Sister Nathanael Natalia Preyma, SSMI
1923 — 2018

Sister Nathanael Preyma, a Sister Servant of Mary Immaculate, passed away at Bethany Home, Winnipeg, MB on 17 March, 2018. She was in her 95th year, and 80th in religious life.


Her life

Natalia was born on April 29, 1923, in Sifton, MB, daughter of John Preyma and Katherine (Sopel), the first of eight children.

She entered the Novitiate of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Mundare, AB, on July 29, 1938, taking the name Nathanael. Sister Nathanael made first Profession of Vows on January 31, 1941 and Final Profession on August 15, 1947, in Ancaster, ON.

In her 80 years as a Sister Servant, Sister Nathanael generously served her religious community, church and people in the following missions in Canada: Edmonton, Vegreville, Mundare and Calgary in Alberta; Ituna, Saskatchewan; Dauphin and Winnipeg in Manitoba; Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Ottawa and Windsor in Ontario. Sister Nathanael was the local superior at the following missions: Calgary, Windsor and Edmonton.

At the twelve missions at which she generously served she developed all her talents for which she was called to minister in various ways, “serving where the need was greatest” at the time.

For over forty years Sister Nathanael, was involved in parish ministry, preparing First Holy Communicants, teaching catechism and conducting Ukrainian School. She was responsible for Children of Mary, Sodality, and altar servers. She also served as Eucharistic minister, sacristan, prepared altar bread, cared for church linens and decorated the sanctuary for major Holy Days. She worked with the parish UCWLC. In addition she visited shut-ins or ill parishioners in health care institutions.


An outstanding characteristic of Sister Nathanael was her love of her Ukrainian people and Church. She delighted to welcome a friend with a patriotic Ukrainian greeting. Her Ukrainian soul was especially troubled at the recent tragic events in Ukraine, leading her to redouble her prayers for unity and true peace and justice.

For many years she served in the Sister Servant summer catechism ministry in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta. In addition, she was missioned to the summer camp ministry, serving at Pigeon Lake, AB and Sudbury, ON.

Gifted with a beautiful voice, Sister Nathanael conducted children’s choirs, who sang the responses to liturgical services and performed at the parish Ukrainian School concerts. She also served as cantor when necessary, and participated in the 200-voice Millennium Choir, of Winnipeg, which was formed especially for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Canada in 1984. Her music ministry was an important contribution to our parish life, enhancing the beauty of our church services and thus uplifting the hearts of those who came to worship.

In the SSMI Children’s Homes in Mundare and Ituna, she was Prefect for several years. She served in the pastoral care ministry at Hôtel-Dieu in Windsor and at Holy Family Nursing Home, Winnipeg. She served as receptionist at St. Paul’s Nursing Home in Dauphin.

This is not all, for as every Sister Servant to a greater or lesser degree, she was called to be “support staff” as needed for the local SSMI community: responsible for the laundry, housekeeping, chapel and chauffeuring (her special joy). In the midst of her parish and home missions, she always found time to share a joke and her hearty laugh, support those downcast and grieving, share a word of wisdom with the troubled and, above all, pray to the Lord for all those she had encountered and whom had entrusted their concerns to her.


In 1987 she was called to a new apostolate: to serve in the SSMI Liturgical Arts Ministry in Winnipeg. This was a new opportunity to share and develop her talents, serving our Ukrainian Catholic parishes by providing their liturgical needs, altar cloths and vestments for priests, deacons and altar servers. She welcomed the priests and laity that came to place an order and shared a few words of encouragement and support.

Sister Nathanael welcomed new opportunities to develop her talents in the service of others and the Church. She studied Ukrainian at the University of Saskatchewan and took pastoral care and catechetical courses. She enriched her artistic abilities by taking private painting lessons, which she enjoyed very much.


In 1971 she travelled to Europe, making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Lourdes, Fatima and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In 1987, she also had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine and Poland. Often, in her latter ministry in the Liturgical Vestry, she would travel by car to New York, to stock up on materials, and often would also visit the SSMI at Sloatsburg, NY, in time for their annual Marian Pilgrimage.

Sister Nathanael loved her family and treasured every opportunity to visit them. She shared their concerns and joys, welcoming them, as she did everyone, with a big smile and a teasing comment. Sister Nathanael also enjoyed her trips to New Jersey, where she visited her brother Walter and enjoyed his kind hospitality. She prayed for them daily, asking the Lord to watch over them with love.


Sister Nathanael suffered ill health in the last years of her life. Although her physical energies decreased, she was still a vibrant community member, rejoicing with the Sisters in their mission efforts. She continued to serve her religious community and Church by bearing her suffering patiently and offering silent prayer for the Sisters actively serving and all those she had encountered while on active mission.

Sister Nathanael was predeceased by her parents, sisters Myroslava (in infancy) and Maria and brothers Nicholas, Peter, John and Walter. She is survived by her brother Marvin and numerous nieces and nephews with their families.


Her funeral

Sister Nathanael’s funeral prayers began at Bethany Home Chapel on Sunday, March 25, 2018, with a private viewing for Sisters, clergy and family. Sister Anne Marie Kozakewich led the rosary. Panakhyda was celebrated by Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, Archeparch of Winnipeg, concelebrated by Rev. Dmytro Dnistrian, CSsR, Rev. Matthew Drury, OSBM, and Rev. Michael Buyachok, assisted by Deacon Stefan Tyrawski. Sisters Darlene Pelechaty and Ruth Aney led responses. Father Drury gave a few words on his acquaintance with Sister Nathanael, who taught him catechism as a child in Windsor, ON. Sister Theresa Matwe, Vice-Provincial Superior, of Ancaster, ON, gave the eulogy.

On Monday, March 26, 2018, her commemoration began with the Sisters gathering in the Bethany Home chapel for prayer. Cropo Funeral Home provided transportation to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, for as many Sisters as could attend. SSMI Associate Doreen Prokopchuk led the rosary, before the Funeral Divine Liturgy. Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Lawrence at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church at 10:00 am. Concelebrants were Reverends John Sianchuk, CSsR, Larry Kondra, CSsR Provincial, Frank Szadiak, CSsR, Matthew Drury, OSBM, Emilian Nychak, OSBM, Michael Buyachok, Michael Kwiatkowski, Michael Krochak, Mark Gnutel and Volodymyr Bashutskyj. The Sisters present led responses. Pall bearers were Fr. Matthew Drury, Ray Chernecki, and nephews Paul, Philip, Ray and Gerald Preyma.

In his reflection, Metropolitan Lawrence recalled Sister Nathanael’s faith in the strength of the sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of the Sick. He recalled not only the frequency with which she received that sacrament, but attested to its efficacy, for the times that she appeared to be near her end, when she would recover after receiving the sacrament. He also expressed gratitude on behalf of the Archeparchy for her faithful service, especially in the vestry, in the last years of her active life.

After Panakhyda and the final viewing, interment was held at Holy Family Cemetery; there, prayers were concluded with the singing of the SSMI Community hymn, “Слава, Слава”.

A lunch was served at St. Nicholas parish hall. Sister Theresa Matwe reflected again on the life of Sister Nathanael, as did nephew Paul Preyma, on behalf of the family.

In her memory donations may be made to SSMI Lubov Foundation – HFH Building Expansion.

Hear Sr. Nathanael speak briefly on her vocation. Click on the bottom right of screen to view in full screen.
Part 9
(at 2 min 46 sec)