The Sisters Servants are women who have responded to Christ’s call
to dedicate their entire beings and lives to God.
The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, a Ukrainian Catholic apostolic congregation, are called to be witnesses of Christ, living out His Gospel through sharing our lives with each other as a community, in prayer, love and service.
The Sisters are called to respond with openness in a spirit of trust, humility, simplicity, hospitality and joy in service of God’s people, primarily but not exclusively, those of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
“The Mother of God is the example of self-giving. Under her patronage, the Sisters dedicate themselves daily to Christ and are co-workers with Him for the salvation of the world. The Mother of God, who in great faith and humility received the Word which took flesh within her, gives the Sisters an example of how to be attentive and open to God’s creating power. She lived joy in her obedience to the Father, showed strength in accepting her poverty and a readiness to receive life in her virginity. These characteristics of her total self-giving to God are the ideal and inspiration for the Sisters to follow.”
Chapter 1, # 3 of the Constitution of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, (2006) with reference to Vita Consecrata.
The Sisters’ day ends with the singing of a third-century hymn to the Mother of God:
“We fly to your tender protection, Virgin Mother of God – Theotokos. Do not turn away from us in our time of great need, but deliver us from danger. You alone are pure, you alone are blessed.”
The love of Christ has joined us in this Congregation, and Christ will be the source of His Life and strength, if we carry out this command: “in the measure that we love one another, so will Jesus Christ live among us with His love.” (cf Constitution of 1892, Ch. 3 Par. 3)
The Sisters create a community of love in the image of the Most Holy Trinity, as did the community of the first Christians, whose center is Jesus Christ. We foster in each other a mutual respect and love, based on God’s love, not only in words, but above all, by our actions. (cf. Constitution of 1907, par. 130)
The Congregation, founded over one hundred years ago in Western Ukraine, is of papal rite, with its General headquarters in Rome. It is subdivided into seven Provinces, one of which is the Canadian Province, under the patronage of Christ the King, and under the leadership of the Provincial Superior and her Council.
Left to right: 3rd Councillor Sr. Jean Zemliak, Vice-Provincial and 1st Councillor Sr. Theresa Matwe,
Provincial Superior for Canada – Sr. Christina Syrotynsky, 2nd Councillor Sr. Janet Kozak,
and 4th Councillor Sr. Darlene Pelechaty
As a young woman of Lviv, Ukraine, Michaelina Hordashevska experienced a call to the religious life and searched for a way to respond. Privately, she sought spiritual direction from Father Jeremiah Lomnitskyj, OSBM. In 1892, at the age of 22, with the guidance of Father Jeremiah and material help from Father Kyrylo Seletskyj, she became the first member of the first active apostolic congregation of women in the Byzantine-Ukrainian Catholic Rite, the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate. In this newly formed community, she took the name of Josaphata.
The first years of this young community were very difficult for the Sisters, especially for Sister Josaphata. But her steadfastness, determination and faith gave her the courage to bear the many trials and sufferings she encountered in carrying out this God-given call “to ennoble the hearts of the morally oppressed people, who were yearning for a spiritual uplifting and renewal”.
She loved her young community of Sisters, encouraging them to lead a life of “contemplation in action,” in service to people. This lesson they learned well. “God’s children” they were called by the people of the towns and villages, as they went about caring for the young, healing the sick and spreading God’s Word of hope and enlightenment.
In 1919, at the age of 49, Sister Josaphata fell asleep in the Lord. In death, as in life, her courage and determinations were unflinching. Her longing for union with her Divine Lord was finally satisfied, as she reached her heavenly Jerusalem.” Today, her mortal remains rest in the chapel of the Generalate of the Sisters Servants in Rome. In 2001, she was beatified by St. Pope John Paul II, during his pastoral visit to Ukraine.
The Sisters began their work in Ukraine over 125 years ago, but soon after, responded to needs beyond Ukraine, beginning in Canada. When the first four Sisters arrived in Alberta in 1902, they quickly became a light to many Ukrainian immigrants helping them to adjust to their new homeland. These pioneer Sisters opened schools, began parish work, and ministered to the sick and needy. The Sisters taught the children as well as the parents to read and to flourish in their rich spiritual and cultural heritage.
In the spirit of their founders and reading the signs of the times, the Sisters continue to respond to the needs of the Church. Remaining faithful to their charism and their founders’ words, “Serve where the need is the greatest,” their original ministries of education, health care and parish ministry in all its facets continue in new forms, adapted to current situations.