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Obituary: Sr. Leonora Kondrach, OSBM

As peacefully and quietly as she lived, so was Sister Leonora’s departure from this life into the embrace of the Lord in the evening of the first of June. Her gentle spirit, her quiet ways and her sweet smile are how one will always remember her.

The daughter of the late Michael and Margaret (Havrilla) Kondrach, Sister Leonora (Irene) was born in Hazleton, Pa. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great from St. Mary’s Church in Freeland, Pa., on July 4, 1946, and made her Final Profession of Vows on August 28, 1953.

Sister Leonora dedicated over fifty years of her religious life to the ministry of teaching on the primary level, and her love of teaching is one of the ways she wanted to be remembered. In addition to being a teacher, Sister also served as principal. This much-loved ministry was interrupted by a span of five years, when Sister Leonora went on to serve in parish ministry. Teaching, however, was still in her heart, and she readily went on to serve as a teacher’s aide at St. Mary’s in Cleveland.

One would think that after a half-century, Sister would be ready to sit back and relax, but this was not so. On returning to the Monastery in Uniontown, Sister Leonora volunteered to help Sister Petronilla in pastoral ministry at the Manor.  Here, her cheerful countenance, her pleasing personality, and her encouraging words were welcomed by the many residents she visited or with whom she prayed. Even when she herself became a resident, she continued to visit and spread cheer until serious illness prevented her from doing so. Another way for which she wanted to be remembered was a spirit of trust and compassion, and this Sister surely expressed not only at the Manor but during her many years as a teacher.

Sister Leonora also had a love for music, and one of her favorite ways of relaxing was to play the piano. On any given day, she could be found or heard indulging in this recreation. In her later years, she also took up learning to play the violin, and her teacher in the Hazleton area has fond memories of the enjoyment both Sister Leonora and Sister Leona took in this activity.

Sister Leonora was preceded in death by her parents and her brother John. In addition to her members in community, she is survived by her sister Dolores (John) Kanuck, her sister-in-law Susan Kondrach, a nephew and several nieces.

Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery Chapel on Monday, June 5 from 3:30 pm to the time of the Parastas Service which will be sung at 7:00 pm. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Tuesday, June 6 at 10:30 am in the Monastery Chapel by Very Reverend Andrew J. Deskevich.

Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.



Mt. St. Macrina Cemetery Undergoes Face-Lift

Mt. St. Macrina Cemetery is undergoing a needed face-lift.  The Raimondo Company, a masonry restoration contractor, has been engaged to carry out restoration in three areas of the Cemetery:  the entrance pillars; the limestone Altar and surrounding areas including the Bishops’ headstones, balustrades; and the Versalock road leading to the main altar area.

Crews have been on site for over a week systematically applying chemical detergent and a water pressure system on all masonry surfaces, pillars, and altars.  They sandblasted the Versalock road/pathways and applied protective spray coat of silicon liquid.  They proceeded to spot point open holes and structural cracks in all existing masonry.  They repointed, bonded, mortared, patched, installed rods, inserted wire mesh, built, cured and anchored.

The pillars’ structural fissures were addressed and the existing deteriorating mosaic tiles were replaced with a limestone backing which was then painted with a decorative vine design.

Last Pilgrimage Mr. & Mrs. John Forney mentioned their willingness to contribute toward the restoration of the main altar and Bishops’ headstone in the Cemetery.  Once this project began, they graciously followed through and made a very generous contribution to help finance this project.   We Sisters are very appreciative of their generosity, and to all those who have contributed toward the upgrade of this sacred resting place.  May God grant to Mr.  & Mrs.  John Forney and Family many Blessed and Happy Years!

We Sisters believe that our cemetery is a sacred place where the memory of all our loved one is to be honored with dignity.  We will continue to do all we can to make it a tranquil place of beauty, and a place that calls us to dwell on those things that will live forever.

