Sister Rose (Dosithea) Ann Luby, SSMI
1928 — 2015

Sister Rose Luby, a member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, died peacefully at St. Joseph’s General Hospital, Vegreville, AB on Thursday, November 12, 2015.


Her life

Rose was born on May 26, 1928, in Ottawa, ON and baptised and later confirmed in the nearby St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church. The Ukrainian Catholic Church, St. John the Baptist, was too distant from the family to regularly attend. She was the first child born to Dmytro Luby and Dominica (Wowk), who had emigrated from Western Ukraine before World War I. She had one sibling, Mary.

Rose attended Catholic Schools and attended Immaculate High School for one year, then attended the High School of Commerce the next year. She completed her High School education at Sacred Heart Academy in Yorkton, SK, after she had made her first profession of vows as a Sister Servant.

She became acquainted with the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, who came to teach catechism in the parish in the summer months. Having experienced the call of Christ to religious life, Rose entered the Novitiate of the Sisters Servants in Mundare on November 05, 1944. She took the religious name, “Sr. Dosithea”, but in the early 1970s reverted to her baptismal name, “Rose.” She made first profession of vows on May 07, 1947, and final profession on August 15, 1953.

In her 71 years as a Sister Servant, Sr. Rose Luby generously served her religious community, church and people with her whole heart. She developed her talents, especially her musical and artistic ones, entrusted to her by the Lord, using them to enrich the Sisters Servants, schools and parishes.

For over thirty years, she was a creative and dedicated educator. She graduated from Toronto Teachers’ College. She studied at the Universities of Ottawa and Saskatchewan, graduating with a B. A. degree in 1971. She was an accredited teacher in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario. She served mainly as a classroom teacher in the primary grades. Grade one was her favourite! She taught in the following elementary Catholic Schools: USA: Minersville, PA; Alberta: St. Angela, Calgary; St. Michael, Edmonton; St. Martin, Vegreville; Saskatchewan: St. Joseph, Regina; Ontario: Ukrainian Catholic Schools: St. Josaphat, Toronto; Holy Spirit, Hamilton.

To make her teaching apostolate more fruitful, she devoted many summers to study. She was awarded certificates for Junior Art and Elementary Vocal Music. She took summer courses in Primary Reading and attended Catechetical Institutes, particularly those offered after Vatican II. But Sr. Rose was fully aware that her classroom mission was not complete unless she reached out to each student, especially those troubled, with concern and compassion. An excerpt from a letter she received from a former grade one student, almost forty years later testifies, to this.

It must have been difficult for anyone to like me. I know that most of the time I was not properly dressed or groomed. I remember telling tall tales all the time. I felt so much less than all the other children. Only a saint could like me.

These are the parts of my life I don’t enjoy remembering, but they are not my only memories. In the midst of that pain was a joy that still overwhelms me today: Sr. Dosithea’s Grade One class, a place where I could feel safe. Sister, I could feel your enthusiasm and it made me feel so alive. I knew that you loved all of us and it felt so safe. I can still see it today. It really didn’t matter what else was going on in my life because your classroom was a sanctuary that made my world such a wonderful place.

I still have my grade one report card and from the comments you wrote, I know that I was a challenge to you. Somehow you were able to see beyond all that, and I remember so vividly the extra time and effort you gave me.

Whenever you had an errand downtown, you took me along. I remember feeling so important whenever I went anywhere with you. You would even take me to the convent at noon. Even though I was not able to eat with the Sisters, it didn’t matter: Because whenever I went anywhere with you, it felt like God was smiling on me.

I am 45 years old now … You have been in my thoughts all these years. I am writing this letter to you because the memories of you were not enough. It is important that you know that, although we have been separated for many years, a part of you is always with me. You taught me about a loving God in more than one way. There was the daily Catechism but even more significant were your words and kind deeds. To this day I carry your lessons of love and I try my best to pass them on to others in the same way you did. You are truly my Earth Angel!

Remembering you and all you’ve done reminds me of what Christ’s message is really all about.

Throughout her teaching years, after school hours or on weekends, Sr. Rose also prepared children for First Holy Communion and taught Ukrainian School. When not attending summer school at a University, she devoted her summer months to teaching catechism in rural parishes and preparing children for First Holy Communion in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. She also taught at the Alberta Eparchial Summer Camp Oselia, at Lake Wabamun.

From 1986, Sr. Rose Luby entered a new phase of service, devoting all her energies to parish work at the two parishes in Calgary. She entered into parish life wholeheartedly: teaching catechism, conducting the Children of Mary and assisting with the Altar Servers. She met with young adults (university students and those working). Then she planned to organize the teens. As Sr. Rose put it: I am not an organizer, but I did ask the Lord to use me and He did!

