Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration


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Laudato si: One grateful step towards a better planet

You may have heard the news coverage of the young activist Greta Thunberg berating world leaders’: “blah blah blah”.  While she, and hundreds of thousands of children and youth, watch extreme climate disasters accelerating worldwide, they see politicians continuing to boast about their grand pledges to address climate change. Where is the action? 

Meanwhile also taking place last week, (but without the same media coverage), Pope Francis gathered together religious leaders and scientists from around the world. “In his address to the participants at the meeting, Pope Francis expressed gratitude for their presence . . . and proposed three concepts to guide their reflection: openness to interdependence and sharing, the dynamism of love, and the call to respect.” (B. Mayaki, SJ. Vatican News)

They, science experts and faith leaders, have taken a common stand to present to the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in November in Glasgow, Scotland. Church and science join to press for real, effective, compassionate change for humanity. Their appeal reflects the Laudato Si goals we too are embracing in our parish as we take steps towards “ecological conversion”. While our joint actions are still hampered by COVID gathering restrictions, we can take individual household actions together.

Do not think that our actions are ineffective. What you and I do, what we do as a collective, makes a difference. A marathon begins with a single stride.

This Thanksgiving Weekend offers a perfect opportunity to spotlight our consumption of food and its repercussions.  In Canada, Thanksgiving is a happy acknowledgment of gratitude: gratitude for the beauty of the earth as it bursts with ripeness. We also acknowledge our thankfulness each time we pray before meals. How fortunate we are that we have daily meals that we choose according to our wishes! There are many ways we can share our good fortune with others. One way to make an impact collectively is if our parish, each member, commits to have one day a week without any meat. “Meatless Mondays”/Friday (or any day). It’s as simple as that, but it’s a commitment we must undertake seriously.

“By going meatless just one day per week, you are decreasing your meat consumption by nearly 15 percent, decreasing the environmental consequences associated with meat production, too. Another way to look at it is like this: If the entire U.S. [only] did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles — or taking 7.6 million cars off the road,” says the Earth Day Network.

Reducing our meat consumption is one of the biggest ways our actions can improve the health of the planet. This initiative began in the first world war and has been used in countries decades ago to improve children’s health. Now it is a UN sponsored global movement active in over 40 countries. This is an action encouraged by our Church. Let us, families of Holy Transfiguration Parish KW, take this small but wonderful step for our planet. For more information about the history and importance of Meatless Mondays please read this article: (English language)

Please email me ( with any meatless recipes you love, and I will share them on our parish email!

This Thanksgiving Day I also want to thank each one of you for your presence in our community. I pray that we always may find a renewed peace and comfort in each other.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!


Compassionate and loving God,

you created the world for us all to share,

a world of beauty and plenty.

Create in us a desire to live simply,

so that our lives may reflect your generosity.

Creator God,

You gave us responsibility for the earth,

a world of riches and delight.

Create in us a desire to live sustainably,

so that those who follow after us

may enjoy the fruits of your creation.

God of peace and justice,

You give us the capacity to change,

to bring about a world that mirrors your wisdom.

Create in us a desire to act in solidarity,

so that the pillars of injustice crumble

and those now crushed are set free.

Amen. (Linda Jones)

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Laudato, Si: Laudatus means praise. Praise springs from joy.

Last week, when asked to reflect on the goals of Laudatus Si, did it seem daunting or impractical? Possibly the idea of integral ecology was too unfamiliar? Yet, this Sunday’s readings, once again, remind us that these goals are roadmaps to help us follow Christ, and as Christians, this has been our purpose since baptism. On this Sunday after the feast-day of The Exaltation of the Cross, we hear Paul emphasizing the distinction between following laws and following Christ. I think the latter is decidedly harder. How often do we act poorly towards others without breaking any laws? We’ve just had the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Many who participated in the systemic oppression of indigenous people throughout Canada’s history were usually not breaking laws. However, although they might have called themselves Christians, they were not following Christ. The New Testament does not promote anarchy or lawlessness, but its many books, letters, and stories reiterate one central truth: God is love and our purpose on earth is to love each other as we are loved by God.Yes, we were made to love. However, don’t we find ourselves following laws of fashion, wealth, social success, power, or popularity more easily than a “law” of love? In Mark’s gospel the invitation to take up our cross and follow Christ may seem like a call to suffering. But Christ’s death transformed the cross into a victory of Love. It is our call to carry Love to the world, despite its unpopularity or economic unfeasibility.

Laudatus means praise. Praise springs from joy. Hence our roadmap is not onerous, but it steers us away from the mainstream laws of self-importance. It takes us to the passion of connection to others.

