Sister Hilary Lenyk died peacefully, at St. Boniface Hospital Winnipeg, MB on April 22, 2020, at the age of 95; a Sister Servant of Mary Immaculate for 77 years.
Olga was born August 22, 1924, to Athanasius and Sophie (Bay) in Guernsey, Saskatchewan. Her parents immigrated from western Ukraine, settling in SK. Olga had two sisters and three brothers. Two brothers died in infancy.
Olga was always grateful to God for her parents for their love. Their deep prayer life was a witness to nurturing Olga’s faith. After completing high school at Sacred Heart Academy in Yorkton, SK, Olga felt an inner call to deepen her relationship with God. Fulfilling this desire, she entered the Sisters in Mundare, AB in 1943, twelve years after her sister Pauline (Sister Eleanor, ssmi). Olga took the name Sister Hilary and professed final vows in 1952.
Sister Hilary’s first mission was a nurse’s aide at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Mundare. Her next mission was working with children, where she discovered her love of teaching young children. After obtaining her teaching degree, she taught in Saskatoon, Montreal, Oshawa, Winnipeg and Hamilton. In Regina, Sister Hilary oversaw correspondence catechism. She taught summer catechisms throughout Canada. Wherever she taught, children all loved her. In Oshawa, the principal attested to the fact that Sister Hilary’s students did not look forward to holidays or weekends. Students preferred to stay with Sister Hilary, as they felt her nurturing, caring, warmth and compassion.
In 1982, Sister Hilary was missioned to Winnipeg. She and Sister Carmela Lukey worked at the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchial Religious Education Centre for 25 years. She was responsible for managing the office, library and audio-visual department, distributing resources to catechists to supplement their catechetical lessons, as well as helping their own formation. Catechists were always grateful how she served, met their needs and touched them in many ways with her love and gentle disposition. Resources were also sent and appreciated by parents, UCWLC, youth, personal care homes, other religious education centers, community, schools, Stoney Mountain Institution and outlying Indigenous communities.
For 25 years, she did volunteer prison ministry at Stony Mountain, where she attended Saturday evening mass. After the service, she and other volunteers were available for one on one or within a group setting to be present to inmates who then had the opportunity to share their life stories. Inmates always felt comfortable opening up to Sister Hilary and valued her compassionate stance towards them.
Sister Hilary enjoyed her contemplative retirement with gardening, cooking, participating with the Bat Kol Torah group which allowed her to experience her relationship with Jesus more deeply. She volunteered at Holy Family Home taking time to engage in conversation with the residents. Residents looked forward to and valued this.
Sister Hilary was predeceased by her parents, brothers Michael, Alexander and Nicholas (Katherine), sisters Mary Dobko (Sam) and Sister Eleanor, ssmi. She is survived by nieces and nephews who treasured her supportive friendship and are now grieving this loss. She will be missed by her community of Sisters.
“Grant, O Christ, that Sister Hilary, who has gone from this life, may be received in Your unspeakable glory where happiness reigns and the sound of pure joy is always heard.”
A private service was celebrated. A memorial service will be held at a later date to honour her life.
May the memory of Sister Hilary be eternal – Вічна її пам’ять!