During her sabbatical year at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, Sr. Rose had time to rest, recoup her energies and prepare herself spiritually, to plunge into a new apostolate: She was missioned to the Edmonton North Home by the Cathedral, to be the first co-ordinator of the Edmonton Eparchial Catechetical Centre. She visited parishes in urban and rural centres, assisting catechists and sharing her wealth of catechetical experience.

From 1988 to 2010, Sr. Rose was missioned to serve as cantor at St. Josaphat Cathedral. She led the singing and responses for the 10:00 am Sunday Liturgy and served as cantor for daily and other liturgical celebrations: funeral services, weddings, anniversaries, for whenever she was requested. She prepared hymn sheets and booklets to involve the entire parish in the celebrations. She assisted with the Children of Mary. Her active life was her parish.

Sr. Rose Luby loved her community of Sisters Servants and devotedly carried out all responsibilities entrusted to her. She served as Provincial Secretary for one year. She was local Superior in the following homes: Provincial Home in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton. She made every visitor feel right at home! She participated in Provincial Chapters and the SSMI Catechetical Workshops. She assisted in the SSMI Associate apostolate in Edmonton for a number of years.

On her 50th Jubilee as a Sister Servant, the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of the Edmonton Eparchy rejoiced with her and expressed gratitude for her dedication, writing in their Bulletin:

The Sisters Servants exemplify what unconditional love is. They prepare themselves, first and foremost, by daily prayer. Out of this flows their service to the people. And this is Sr. Rose’s secret!

The twinkle in Sr. Rose’s eye and her loving and welcoming way has helped us understand what a genuine person she is, and how she affects each one of us who have the privilege of knowing her. She is a caring, compassionate disciple of Jesus, who works hard to bring the love of Christ into our hearts in our everyday duties of life.

From 2011, due to failing health, she had to discontinue her active mission. She joined the Sisters at St. Joseph’s Home in Mundare. It was time to heal, to serve her Lord and her sisters and brothers by prayers of intercession, and by offering her sufferings, physical and spiritual. Her faithfulness to the Lord and her loving devotion to the Mother of God and Blessed Josaphata sustained her in times of difficulty and pain.

As health permitted, she continued to serve her local community of Sisters Servants at St. Joseph’s Home and did whatever domestic duties her strength allowed. In advanced infirmity she was a witness to all who lived with her and to the guests of heroic coping with infirmity, striving not to be a burden, but rather, offering her help to those in more need and pain than she experienced. She will be cherished for her sense of humour, her devotion to the needy and her availability. Hers was a gentle and unassuming manner.

Sr. Rose Luby loved to travel and enjoyed nature and the beauties of art, architecture and music. She treasured her pilgrimages to Rome, Lourdes, Venice, and Assisi. For her, this was a great grace and blessing. She visited Ukraine in 1994, an unforgettable time.

She cherished her family and friends and tried to keep in contact with them as time allowed. She looked forward to visiting them and seeing her sister Mary and her nephews. She especially cherished her school-day friend Mrs. Anne Moisey in Ottawa. She encouraged them and prayed for them.

Sr. Rose Luby was predeceased by her parents. She is survived by her sister Mary in New York City and her nephews.

Her funeral

Father Jim Nakonechny, together with the Knights of Columbus, organized a beautiful prayerful tribute for Sr. Rose Luby.

At 7:00 pm Parastas was celebrated at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Edmonton, AB, where Sr. Rose served many years as cantor, assisting at numerous liturgical services and ceremonies.The following were in the procession that led in and escorted the mortal remains of Sr. Rose: UCWLC President, Maxine Zakordonsky, carried the processional cross; Knights of Columbus, the pall bearers: Greg Warwa, Mike Sheptak, Greg Palko, Doug Rezewski, Orest Boyko & Gerry Dubyk; 18 SSMI Associates and SS Sisters Doloretta Shalagan, Veronica Bartkiw and Petronella Dybka (Edmonton); Vice-Provincial Sr. Christina Syrotynsky (Toronto), Sr. Zoe Bernatsky (Mundare), Sisters Darleane Pelechaty and Andrea Kruk (Winnipeg). All carried roses and placed them in the coffin before the service started.

Eparchial Vicar-General Fr. Stephen Wojcichowsky, officiated at the service, assisted by Cathedral Pastor Fr. Peter Babej and Fathers Paul Lysak, Julian Bilyj, Peter Brezden, Don Bodnar, Jim Nakonechny, Mark Sych, Michael Kowalchyk, Bill Hupalo, Mihajlo Planchak, Gregory Faryna, Danylo Kuc and Deacon Michael Bombak. The “Cheruvymy” singing group led the responses at the service, and later, during the Final Farewell,provided a beautiful, prayerful, supportive atmosphere.

