On August 7th, 220 people joined the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Sloatsburg, NY to celebrate our SSMI Jubilarians Sr. Evelyn Stock, Sr. Anne Roman,
Sr. Zenovia Chmilar, Sr. Michele Yakymovitch and Sr. Eliane Ilnitski.
The celebration began with an 11:00AM Divine Liturgy at the Grotto. The concelebrants were Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak, Bishop Paul Chomnycky and Bishop Bohdan Danylo, along with clergy from the Archeparchy of Philadelphia and Eparchy of Stamford. The celebration continued with a festive dinner on the outdoor terrace behind St. Mary’s Villa with approximately 220 people in attendance.
We offer our gratitude to these five Sisters for 265 years of prayer and service, vowing to Almighty God obedience, chastity and poverty. Each of these Sisters have lived their religious consecration in their own unique way making a difference in our church, in our community and in the personal lives of so many people.
Sr. Evelyn, Diamond 75 year Jubiliarian, was born in St. Clair, PA to Theodore and Mary Stock who fostered in all seven of their children a deep faith and love of God. Mary Stock prayed that a son and daughter would be given a vocation to the Priesthood and Religious Life, and her prayers were answered as her brother John became a priest and eventually Bishop John Stock, of blessed memory, and she entered the Sisters Servants.
Fidelity in a vocation to Religious Life or Married Life for 75 years is something that does not happen often. However, when such a commitment does occur, we must honor that life with utmost awe and respect. Sr. Evelyn began her life of prayer and service caring for the elderly at St. Mary’s in Philadelphia, but the need for teachers was greater, and Sr. Evelyn said yes, going where the need was, following the charism of Blessed Josaphata. She did as many of our Sisters did, teaching during the day and going to school at night. Sr. Evelyn not only earned a BA but also an MA in education. Many of her 45+ years were as Principal. She was well known for her generosity to the students and staff, modeling after her patron saint that she chose, St. Nicholas. Anyone who has served in education, knows that being in it for 45+ years indicates your stamina, but for Sr. Evelyn it also demonstrated her love for nurturing the minds and souls of so many students. Sr. Evelyn continued to go where the need was, when she asked to serve in our mission in Lourdes, France, and then to a new mission that opened in Conyers, GA. Sr. Evelyn is a resident at St. Joseph’s Home and her ministry now is focused on “Praying Always,” as she is seen in chapel for hours each day lifting up in prayer the needs of many who send us intentions.
Sr. Anne celebrates 60 years as a Sister Servant. She was born in Rochester, NY. Her parents William and Ann, were parishioners of St. Josaphat Church and their children Anne, Rose Marie and Stephen attended the parish school. Sr. Anne’s faith was nurtured by her parents, and she attributes her vocation to Religious Life to the example of service and dedication of her pastor, +Fr. Nicholas Wolensky.
Sr. Anne’s ministry in the field of education as a teacher and Principal for over 40 years in various elementary schools, combined competency with Gospel values. She held her students to high standards in developing their character and excelling in their studies. Even after leaving the ministry in Education she still retains a love for reading, developing her mind. She is like those yellow cliff notes that we all used when we didn’t feel like reading the whole book. The other ministry that is dear to
Sr. Anne’s heart, is “care for the beauty of God’s Churches,” which she took great pride in, especially at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Philadelphia for many years. She presently serves as our SSMI Sacristan at St. Joseph’s Home, following in the example of our foundress, Blessed Josaphata who stressed upon the Sisters the sacredness of caring for God’s House.
Sr. Zenovia celebrates 55 years of Consecrated Life. She was born in Germany as her parents Wasyl and Zina Chmilar were forced to leave their native Ukraine. They moved to Rochester, NY and were part of the St. Josaphat parish and school along with her sister Irene and her brother Bill. The faith-filled values and examples of her parents, pastors and sisters nurtured her desire to live the life of a Sister, and she entered the SSMI’s in 1966.