…Sister Seraphim, Director

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Pilgrimage Preparations begin at Mount St. Macrina Helping Hands Day Slated for Sat., June 3

11390278_10153353223304731_3789434984986539141_nHelping Hands Day, which is sponsored by the Greek Catholic Union of the U.S.A., will take place at Mount St. Macrina this year on Sat., June 3.

The annual observance combines the strengths of participants to produce meaningful results for the preparation of the 83rd Annual Pilgrimage which will be held over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2 & 3.

On this day, at Mount Saint Macrina, the faithful of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh,  the GCU (a fraternal benefit society serving Byzantine Catholics since 1892), and the many friends of the Sisters of Saint Basil join together for a common cause—to prepare the grounds for the Annual

Pilgrimage. Volunteers will clear floral gardens, shrines, urns and other plantingareas throughout the grounds, and then plant annuals. Other work centers will be the pavilions, which will be cleared of a winter’s worth of leaves and other debris.

The GCU is pleased to partner with the Sisters of St. Basil the Great and interested youth and adults for Helping Hands Day.  If you are able to participate, here are a few notes:

  • The group will meet in the Trinity Center for coffee and donuts at 9:30 a.m.
  • A brief prayer service will follow, and work will begin at 10:00 a.m.
  • Bring lawn tools (including brooms, rakes, weed whackers, etc.) for outside work. Bring brooms, mops, dust pans, etc., for any indoor cleaning.
  • Lunch will be served.

To register or for additional information, please call Sr. Joanne at 724-439-4940 or GCU at 1-800-722-4428.

Sisters of St. Basil to Hold Memorial Day Tribute

On Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day), at 11:00 a.m., the Sisters of St. Basil the Great will hold a Memorial Day tribute for the deceased buried at Mount St. Macrina Cemetery. The names of all deceased military personnel will be placed upon the altar during the Divine Liturgy (Mass) celebrated in the Monastery Chapel.  At 11:00 a.m., there will be a prayer service at the cemetery celebrated by Very Rev.Michael Huszti, JCOL. Military honors will be provided by members of the AMVETS Post 103 Honor Guard. All family members and friends are invited to join the Sisters in remembering their loved ones on this occasion.

Obituary: Sr. Jean Marie Cihota, OSBM

+SR. JEAN MARIE-2Some last-minute preparations at the Pastoral Center in Phoenix, Ariz., would be the last joyful and loving service Sr. Jean Marie would offer in the long list of her missions as a Sister of St. Basil. It was from that place that Jesus called her to Himself on Thursday evening, the 18th of May.

Sr. Jean Marie (Joanne Ann) Cihota was born in Mingo Junction, Ohio, the daughter of the late John and Anna (Burch) Cihota. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil from St. Nicholas Church in McKeesport, Pa., on February 2, 1956, and made her Final Profession of Vows on August 20, 1961.

Sister Jean Marie began her ministry as a teacher on the elementary level for about a dozen years before being called to be part of the team which organized the Religious Education program and office in Pittsburgh. As part of this group, she collaborated in initiating the God With Us series for Eastern Christian Formation. Her years in this ministry included beginning the same office in the Parma Eparchy. The office being firmly established there and in Pittsburgh, Sr. Jean Marie was called to Pastoral Ministry for the Passaic Eparchy at St. Therese Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. Here her many talents and gifts were put to good use until she answered the call to community ministry as the Assistant to the Provincial.

Sr. Jean Marie held this position for ten years, also coordinating the many aspects of life in the monastery. Additionally, she served as Vocation and Affiliate Directress for the community and was also appointed Assistant Vocation Director for the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. Her term of office concluded, the West beckoned Sister Jean Marie, and the Eparchy of Phoenix became the home of her heart for the last years of her life. She was no less generous in expending her efforts in this mission territory than in all her previous years. While she may be remembered for the Myrrh-Bearers Retreat, for her work in Safe Environment, and her continuing involvement in Religious Education, Sr. Jean Marie herself wrote that she would like to be remembered for “my love of the Lord and all I come in contact with! My great love and zeal for our Byzantine Catholic Church! Spreading the Good News of Christ!” This she truly lived fully for more than 60 years as a Basilian Sister.