Following the Parastas, Father Bill Hupalo shared a spiritual reflection and words of encouragement, noting the necessity for being watchfulalways, bearing in mind the meaning of life, using examples from Sr. Rose’s life.

Afterwards, in the name of Provincial Superior, Sr. Patricia Lacey, and all the Sisters of the Canadian Province, Sr. Christina Syrotynsky, Vice-Provincial, paid tribute to the departed co-sister. Beginning with the words borrowed from the German mystic, Angelus Silesius: The rose does have no why it blooms without a reason, forgetful of itself … she blooms, because she blooms … pays no attention to herself, and asks not if she is seen.

Sr. Christina noted that Silesius painted a perfect picture of ‘our Rose’ and illustrated it with the words of the eulogy. Included in the eulogy there was also an excerpt from the letter of a former student whose life Sr. Rose touched forever – a powerful testimony.

At the conclusion of the service, all were invited to the parish hall across the street for refreshments and lunch sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. It was an opportunity to share memories of Sr. Rose and thank the Lord for her dedication to the Lord and His people.

The funeral Liturgy took place on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Home in Mundare, AB. From 9:30 am, the Sisters individually came forward to greet her, pray by her. Vice-Provincial Sr. Christina led a common rosary.

The Requiem Divine Liturgy began at 10:00 am, celebrated by: Fathers Stephen Wojcichowsky, VG, main celebrant, Joe Tyrkalo, OSBM, Paul Lysak, Michael Kowalchyk, Ireneus Valyavka, OSBM, Mihajlo Planchak, Myron Pyszcz, and Jim Nakonechny. Sisters Zoe, Darleane and Christina led the singing, and Sr. Zoe read the Epistle.

In his homily, Fr. Stephen dwelt on the power and meaning of a name using all titles and names connected with Sr. Rose, e.g. Reverend; Sister; Dosithea – gift of God.

After the Final Farewell, the interment took place at Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church Cemetery in Mundare. The pallbearers were Joe Prystash, Allan Paltzat, All Koper, Milton Holowach, Sr. Zoe Bernatsky and Sr. Darleane Pelechaty.

Following the cemetery service amid the strong winds and sub-zero weather, a delicious memorial meal was served at St. Joseph’s Home. Fr. Josaphat Tyrkalo OSBM, led the grace before the meal and Sister Superior Martha Zulyniak, even though just after surgery, provided able and pleasant service as an MC.

She expressed gratitude to: Fr. Stephen for the inspirational Homily at the Divine Liturgy, and to Basilian Fathers: Fathers Josaphat and Ireneus and all the Clergy for their spiritual support; to Vice-Provincial Sr. Christina, for her support, for leading the rosary and for sharing Sr. Rose’s life journey; to all the SSMI and everyone present, who joined in singing the responses; to Sr. Zoe, for making the funeral arrangements and for reading the Epistle; to Emily Zuk at reception desk; to Ambulance Services and Dr. Frank from Vegreville for their compassionate care in Sr. Rose’s last hours; to Iryna Prystash, Gloria Sadownyk, Josie Proniuk, Cathy Rakcheav and Bernadette McDonald for preparing the memorial meal and those who came to help with the serving; to Pauline Skubleny for making the cornmeal, a cherished tradition; to Ray Paquette for his assistance at the interment; to the pallbearers; to Park Memorial: Janet Litun, Dale Menzak and Steve Zarusky for providing their funeral services.

Sr. Martha also thanked the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League, and the community of Mundare and surrounding areas for joining the Sisters in bidding final farewell to Sr. Rose. “Know that you are family and friends of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.”

Regrets were received from Sr. Rose’s sister, Mary Luchkiw and her family, who reside in New York.

Sr. Christina Syrotynsky gave the eulogy and shared words of condolence with the local community of SSMI and people of Mundare who knew, lived with, and loved Sr. Rose. Heartfelt regrets were sent in by Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak and Bishop David Motiuk who so dearly wished to be present and pay last respects and were unable, due to the Bishops’ Conference in the East. They were both Sr. Rose’s students.

At the end, Sr. Doloretta spontaneously thanked Sr. Martha for the indefatigable care with which she prepared this worthy final farewell for Sr. Rose in spite of her own vulnerable condition.

Hear Sr. Rose speak briefly on her vocation. Click on the bottom right of screen to view in full screen.
Part 1
(at 3:11)