Sr. Zenovia responded to God’s call by joyfully sharing her faith with her students for over 40 years as a teacher in elementary schools across the U.S. as well as St. Mary’s Academy in Sloatsburg. Sr. Zenovia continues to touch the lives of the students and parishioners as she teaches Religion and Music at St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School in Minersville, PA. She was gifted with a beautiful voice and talent for music, and went for studies at our Christ the King Province in Canada, and is our “SSMI Cantor/Musician.” Her joyful personality and compassion are genuine and unconditional. Her ministry at St. Nicholas includes visiting the infirm and shut-ins. The impact of her visits is displayed in a note I received from a family member: “I wanted to inform you that Sr. Zenovia’s visit was just what my parents needed, they felt like she was an angel sent from God.”
Sr. Michele, Golden 50th Jubilarian, was born in Rochester, NY along with her siblings Frank, Mary Ann, Nadia and Monica to Michael and Mary Yakymovitch. They were parishioners of St. Josaphat Parish, and attended the parochial school, staffed by the SSMI’s. Sr. Michele’s position as the eldest in her family has attributed to her strong sense of responsibility, loyalty and independence. Her decision to enter religious life was her own, but the decision to enter the Sisters Servants was a little nudge from her mother.
Sr. Michele’s desire to change the world with a totally committed spirit, as a Sister Servant, began as an educator in various parish schools as well as St. Mary’s Villa Academy. Her superiors noticed a maturity and love for her consecration, which would enable her to guide young women who were contemplating Religious Life. Therefore, from 1984-1987 she attended St. Louis University for this training.
Sr. Michele also carried in her the spirit of our foundress to “go where the need is the greatest” and became Administrator of St. Mary’s Spiritual, Cultural and Educational Center for four years. Her leadership qualities were recognized by the sisters in the province, and she was elected Provincial Superior in 1995 for an unprecedented (3) three 5-year terms until 2011. Her generosity and active presence on advisory boards in the community of Sloatsburg is respected by many. Sister Michele continues to use her leadership skills, as she became Administrator of St. Joseph’s Adult Care Home in 2011, providing the elderly with compassionate and loving care. Sr. Michele already has a gold watch, so her eyes are focused on acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with her God. (Micah 4).
Sr. Eliane, our Silver 25th Jubilation, was born in Brazil along with her sisters Elizete, Elenice and Janete to Enuario and Helena Ilnitski. Sr. Eliane joined the SSMI’s in the province of St. Michael the Archangel, Brazil, in 1996. She was stationed at several Catholic schools in Brazil.
In 2005, Sr. Eliane said “yes” to come to the U.S. as a “missionary,” following the words of our foundress Blessed Josaphata to “go where the need is the greatest.” She was open to learning a new language, experiencing a different culture, and discovering the many talents she was given. Sr. Eliane’s first mission in the U.S. was at St. Mary’s Villa Retreat House in Sloatsburg. Her willingness to develop her hidden talents led her to learn the art of sewing Liturgical Vestments. She also took on the roles of our SSMI Photographer and Technology Sister.
In 2010, Sr. Eliane made a decision and sacrifice that would change her life, as well as our life in the USA Province. In her letter to Sr. Michele, she wrote, “Now after spending 5 years as a missionary, I feel that the Lord is directing me to make another commitment in my service to Him. Seeing the need of your province, I feel called to become a full member of the province of the Immaculate Conception in the USA.” In 2012, Sr. Eliane became the Principal at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School in Passaic, NJ. Her work ethic, devotion and love for St. Nicholas School & Parish was reciprocated by the deep love and respect of her students, parents and parishioners. Now, a new chapter, even something beyond Sr. Eliane’s imagination, has been placed upon her shoulders, to guide the SSMI’s in the US as Provincial Superior. She will do it joyfully with a deep faith in God.
May God grant Sr. Evelyn, Sr. Anne, Sr. Zenovia, Sr. Michele and Sr. Eliane many blessed and happy years! Mnohaya Lita!