Sr. Jean Marie was preceded in death by her parents, her stepmother Mary Ferko Cihota, and her sister Patricia Bellis. In addition to her members in community, she is survived by her cherished brother John, her sister Mary Lynn Rebholz, her stepsister Rita Ferko Joyce, and many devoted nieces, nephews and their families.

Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery Chapel on Tuesday, May 23 from 3:30 pm to the time of the Parastas Service which will be sung at 7:00 pm. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 24 at 10:30 am in the Monastery Chapel by Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla.

Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.

Corporate Reflection Days

The Sisters gathered at the Monastery a few weeks ago for Corporate Reflection Days. The weekend included meetings related to their life and future and some time to socialize and have fun. Pictured on the left are (left to right): Sr. Christopher, Sr. Bernarda, Sr. Janet, Sr. Margaret, Sr. Ruth (standing), Sr. Petronilla and Sr. Theodosia.

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Mount Macrina Manor – Renovation Project Update

Mount Macrina Manor is heading into the final phases of the renovation project. Phases Six and Seven were recently finished and have been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health divisions of Nursing and Life Safety.

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(Above) The Orchid resident hallway, located on the first floor was completed during Phase Six of the project. In addition to updated resident rooms, a new common area and new nursing care base were included in the plan.  At this point in the project, every resident room has been updated.

(Below) Phase Seven included the complete renovation of the Nutritional Services Department.  A tremendous amount of planning went into preparing for this difficult transition. The number one priority through this phase was to ensure the continuity of nutritional services provided to the manor residents.

The final portion of the eight phase project, which includes expanding the chapel and updating the manor entrance, will extend through the summer 2017.  At that point, the two-year, multi-million dollar renovation will be complete and residents can enjoy their beautiful new home.

Phases Snack Shop

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Easter Greetings


Christ is Risen from the dead,

   by death He trampled Death

And to those in the tombs,

  He granted Life!

Let all pious men and women and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of the Fast now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort….

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
                             (Excerpts from Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom)

The Sisters of St. Basil wish you a most blessed and radiant celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection. May the peace, joy and hope of the Resurrection reign in your hearts!

Lenten Reflection – April 11, 2017

bbea5710372e25a08a720b1fd0f7299dAs we enter into Holy and Great Week, we should realize how much Our Lord’s mercy is prevalent. Let us remember this fact and always rely on it. No matter how far we stray or transgress, the Father’s love will never reject us, but will embrace and transform us.

Unfortunately, it is not so uncommon for people to transgress the laws of God. It is easy to fall into sin. Most people realize that this is part of the human situation. Once this does happen, the question remains how do we approach our loving God to help us deal with our sin and despair? How does one face God after one has violated his laws? How do we feel when it gets to be too much and our sinfulness brings us to a time of despondency?

Just as a loving child needs the support of his/her parents when something is wrong, so does the person who has sinned need the loving support of God. How many of us believe that this support is there for us?

This concept must be understood by us in order to fully understand God’s mercy. His love for us will be the hand that brings us to Him and the pat on the shoulder that gives us the courage to move on. No matter how horrible the deed or how deep we fall, his love will never reject us.

Reflection Questions

  • In my most sinful, darkest hours, have I remembered to fall at the feet of Jesus and seek his mercy? When I have done this, has He not always generously forgiven and comforted my despairing soul?
  • Have I, in turn, sought to generously forgive others, even when they fail to seek my forgiveness?
  • As I draw closer to remembering the day of sublime mercy when Jesus died for us even though we were still in sin, have I forgiven those who have wronged me and sought forgiveness of those I have wronged?