Four Sisters came to Canada from Ukraine in 1902 and began mission work in Alberta. Within a short time, our pioneer Sisters opened schools, began parish work and their ministry to the sick and needy. They helped the Ukrainian immigrants, both urban and rural, to adjust to their new homeland and educated their children, teaching them to appreciate and love their rich spiritual and cultural heritage.
Young women entered our congregation and over the years homes were opened also in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. At present our homes are in the provinces from Quebec to British Columbia, with the central headquarters, referred to as the Provincial Home, located in Toronto. The Novitiate, that is the school of initial formation, is in Winnipeg.
In 1957 the Canadian Sisters Servants were entrusted with a mission in Bradford, England. In 1965, we began our apostolate in Mackwiller, France and in 1981, in Lourdes. We also serve in missions in Rome, Germany and Ukraine.
In 1994 Sisters from Canada founded their first mission in Australia, in Geelong, Victoria. We then had two more missions, in Perth and Brisbane, but now Brisbane has recently closed.
In 1971 we published the history of the Sisters Servants in Canada, “To Serve Is to Love”. Its author is Sister Claudia Popowich SSMI.
Striving to respond to contemporary needs, our apostolic vision is to bring Gospel values to our society, whether it be in the field of education, health care, the arts and the media.
In 2002, the Canadian Province of Christ the King celebrated its centenary with the forming of an historical photo display, housed in our archives building at the Provincial Home. (Click on any image for a closer view.)
In Canada we have been extensively involved in the educational apostolate from nursery school to the University levels. We have conducted residential and day high schools for young women: Sacred Heart Academy, Yorkton, Saskatchewan; Mount Mary Academy, Ancaster, Ontario; Immaculate Heart Academy, Winnipeg; and an elementary school, St. Nicholas School, later renamed Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Winnipeg. We taught in Catholic Schools in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Ancaster, Kitchener, Oshawa, Windsor, Regina, Yorkton, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Vegreville, Edmonton and Calgary. We taught in the public school in Mundare and in rural schools in Alberta and Saskatchewan. At present Sisters teach at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Winnipeg.
In addition to our three residential high schools for young women, we conducted hostels in Saskatoon, Regina, Vegreville and Edmonton for women attending educational institutions or who were employed.
Sisters have served as Byzantine-Ukrainian rite consultants in Catholic school systems in Saskatoon, Edmonton, Yorkton, Vegreville and the National Office of Religious Education in Ottawa. In the summer in urban and rural parishes from Ontario to British Columbia, Sisters taught religion and were involved in the summer camp ministry. We also have done summer mission work in Great Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Argentina, Brazil and Australia. This mission work continues to the present, although it is not as extensive.
Since the 1970’s the Sisters have organized and directed the Religious Education Centres in the Archeparchy of Winnipeg, and in the Eparchies of Edmonton, New Westminster, Saskatoon and in Australia. With the laity assuming the administration and instruction in our schools, our main educational apostolic thrust at this time is at the Religious Education Centres.
At the Centres, lay catechists are given initial and on-going formation and supplied with audio-visual and other resource materials to enliven and enrich their teaching. Special sessions on Scripture, moral and family issues, prayer and Eastern rite spirituality are presented by the Sisters. The Sisters travel to outlying parishes to assist catechists and conduct spiritual renewal workshops for youth and adults.
Each Religious Education Centre has a lending library, making available to clergy and laity religious literature, audio-visual and other resource material on a wide range of religious themes. The Sisters at the centres have produced literature, slide presentations and videos to enrich their presentations and to serve as resource material.
The Canadian Sisters Servants published “Journey of Faith”, a catechist resource book on the Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine. It is available in English and Ukrainian and is supplemented by an audio cassette of religious and liturgical songs performed in both languages.
In 1994 we published “We Are Children of Light”, which consists of a teacher’s guide and resource book, students workbook and an audio cassette of liturgical songs and original religious songs composed by Canadian Sisters Servants. The program is designed for the preparation of children for the sacraments of reconciliation (confession) and Solemn First Holy Communion. It is available in English and Ukrainian.
