. In later years, she took every opportunity to grow in knowledge and wisdom. She audited courses, such as Ukrainian, at the University of Saskatchewan, and took typewriting as an adult student. She attended catechetical and spirituality workshops, and loved to share her insights with other Sisters and with laity. In her later years, it was her apostolate to gift others with spiritual treasures she found: leaflets and “cut-outs” of prayers, reflections, teachings.
From 1982 to 1985, she and Sister Boniface Sloboda served in the Edmonton Eparchy, traveling to various parishes, conducting a catechetical mission, during the year and summer months. In 1985, as they travelled to one of these missions, they were involved in a fatal car accident. Sister Boniface, the driver, was killed and Sister Mary, seriously injured. This traumatic experience understandably was a difficult one for Sister Mary, but it deepened her trust in God, growing in faith that the Lord still had more apostolic work for her.
And so she had, serving at Mount Mary Retreat Centre in Ancaster, ON, assisting during the summer months at the SSMI missions in Lourdes, Munich and Rome, and working at the Saskatoon Eparchial Catechetical Centre. But later, she embarked upon a new mission, Pastoral Care, which was her joy. To prepare for this, she took a five week course at the University of St.Paul in Ottawa.
She served in Pastoral Care, visiting Hospitals, Personal Care Homes and Homes for the Disabled, in Saskatoon and Winnipeg. In 1994, the staff at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg presented her with a farewell card as she was departing to a new mission, thanking her for her dedicated ministry and her humour. She returned to Saskatoon, where for five years she visited the hospitalized and shut-ins, the majority of whom were of Ukrainian origin.
She returned to Winnipeg to continue the same active ministry, as her health permitted. In more recent years, she conducted her ministry by telephone and an occasional brief visit. She loved to sing religious songs and share her wealth of spiritual wisdom on various matters. An excerpt from an e-mail indicates how effective this mission was:
Sr. Mary has been such a good friend and support to Mom. I feel awful when I think about this, and the effect that her death will have on Mom. I hope Sr. Mary doesn’t suffer too much, and that she can bear the suffering. I completely understand her not wanting to go to a hospital. She always seemed to be very determined and certain about her philosophy and approach to her health. What a special, spiritual, wise and uplifting woman she is. I will forever remember her very sweet voice, when she sang to Mom and me over the phone and her kind words of encouragement and advice.
On her Golden Jubilee as a Sister Servant in 1999, then-Provincial Superior, Sister Janice Soluk, greeted Sister Mary with these words:
Your fifty years as a Sister Servant went into God’s eternity. Every moment is etched in God’s loving memory: each child, whether in the school classroom or in the parish catechism class, each lonely senior citizen or ill member of the Body of Christ whom you visited, each person whose day you brightened through your telephone ministry, each prayer whispered, each act of self-giving, each “Yes” to God, to your family, to us your Sisters, to our needy world – all is in God’s memory. God greets you today with these words: “Well done! I hold you close to my heart!”
Sister Mary was devoted to her family. She assisted her brothers as she was able, tried to visit her family members yearly, supported them by her letters, telephone calls and by prayer.
Sister Mary was predeceased by her parents and brothers Alex, John, Andrew, Peter, Walter, Bill and their spouses. She is survived by cousins and numerous nieces and nephews with their families.