Sr. Irene Miroslawa Windyk, SSMI
1923 — 2018

Sister Irene died on 01 August, 2018, at the Mary Immaculate Health Care Centre in Mundare, Alberta. She was 95 years of age and 76 years in religious life.


Her life

Miroslawa was born on 13 August 1923, in Kryvorivnia, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine, daughter of Savaryn and Barbara (nee Mykolajewich). Before she entered the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, she had completed a year of high school, and a two-year millinery course.

She entered the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Krystynopil (now Chervonohrad), in western Ukraine, on 12 December 1942. She began her novitiate on 13 July 1943, and made her first profession of vows on 14 June 1945. During her novitiate, she witnessed the death of her co-Sister Tarsykia Matskiv, now Blessed Martyr Tarsykia, who was shot by a Russian soldier, during the Russian occupation.


For the years of her temporary profession, Sister Irene worked as a lab/x-ray technician. She made her final profession 28 August 1951, and continued to serve in home care ministry, and as sacristan.

In 1958, with the help of her father, who had immigrated to Canada earlier, she arrived in Toronto, and joined the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate Canadian Province. She was missioned in Edmonton (1958), Toronto (1959), Ancaster (1960-64), Winnipeg (1964-68), and Yorkton (1968-1971), where she was engaged in parish ministry, pastoral and home care, and support services at Mount Mary and Sacred Heart Academies.

From 1971-94, she was sent to St. Paul’s Seniors’ Home in Dauphin, MB, where she trained to direct the Recreational Activities department for the residents, alongside a ministry of pastoral care for the institution. Throughout those years, she took further courses in senior care, covering spiritual needs of the residents, the adjustment of the aged to moving to a care home, and mobility of the aged. She also participated in Institutional Fire Safety workshops, required of staff for the facility. After 19 years as director of the Activities department, she retired as director, but continued as a volunteer, taking on more home visits, a telephone outreach ministry, and domestic duties, until her transfer in 1995 to St. Joseph’s Home in Mundare.


Sister Irene spent the next twenty years, from 1995-2015, ministering to her co-Sisters at St. Joseph’s. Though she was of retirement age herself, she was still taking active care of Sisters in greater need, and also visiting in the local hospital and seniors’ lodges, acting as sacristan at Filas Manor, and maintaining some domestic duties as well. In 2015, her own health needs limited her scope of ministerial activity, and she was transferred to Mary Immaculate Health Care Centre, for long term care. There she still kept an active ministry of prayer, keeping in touch with the needs of our hurting world, and as she was able, with the spiritual and emotional needs of her co-residents.

Sister Irene remained close with her family in Canada. She would spend holiday time every year with her father and sister, Bohdanna Gulka and family, in Ontario, and after her father’s passing, would continue to visit her sister and her family. Her other sister, Ivanna Aleksenko, remained in Ukraine with her family; Sister Irene had an opportunity to visit her sister in 1985, for what would be the last time.


1992 marked the 100th Jubilee of the SSMI Congregation, and Sister Irene’s 50th Jubilee, and she was given an opportunity to join in the Community celebrations in Ukraine, the land of our founding; she also was able to visit the Sisters Servants in Poland and the SSMI Generalate in Rome. She had an opportunity in 1983 to travel to Rome, Greece and the Holy Land with a tour group, an ever-memorable experience for her.

Sister Irene will be remembered for her faithfulness to the Community and to her vows, and for her gratitude for all the opportunities she was given, particularly to visit her family, in Canada and abroad, and other travels. She edified others with her fervor for God’s will, and her ministry of prayer, even in her final years, when her mobility was limited. She remained lucid to the end, in touch with the issues of the world, and eager to pray for the conversion of sinners, particularly those in the public eye.

Sister Irene was predeceased by her parents, Savaryn and Barbara, and her sisters Ivanna and Bohdanna. She is survived by nephew Orest Gulka and wife Halia, and their children, Taras and Oksana (John) Roma, great-nephew Mark and great-niece Mila, and extended family in Ukraine. And she will be deeply missed by her SSMI Community.

Her funeral


Funeral services, including the celebration of Divine Liturgy and Panakhyda, began at 10:00 am on Tuesday, 07 August 2018, at St. Joseph’s Home chapel. Prior to the Divine Liturgy, Sister Laura Prokop, local superior, led the congregation in the Rosary. Rev. Irenaeus Prystajecki, OSBM, celebrated. Nephew Orest Gulka read the epistle; Sister Laura read the eulogy.

Interment followed, at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in Mundare, AB. Pall bearers were Brother Peter Senuik, OSBM, nephew Orest Gulka, Marty Koshman, Al Paltzat, Victor Firmanuik and Joe Prystash.

A memorial lunch was served at St. Joseph’s Home for about 48 guests. At the dinner, two staff of Mary Immaculate Health Care Centre shared their memories of Sister Irene. Nephew Orest Gulka, present with his wife, Halia, spoke on behalf of the family. He was touched by the presence of so many guests, supporting them as they grieve.

Donations in Sr.Irene’s memory may be made to the St. Joseph's Home.