In January 2012, I shared with you that part of our New Year’s resolution was to include a Sister Servants “Called by Name” vocation story in each edition of THE SOWER. The purpose was to follow the example of the disciples in “saturating Jerusalem with the message of Jesus Christ.” The stories were to show that sisters are real people with strengths and weaknesses, who try to respond to God’s call as Women Religious. The intention was to confirm that a commitment to Jesus as a religious is still very relevant, a blessing, and a very much needed vocation in our society. The affirming letters and comments from our readers to the individual sisters and to me were humbling, encouraging and hopefully a sign that parents, grandparents, friends and family will encourage women and men to enter religious life and the priesthood.
As Provincial Superior, I will share my vocation story in “wrapping up” this segment. I was born in Whiting (Hammond) Indiana to Mary and Basil Hutsko, the youngest of four children. My childhood upbringing centered on Church and family with a solid family unit – never experiencing a baby-sitter.
My parents’ lives demonstrated to their children the importance of respect, hard work and service to others. The Church was just a natural part of the fiber of our lives. All of us attended St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic School, weekly Sunday Divine Liturgy, evening services, the annual pilgrimages to Uniontown, PA, and helping at all church and school functions. I still remember the importance of confession as part of our family traditions. Each time we went to confession, we had to ask each member of our family to forgive us for any hurt we had caused them. This was not always easy, but it did give me a strong foundation of compassion and I learned not to hold grudges.
I grew up at a time when the culture supported one’s faith and it was a blessing for parents to have a child become a priest or enter religious life. My parents set a good religious foundation, and when my twin brothers entered the seminary to study for the priesthood, it just seemed natural.
My journey was a little delayed. I was familiar with the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown, PA as they were the ones who taught at our parochial school and I went every year to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help pilgrimage. Although I admired the Sisters and liked being around them, I didn’t feel any pressure to follow in my brothers’ footsteps. I worked in Chicago for a few years, but could not resist the feeling that I was being called to do something else with my life. I entered the Order of the Sisters of St. Basil in Uniontown, PA when I was 20 years old. Unfortunately, after 10 months, due to my own struggles and fears, I returned home and went back to work in Chicago. Two years later, I began to contemplate the call of religious life again. However, this time it would be a risk as “people” and even my family would see it as an embarrassment if I failed again.
The internal struggles and growth that I experienced while I was a candidate with the Sisters of St. Basil enabled me to have the courage to be open to God’s call, and not be afraid to take a second chance at religious life. I will always be grateful to the sisters for their role in my journey.
Eventually, at the age of 24, through the promptings of the late Rev. Joseph Bodnar, I entered the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Sloatsburg, NY. Although I was not Ukrainian, I was warmly accepted and felt at home with living out the Gospel values in the charism of the Sisters Servants.
I graduated from Seton Hall University and most of my religious life has been in education as a teacher and principal. The hundreds of students and parishioners, who have entered and touched my life, are a treasure which I will always cherish. I was elected Provincial Superior in 2011 for a five-year term. This ministry is a gift and a challenge for which I pray the grace to fulfill according to God’s plan.
It has not always been easy, but it has been life-giving. It has been a joy to share the charism of Blessed Josaphata with women who are committed not only with their hearts but with their whole beings. Today, the Sisters Servants are still vital players in creating a vibrant church. Our work is not done and as they say, the best is yet to come. It is with a sincere heart that I zealously invite other women to pray for the courage to discern if God is calling you to be a Sister Servant of Mary Immaculate.