Sister Andronica, a member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, died in Holy Family Home, Winnipeg, MB on November 24, 2023.

Annie (Sister Andronica) was born on December 4, 1929, in Bedfordville, SK. Her parents,  Dmytro and Anna (Spilchuk) had emigrated to this district from Yamnytsia, near present day Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine. 

Dmytro and Anna had married in Ukraine in 1904 and had two daughters, Dora and Mary.  He emigrated to Canada in 1914, deciding to settle near family members who had come much earlier. He was employed building the railway lines until 1918. In 1918 he got a homestead in the Bedfordville district near Ituna and began farming.  In 1921 his wife Anna and two daughters joined him.  She was happy to be reunited with her parents, who were in Canada since 1906, and her six siblings.  

Annie (Sr. Andronica) was the youngest in the family, having a brother William and a third sister Kathleen, both born in Canada.

Dmytro and Anna shared their precious treasure of faith with their children, teaching by example.  Dmytro assisted the priest as a Sacristan. In the winter he walked over two miles to the church to light the fire for the service and also cleared away the snow.  Anna washed the church linens and the family hosted the visiting Redemptorist priest in their home.

Annie experienced a difficult pioneer life, learning the importance of reaching out to neighbours in need.  She attended the local school.  When she was thirteen, her sister Kathleen entered the Novitiate of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, which was located in Mundare, AB.

As Annie’s love for God grew, she heard in her heart a voice that beckoned her to follow Jesus. At the age of 16, on 17 January 1947, she entered the Sisters Servants’ Novitiate in Ancaster, Ontario, where it had been recently re-located.  On her Clothing Day she took the religious name Andronica.   Sr. Andronicamade first profession of vows on July 19, 1949, and final profession, August 15, 1955.

Sister Andronica often shared that she owed her vocation to the witness of her parents; for them faith was the way they followed Christ day by day, shaping the way they lived and loved.
In her 76 years as a Sister Servant, Sister Andronica generously served her religious community, their Novitiate,  Academies, Personal Care Homes, our clergy and church and people.  She often went beyond the call of duty and spared no effort.  She joyfully and generously accepted the gifts of hospitality, organization and creativity in the art of cooking and developed them with dedication and perseverance.  Her faithfulness to the Lord and her loving devotion to the Mother of God sustained her in times of difficulty and overpowering fatigue. 

The life of Sister Andronica is a witness of tireless and exemplary devotion to duty in the years of few conveniences and meagre resources. She was always a joyful spirit, ready to lighten the burden of others and to share with them God’s love and compassion, which she so powerfully experienced in her own life.

After professing her vows, Sr. Andronica was missioned to the United States, where she served in Food Services in the Sisters’ High School Academy in Sloatsburg, NY  and in their Personal Care Home in Philadelphia, PA.  She returned to Canada, to the Novitiate in Ancaster, and was given the responsibility for nearly ten years to train the Novices in the art of gardening and canning.  She also served  as support staff in the kitchen department  at Mount Mary Academy. In the late 1980s she returned for a short time to train the kitchen staff at Mount Mary Retreat Centre.

Sister Andronica took a variety of courses in “Food Service Management” and “Food Service Supervisors” in order to better serve in the Sister Servant apostolates in Personal Care Homes and High School Boarding Academies.

Sr. Andronica was missioned to Holy Family Home in Winnipeg in 1964, serving as Kitchen Supervisor until her retirement in 1995. Anyone who has been part of Holy Family Home certainly remembers and knows Sr. Andronica as a deeply committed, energetic, hardworking, loving and caring manager of the Nutritional Food Services Department. Her culinary talents placed Holy Family meals at a 5 Star rating. Everyone who worked with her remembers her fondly, as one who had given of herself so selflessly to the mission. She truly lived the motto, To Serve is to Love

Her day would start by arriving in the kitchen by 6:00 am and often returning home after 7:00 pm, only to take some extra time to work on the menu tray place cards as a way to relax in the evening. This mission spanned over thirty years. 

For a sideline to her work, Sr. Andronica found time to match-make. There were some university students hired to work at Holy Family who met their true love in life. Sr. Andronica nurtured these friendships that she witnessed blossoming in the dishwashing room. She remembered the corner well. 

Her next mission found her at the Sisters Servants’ Provincial Home in Toronto, ON managing and coordinating Food Services for the Sisters and their guests. During this time, in 1996, she returned to Holy Family for several months to help in the Food Services Department after a need had arisen.

In January 2009, she took a second retirement, leaving Toronto to return to Winnipeg to reside in Bethany Home.  In her retirement Sr. Andronica was always ready to lend a helping hand whenever needed. She loved to walk in the Park and often visited the residents at Holy Family Home. 

In September, 2011, due to failing health, she was transferred to Holy Family Home, now being served and cared for in a Home so close to her heart for over thirty years of serving there.

Much can be said about Sr. Andronica’s life of prayer and service. Quotations from tributes paid to her at her Jubilees and on her retirement for Holy Family Home help us see the real Sr. Andronica:

“Sister Andronica worked hard, but also played with her heart in the camaraderie.  She looked forward to her trips abroad which renewed her spirits, to Lourdes, Fatima, and Rome.  She felt privileged to visit Ukraine, where her parents and older sisters were born – a visit she treasured!”

“We thank God for the way He has called you to be a channel of love for us Board Members, the residents, the staff and all associated with Holy Family Home.  God has blessed you with gifts of loving concern and genuine care for all. We have been touched by God’s life in you.”

“On your 50th Jubilee we are especially grateful, not only for what you have done and do, but for yourself. Yours is a beauty within, in your heart; yours is the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit. This is so precious to God and to us.”

Grant, O Christ, that Sister Andronica, who has gone from this life to You, may be received in Your unspeakable glory where happiness reigns and the sound of pure joy is always heard.