The Birth of Our Congregation
As a young woman of Lviv, Ukraine, Michaelina Hordashevska experienced a call to the religious life and searched for a way to respond. Privately, she sought spiritual direction from Father Jeremiah Lomnitskyj, OSBM, and at one point, made a private vow of chastity for a year, with his permission and witness. At that time, there was only one women’s religious community in the Eastern or Byzantine rite in Ukraine, that of the Basilian Sisters, a cloistered order, and at first, she was discerning entering that community.
In the village of Zhuzhel, Father Kyrylo (Cyril) Seletskyj, a diocesan priest and a widower, beloved of his parishioners, was being transferred to the village of Rava-Ruska. As a parting gift to his parish, he arranged for a parish mission to be preached by a Basilian mission team, headed by Fr. Jeremiah Lomnitskyj, OSBM. The mission was very inspiring and memorable.
Destined to Live On
Our congregation had been founded to minister to the spiritual, moral, intellectual and social needs of our people, as we witness to God’s love and care. Since our founding we have identified with the plight of our Ukrainian people, many of whom emigrated to other countries in search of a better life. Over the years, the congregation branched out from western Ukraine to Canada, Yugoslavia, Brazil, United States, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, Great Britain, France, Argentina, Germany, and Australia and Kazhakstan.
In the 1940’s the communist regime in western Ukraine suppressed all the religious orders and congregations. All of our homes and institutions were seized and the Sisters were forced to go “underground”. Sister Veronica Gargil, Superior General and her Councillor, Sister Chrystophora Kachkowska, were able to escape to Czechoslovakia, and then in 1945, to Rome. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s our Sisters in Czechoslovakia also were suppressed by the communist regime and also had to live and serve their people “underground”.
In 1947 the Generalate was officially transferred from Lviv, Ukraine, to property which the Canadian Sisters Servants had purchased in Rome.
With the downfall of communism in Ukraine and Slovakia in the early 1990’s, our Sisters emerged from the “underground” and have re-established their homes and mission work, adapting to new circumstances. Sisters from Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Poland, Slovakia, Yugoslavia and from the Generalate in Rome went to Ukraine to assist the Mother province in its time of rebirth.
It was truly a great blessing to celebrate the Centenary of our Founding in 1992 in Ukraine. The Sisters in Ukraine hosted Sisters Servants from North and South America and other European countries for the largest world-wide gathering in the congregation’s history. An especially memorable Centenary Year celebration was in Zhuzheliany (formerly Zhuzhel), the location of our first home. Sisters from thirteen countries participated in a Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving and a special Jubilee program.
Our Centenary history, Glory to You, O God, published in 1992, recaptures the remarkable story of the Sisters Servants in our first hundred years. It is available in English, Ukrainian and Portuguese.
For a closer look at our beginnings, see our DVD, “Life ~ Spirit ~ Sainthood: Sister Josaphata Hordashevska”.