Sister Andrea Helen Kruk, Sister Servant of Mary Immaculate, passed away at Bethany Home, Winnipeg, MB on 09 June 2022, having lived 91 years, with 62 years in religious life.

Helen Kruk was born on 12 March 1931, in Winnipeg, MB, daughter of Peter Kruk and Mary, nee Martyn. Her parents met in the Sokal region of Ukraine. They immigrated separately in 1928, planning to reunite. They married in Winnipeg, in 1930, raising three children, Helen, Irene and Myron. They were faithful members of the Cathedral parish of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha.

Helen’s mother worked with the Sisters Servants at St. Nicholas School, and often took her along, even before school age; thus, Helen knew the Sisters all her life, and the seed of her vocation was planted in her heart early. Through her school years, she was involved with the Sisters, helping with youth events. As an adult, she worked for several years as a clerk typist for the Canadian Chemical Company, in Edmonton.

Helen also had a passion for singing, a love passed on by her mother, who performed in operatic productions. Singing on stage from the age of four, Helen often sang duets with her sister, Irene, throughout childhood. Later, she sang in the Ukrainian Opera Choir in Edmonton. This troupe staged the opera, “Запорожець За Дунаєм”, by Semen Hulak-Artemovsky, in Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Though she aspired to make a career in the performing arts, the Lord gently changed her plans. On a casual visit to the Sisters in Edmonton, she asked for written material on the Sisters, and the Sister who provided it also arranged for her to meet with the Provincial Superior, who would be visiting soon. What started as a casual visit became an interview to enter. When she phoned her mother to tell her of her plans to enter, her mother already knew; she had been praying for this, all along.

Helen was received into the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Winnipeg, on 10 January 1960, having received a special blessing from her whole family. Moving soon after to the novitiate in Ancaster, ON, she received her habit and became a novice on 10 July 1960, taking the name Sister Andrea.  She made first Profession of Vows on 11 July 1962 and Final Profession on 15 August 1967.

Sister Andrea was engaged in office work for most of her ministerial life. Of her 62 years as a Sister Servant, 33 years involved office work. More than half of those years were in the service of our Ukrainian Catholic bishops in Saskatoon, New Westminster and Edmonton. In Edmonton, she also handled correspondence for Bridge of Hope, an eparchial organization working with the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine, to help needy children. While missioned in New Westminster, Sister Andrea also had opportunities to teach Ukrainian to seminarians in Mission, BC, and Ukrainian School in the parishes. She worked for four years in Rome for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a papal agency in support of Eastern Churches. She also served in St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in Mundare, at Sacred Heart High School in Yorkton, and in her final years at Bethany Home, in Winnipeg.

Sister Andrea was engaged in the hospitality ministry, at the Chanceries in which she worked, but also for a time in Mackwiller, France, serving children’s camps; and in Lourdes, France, preparing accommodations for Ukrainian pilgrims, and taking them to the Grotto to pray the Stations of the Cross and rosary. She served community in domestic work in Toronto and Ancaster as well.

Singing remained a special part of Sister Andrea’s life. She was well known for her naturally operatic voice. Giving up her hopes of performance to serve the Lord was not easy, but the Lord offered her opportunities to use her voice in His service. When she served as sub-prefect at Mount Mary Academy in Ancaster, ON, she directed the student choir. The chronicles of the Lourdes mission note that, when the Sisters took pilgrim guests to the Shrine for the evening Rosary, Sister Andrea would occasionally sing “Ave Maria” during the devotion. When Pope John Paul II visited Canada in 1984, she sang with the 200-voice Millennium Choir, created for the occasion. The choir remained in existence after the visit, and in 1988, she accompanied it to Rome, for celebrations of the Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine. During her parish missions in Windsor, New Westminster, Oshawa, and other locations, and at summer camps and catechism in various locations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, no doubt she taught hymns and catechetical songs in her lessons. And often, for Sisters’ gatherings, she would lead the Sisters in sung prayer.

Sister Andrea availed herself of opportunities for professional development, after entering. She trained in the Chilton-Didier method of teaching Ukrainian; she attended catechetical workshops, featuring the “Come to the Father” program and Youth Ministry; and she attended the Catechetical Congress in Winnipeg, in 1986. For her spiritual enrichment, she attended several Scripture fest weekend courses, and two weeks of Liturgical Studies at Newman Theological College in Edmonton; she attended a charism workshop, in Winnipeg, in 1984, and a week-long course in inner healing, in Mundare, AB, in 1985.

Holidays were mostly spent with her family, particularly as her parents aged, but she also had opportunities to travel abroad, on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Shrines in Europe; to Ukraine, around the time of her missions in Mackwiller and Lourdes; in Rome, just prior to her mission there; and to the Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1985.

Having endured a hip replacement, her mobility became difficult, but never dampened her missionary spirit. In her retirement years, she still helped with office work, and drove Sisters to appointments, as she was able. Her dedication to intercessory prayer became more evident in these years, reflecting the strong foundation of prayer built throughout her life; she was deeply devoted to our foundress, Blessed Josaphata, and co-founding Fathers. In her own brief battle with cancer, she maintained her broad smile, and her sober, yet tender trust in her Lord.

Sister Andrea was predeceased by her parents, Peter and Mary, and her brother, Myron, and his wife, Olga. She is survived by her sister, Irene, nephews, Borys, Jurij and Paul, and their families, and her Sisters in the community of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.

            Sister Andrea’s remains were brought to Bethany Home, on Tuesday, 14 June 2022, where they remained overnight for the funeral Divine Liturgy the following day. His Grace Metropolitan Emeritus Stefan Soroka was the celebrant for the Parastas. Sister Ruth Aney led the Sisters, family and a few other guests in responses. Sister Christina gave the eulogy, also extending sympathies to the family and Sisters, who are grieving her loss. Metropolitan Soroka spoke beautifully of his personal encounters with Sister Andrea, and truly captured her engaging and joyful nature, urging those present to emulate her in this great relational gift.

           On Wednesday, 15 June 2022, the funeral Divine Liturgy for the late Sister Andrea Kruk was celebrated by His Grace Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak. Sister Ruth Aney again led the Sisters, family members, Associates and care givers in responses, with the help of Brother Stephen Krysak, OSBM. Great nephew, Mykola Kruk, read the epistle. Metropolitan Lawrence also  spoke through his personal experience of Sister Andrea, who had been his secretary at the Edmonton Chancery. He addressed the three great loves of Sister Andrea: her Congregation, singing, and discipline and order (порядок), relating it to Colossians 3:16-17, which says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” With this, he pointed out that serving the Lord in all these things was what unified her three great loves.

She was interred at the Holy Family Cemetery, with nephews Jurij and Borys Kruk, great-nephews Danylo and Mykola Kruk, and Paul Chahal, and great-niece Halyna Kruk as pallbearers. The Sisters invited all those present for lunch at the Sisters home, afterwards.

            May the memory of Sister Andrea be eternal – Вічна їй пам’ять!