Sister Eugenia Mary Stefaniuk, after a brief struggle with her health, died peacefully on 26 November 2020, at Bethany Home in Winnipeg, MB, living with purpose till her last breath.
Born – 11 August 1935
Entered – 30 June 1957
Clothing Day – 12 January 1958
First Vows – 13 January 1960
Final Vows – 15 August 1965
Death – 26 November 2020
Mary (Sister Eugenia) was born to Nicholas and Tatianna (nee Ben) on August 11, 1935, in Melville, SK, and grew up in Kelliher, SK. Her father was a CNR labourer, and so they lived in town. There she graduated with her Grade XII education. She was the only girl in her family, having had five brothers.
Her parents were very pious, and brought up their children to know they could talk to God freely, for all their needs. They prayed together as a family, and had a special devotion to the Mother of God. They lived near the local hospital, which was run by a Roman Catholic congregation of Sisters, and as a little girl, she would often see the Sisters go for walks, and join them, holding their hands. She would have joined those Sisters, but was told that there were Ukrainian Sisters in Ituna, SK, the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, and so she entered there.
Mary entered the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Ancaster, Ontario, on June 30, 1957, receiving her habit on January 12, 1958, and taking the name, Sr. Eugenia. She made first profession of vows on January 13, 1960 and final profession, August 15, 1965.
Sister Eugenia chose nursing as her primary apostolate. She became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in 1961, at St. Boniface School of Nursing, in Winnipeg, MB. Her teachers noticed her giftedness, and particularly her bedside manner, and recommended that she become a Registered Nurse (RN). She graduated in 1964 from the same School, beginning her apostolate in Willingdon, AB. Not long after, she was taking Hospital Administration courses, and was assigned administrative positions, as well as nursing duties. She received a certificate from the Canadian College of Health Service Executives (USask, correspondence) in hospital administration, and a supervisory course at U of Alberta, and by 1968, was assigned as administrator at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Mundare.
In her 63 years as a Sister Servant, Sister Eugenia generously served her church and people, missioned in the hospitals and nursing homes operated by the Sisters Servants in Alberta and Manitoba: the Mary Immaculate Hospitals in Willingdon and Mundare, and St. Paul’s Nursing Home, Dauphin, and Holy Family Nursing Home in Winnipeg, MB. For several years, she administrated both branches of the Mary Immaculate Hospitals in Willingdon and Mundare, while also serving as local superior in the Mundare Hospital Sisters’ residence. In 2005, when the province of Alberta forcibly closed MIH in Willingdon, she oversaw its closure in a gentle, pastoral manner, easing the grieving of all involved in that sad event. Soon after, she was asked to represent our Congregation on the board of the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation.
In her latter years of service, she also certified for clinical Geriatrics at the Edmonton General Hospital, and studied Total Quality Management out of Rockhurst Continuing Education Centre, a Jesuit-run University in Kansas City, MO,
Sister Eugenia was entrusted to various responsible positions by her religious community: Provincial Councillor (1981-1993, two terms); local superior in Mundare and Willingdon, while concurrently administrating the Health Care facilities there; local superior at the residence for the Sisters nursing at Holy Family Home, in Winnipeg, while also nursing there; and superior in Bethany Home, Winnipeg, which had been primarily a residence for our elderly Sisters.
As heavy as her apostolate was, Sister Eugenia kept her focus on the One to Whom she gave her life. Faithful to her prayer life and Community, she also shared her faith through teaching religion at the Mundare, Lamont and Dauphin parishes, and even took a year of concentrated Catechetical ministry with Sr. Boniface Sloboda in the province of Alberta. For her own enrichment, she was able to take a year of Scripture studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.
Sister Eugenia cared deeply for her family as well. Being the only daughter, she considered not entering the Congregation, to take on the responsibility of caring for her parents, who were already advanced in years. Her sister in law assured her that her brothers, who were older than she, would be able to take on that responsibility. But even after she entered, much of her vacation time was given to short visits with her parents, precisely to care for them in their needs. She also held particular concern for one of her brothers, who had a heart condition. When circumstances allowed, she also visited with extended family – an aunt and uncle in the British Isles, and cousins in the USA. As her brothers passed on, she maintained a closeness with their children, being for them a loving presence and special friend.
She enjoyed opportunities to travel with her Sisters in the Congregation, for instance to Ukraine for the 100th Jubilee of the Congregation in 1992, to the Holy Land and various Marian Apparition sites with a parish tour group in 1984, or simply for road trips by car, through Alberta or the Dakotas. Such opportunities were enriching and rejuvenating for her. Being well-balanced, she also took other classes for personal enrichment, in sewing, iconography and computer.
Sister Eugenia had a deep love for her Community, for her co-Sisters. She would often encourage them to look after themselves, and thank them for various acts of support and concern shown to her. Particularly in her illness, she was grateful for the understanding shown her. And her Sisters felt free to share their lives with her, keeping her informed with letters, while she was away.
Sister Eugenia was predeceased by her parents, Nicholas and Tatianna, and by her five brothers, Fred, Peter, Adam, Johnny and Tony and their wives. She leaves to mourn her passing numerous nieces and nephews, who loved her dearly. Unable to attend her funeral, they offer these sentiments: “Though Sister has left us in body, she will never be forgotten, living on in our memories and hearts, as we cherish the special moments spent with her. God, family and friends were her life’s purpose.” They and her Sister Servant family will miss her deeply.
A private funeral was held at the chapel in Bethany Home. On Monday evening, 30 November 2020, panakhyda was celebrated by Metropolitan Emeritus Stefan Soroka. On Tuesday, 1 December
2020, a requiem Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, with interment at Holy Family Cemetery by Rev. Zachary Shwaluk, OSBM.
Вічная їй пам’ять!
Excerpts of Sr. Eugenia’s vocation story can be heard in the clips below. Click on the bottom right of the screen to view in full screen.