Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week at our Open House this past Sunday. To view photos of the festivities, please follow the link >>
To shine a spotlight on the profound impact of Catholic sisters in our communities and around the world, and in conjunction with National Women’s History Month, the third annual National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) will be held March 8–14.
NCSW was created to honor women religious through a series of events, taking place across the country, that instruct, enlighten and bring greater focus to the lives of these incredible women. It’s our chance to recognize everything sisters have done for us.
National Catholic Sisters Week, a branch of National Catholic Sisters Project headquartered at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisc., is headquartered at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn., and is held in conjunction with Women’s History Month..
To learn more about NCSW or to engage via social media, visit www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org.
Early in the morning of Sun., Nov. 19, 2017, Sr. Rita (Florence) Keshock fell asleep in the Lord at Mt. Macrina Manor. While the community was praying Matins on Sunday, commemorating the Resurrection, she surely met her Risen Lord with joy and gladness.
Sr. Rita, the daughter of the late Michael and Sophia (Backus) Keshock, was born in Campbell, Ohio. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great from St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio, on June 12, 1947, and made her Final Profession of Vows on Aug. 28, 1953.
Sr. Rita spent half of her religious life in the ministry of education for which she was well–prepared, having earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education. While she served diligently in the many schools staffed by the Sisters at that time, there was a new ministry waiting for her in the wings. An article in the Byzantine Catholic World dated Jan. 14, 1996 summed it up in the words: Basilian Sister Finds New Home in the World of Art.
This was her passion. In her own words, Sr. Rita explained, “I am now a painter, a calligrapher, a crafter and an etcher.” Having learned the craft of etching onto eggs, she discovered that this would be a perfect medium for producing icons. Spending hours in her art room Sr. Rita noted that she often became lost in meditative thought of the beauty of life as she worked. Sister took great pride in the fact that, particularly her etched icons, were displayed in a number of exhibits throughout the country. She also taught the craft of etching on eggs to others in numerous workshops, thus leaving a legacy of this favored ministry of hers.
Sr. Rita was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Mary Louise and Alice (Kuzmack) and her brother Edward. She is survived by her brothers John (Katherine), Robert (+Kathryn) and Charles (Joann), her sister-in-law, Mary Jo and several nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends will be received at the Monastery Chapel on Fri., Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. to the time of the Parastas Service, which will be sung at 7:00 p.m. The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Sat., Nov. 25 at 10:30 a.m. in the Monastery Chapel by Archbishop William C. Skurla. Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.
Of Whitaker, on November 13, 2017, age 80, died peacefully after a hard fought battle with cancer. Read more>>
The daughter of the late Michael and Mary (Hrinda) Millow, Sister Helen was born in Scranton, Pa. She entered the Sisters of St. Basil the Great from St. John the Baptist Church in Scranton, Pa., on October 1, 1964 and made her Final Profession of Vows on August 6, 1972.
A graduate of Technical High School in Scranton, she was the valedictorian of her class of 400, an achievement that was not widely known beyond her family. She was employed by the Dun and Bradstreet Agency for six years prior to her entrance into religious life.
As a Sister, she earned a B.S. degree in education from Marywood University which benefited her as she began her ministry in religious life, serving as teacher and then also principal in several of the schools staffed by the Sisters throughout the Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh. From 1980 until 1997, Sister Helen was the monastery coordinator, assistant treasurer and treasurer of her Province of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
From 1995 to 2005 she worked with the staff of the Eparchy of Parma as assistant eparchial finance officer. Upon the completion of this assignment, she returned to the monastery and continued to capably fill the office of Province Treasurer, until her illness brought her to a short time of retirement.
Her extensive knowledge of finances, insurance and investments was a great asset in her role as capable treasurer both for the community and the Eparchy of Parma. She will be fondly remembered for her love for and fidelity to her Basilian community.
Sister Helen was preceded in death by her parents and her brother Michael. In addition to her members in community, she is survived by her sisters Mary Ann McLaughlin (+Charles), Anna Mae (Stanley) Lehman, Jean (Kenneth) Morgan, her sister-in-law Bernadette Millow and nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Interment will follow in the Dormition Section of Mount Macrina Cemetery.
The Sisters, who make their home at Mount St. Macrina (formerly Oak Hill estate and the home J.V. Thompson, of the famous coal baron), are in the midst of planning a future for underutilized and aging structures on the property.
“Right now we are in the initial planning stages and we are seeking possible candidates who may have innovative plans for these buildings,” said Sr. Ruth Plante, Provincial, Sisters of St. Basil.
The Sisters are considering many ideas, including affordable housing, medical and education services. It is of upmost importance for them to keep with the mission of their community – “a praying, healing, life-giving presence.”
The Sisters plan to remain living at Mount St. Macrina and will continue their ministry of the annual Pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which has been held over Labor Day weekend for the past 83 years.
Originally the property, situated along the National Road (Route 40), was acquired by the Sisters in 1933, after J.V. Thompson went into bankruptcy. The House of Prayer, which is now a retreat center, was his three-story mansion. The Oak Hill estate was a wedding gift to his second wife Honey. Thompson died in 1933 and the Sisters moved onto the property in December 1933, and their first Pilgrimage was held the following year.
Recently, the Sisters were awarded a grant from the National Religious Retirement Office. The grant paid for an evaluation of the property and buildings. The study was conducted by Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction, Appleton, Wisc.
A request for proposals will soon be distributed. Plans are to review the proposals in late winter-early spring.
“The halls and grounds are filled with so many memories. The thought of sharing or letting pieces of the property go is very emotional for us, but also very necessary. We trust God will send us the right people to continue his plan,” added Ruth.
The Sisters have enlisted the services of Newmark Grubb, a real estate marketing firm in Pittsburgh, to create a marketing brochure.
GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST! Pilgrimage 2017
Over the course of this past week, many of the external pieces of pilgrimage have slowly been packed away – the benches are back in the storage room; the tents which dotted the hillsides have been taken down; the candles have been moved indoors where they will continue to be burned in an ongoing prayer.
What continues to linger are the memories of so many spiritual blessings and memories. The remnants of hurricane Harvey attempted to disrupt us in our celebrations on Saturday, but failed. So many faithful pilgrims refused to be deterred by the chill in the air, the strength of the breeze, or the intermittent showers.
Instead, the wind was a reminder of the breath of the Spirit, and the raindrops were so many blessings flowing from Mary, the Life-giving Spring. This faith and steadfastness brought forth the fruit of a lovely, sun-filled Sunday reminding us of the loving warmth of the Light of the World. Pilgrims of all ages filled the air with hymns and prayers blanketing the Mount with happy hearts and a palpable sense of peace and joy.
Be assured that all who came had an important part in making this pilgrimage a memorable and spiritually uplifting event. We will continue to pray for you each and every day, asking our dear Mother of Perpetual Help to watch over you and protect you. May the road of your life’s journey lead you back to this holy Mount for pilgrimage 2018.
With our love, prayers, and sincere gratitude,
Sister Ruth and the Sisters of St. Basil
A lengthy article about the Pilgrimage was featured in the August 31 edition of the Herald Standard. We look forward to seeing all of you this weekend.
The article begins on C-1 and concludes on C-3. Please be sure to click the first link and then the second to continue the article.