We also published two booklets in English and Ukrainian on the sacraments, “Life Through Water and the Spirit” and “Peace Through Forgiveness”.top of page
From our first years in Canada we ministered to the sick, travelling long distances to give home nursing care. In 1929 we opened a hospital in Mundare, Alberta and in 1935 in nearby Willingdon. In the 1930’s we conducted nursing homes in Manitoba in Sifton, Komarno and Dauphin. In 1956 we purchased the former Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg and converted it into Holy Family Nursing Home. At present we own St. Paul’s Nursing Home in Dauphin, which has 70 residents and Holy Family Nursing Home, which has 284 residents. In both of these facilities we have the administration has been entrusted to laymen.
In our health care institutions we work closely with the laity, members of our Advisory Boards and Ladies’ Auxiliaries. Sisters have entered into the pastoral care and home care apostolates, fulltime. In 1995 government cutbacks resulted in the closing of our hospitals in Willingdon, Alberta. Our Mundare hospital became a long-term care facility, and also provides for palliative and respite care. We remain committed to our health care ministry and are seeking ways to adapt to the recent changes.top of page
From our early years in Canada to the present, we have conducted Liturgical Arts Centres, where Sisters design and sew vestments for bishops, priests, deacons and altar servers. The vestments are adorned with custom-made medallions. The Sisters design and sew mitres. They also provide all that is necessary for liturgical celebrations: altar cloths, holy shrouds, banners and the like. The main Liturgical Arts Centres are located at the Provincial Home in Toronto and in Winnipeg.
Our Sisters in Canada have shared this expertise with our Sisters in Ukraine, in this time of refounding their province after it was forced underground for nearly fifty years.top of page
At our missions we enter wholeheartedly into the life of the parish. In former years in most parishes the Sisters conducted Ukrainian School and taught religion weekly to the children and youth.
We directed organizations such as the Apostleship of Prayer for the adults and Children of Mary, Altar Boys Societies and youth clubs.
In the absence of priests the Sisters conducted prayer services and gave spiritual talks. We cared for the sanctuary, preparing it for festive celebrations and instructed in this art. We supplied countless parishes with altar bread.
Today we still carry on most of these works, only in fewer parishes. We continue to visit the sick and elderly in health care institutions and in their homes. We distribute religious literature and videos. We direct choirs and sing in them and assist in the preparation of parish celebrations.top of page
From their first days in Canada the Sisters made every effort to uplift their people spiritually. They conducted Marian devotions and gave spiritual talks. In their Academies they provided their students with an opportunity to make yearly retreats and days of reflection. They encouraged the retreat apostolate, hosting retreats in their homes, where possible.
In the 1970’s they opened a full-time retreat centre, Mount Mary Immaculate Retreat Centre in Ancaster, Ontario. Yearly thousands of all ages, but particularly the young, come to Mount Mary to be enriched spiritually and grow in their appreciation of Christian community. The yearly Marian pilgrimage at Mount Mary is a focal point for reconciliation, healing and spiritual renewal.
Sisters conduct retreats, for groups or on an individual level. The main thrust of the SSMI Associate Program begun in the 1990’s is to provide women and men an opportunity to share in our spirituality and mission, while continuing in their life journey with its family, church and career orientation. The Religious Education Centres in the Eparchies also conduct programs of spiritual renewal and enrichment.top of page
As Sisters Servants we are encouraged and given opportunities to discover and develop our God-given talents in apostolates other than those of education, health care, liturgical arts and parish work.
Sisters musically gifted have shared this gift and inspired others by conducting Schools of Music in Toronto, Windsor, Yorkton, Winnipeg and Ancaster. Piano and singing lessons and the full range of courses up to the ARCT level have been offered. Sisters have conducted school and parish choirs and have left their achievements to succeeding generations on recordings. In 1996 the Sisters in Canada produced an audio cassette/CD of traditional popular religious hymns sung in Ukrainian.
Sisters artistically inclined have produced a wide range of works: icons, paintings, sculpture, murals, tapestries, banners, ceramics, stained glass, mosaics, graphic design, pysanky, cross-stitched works and leathercraft.
Many Sisters developed their culinary skills and excelled in the art of homemaking. These were welcome contributions in the Sisters’ educational and health care institutions, and in ecclesiastical institutions such as seminaries, hostels and episcopal residences.top of page