Our community lives in praise and love! Last week so many responded to project Smile, ready to spread joy to our sisters in Ukraine. Through our prayers and actions we know the warmth that

comes with caring for others. Paul asserts that Christ lives in him because he knows that he (Paul) is loved regardless of his failings. This is powerful faith—not adherence to laws, but faith that we are loved first, no matter what. No matter what, we are valued and cherished. Let that conviction give us compassion for our own shortcomings so that forgiving ourselves we can be drawn to kindness and understanding of others. Drawing on Laudato Si, as we carry forward Project Smile, we will also introduce new initiatives for us, as a community, to reach out to the KW community around us.

Breathe in love, exhale joy!

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Laudato, Si: All-powerful God . . . bring healing to our lives


Here are the seven goals the Church asks us to consider in our journey towards ecological conversion. This is a call to action to you and to me—to every Christian—to every woman and man of “good will”.

Canada’s election is over. The nation’s leadership has the uphill battle of guiding our country out of the pandemic to a society with a better “normal” than pre-COVID. But Pope Francis has spoken tirelessly about committing to building a better world after COVID. The election campaigning of all the major parties echoed our call to conversion: care for the climate, the vulnerable, the economy, the physical and mental health of people and families. The election results demonstrate that voters expect cooperation amongst parties for the good of the entire population.

While factions prevent positive developments in any sector, everyone benefits from community wellbeing.  Remember the Ubuntu story? (See our website: and press on 2019.08.25) “How can I be happy when another is sad?” Just as the country needs every member to act responsibly, so too the human community needs every member to reflect Christ’s image in order to literally ‘make the world a better place’ for every individual.

Before we plan the steps of our personal and parish journey towards integral ecology, please take time to reflect on your current actions: at home, at work, at church, at play, how does what I do respond to the needs of our world today? Do my actions correspond to the 7 goals guiding us towards more holistic living? Once I recognize where I stand now in my conversion course, I’ll be able to see my direction more clearly.

Prayer for action (from Laudato Si Action Platform):

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.

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Laudato, Si: Can we look beyond our own self-interest?

As we begin the new liturgical year, I think of our journey together since our small family officially joined the parish family.  Together, as a community, we move in prayer towards learning how to live each day with deeper understanding of God’s love in us and around us. This learning is life-long, forever new, forever challenging, forever expanding. It is at once exciting and scary too—because real learning means we might see differently and more scary still—we might have to act differently. Living our Faith inevitably pushes us beyond our personal comfort zones. But that’s why it’s so good that we have each other—our parish family.

As the world faces climate crisis and social breakdown, Church leaders have issued an invitation to all people of good will to join forces to create effective positive action towards a better future. Last week I spoke of us joining the global “Laudato Si” movement and recognizing its holistic goals:  7 goals for each of us to embrace and actualize in the next 7 years of our life.

Pope Francis calls each of us “to undergo an “ecological conversion,” that develops our awareness of the relationships between Creator, creation, and all our brothers and sisters.” “Through this conversion, the effects of our encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in our relationship with the world around us, as we seek to protect our brothers and sisters by protecting the home we share.” (Laudato Si’, 217) Since “conversion naturally becomes action” Laudato Si will provide a plan of suggested actions for each goal on October 4th, the close of the Month of Creation. This document will help us choose concrete actions that will flow from our desire to build integral ecology in our own community and in our own lives.

Please take time to carefully read the historic joint message issued by the Pope (Catholic), the Ecumenical Patriarch (Orthodox), and the Archbishop of Canterbury (Anglican), for the “Protection of Creation”. Their words to us can begin and deepen our—your, my—ecological conversion, so that we together create peace, carry hope, and generate joy.  (SEE: Joint Message for the Protection of Creation)

This Monday we have the privilege of casting our vote for our country’s leadership. Each vote helps shape our collective response to “creation, and all our brothers and sisters.” Can we look beyond our own self-interest and beyond the political rhetoric of elections to choose politicians who care for the well-being of people more than that of the economy? The true value of a society lies in its care for those who are most vulnerable.  May we choose well.

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Laudato, Si: Praise be to you, my Lord

  It’s September: a month that so poetically reflects life’s “harmonious dissonance”! Summer draws to a close, and the earth is bursting with ripeness. Yet, the sweet fulness of growth is tinged with a hint of decay. Without the immediate labour of harvesting, fruits of the earth rot and feed the soil, rather than people and animals. We are part of nature and our actions impact the cycles of life. As nature ends another year of creating life, we begin another year of co-creating: processing harvests, beginning a new school year, beginning a new liturgical year.

  This September is particularly unique in that also we have a federal election and our Church, together with other Faiths, have designated September as the Season of Creation. Ultimately, we are in a season of decisions. And decisions carry potential for healing and hope. COVID persists, but our world is never static; we carry on, albeit with pandemic repercussions that people exhibit in opposing ways. We continue to see displays of human behaviour ranging from the most self-less to the most selfish. Let’s strengthen the former and overpower current surges of animosity with a concerted force of actions for goodness.

  As we enter the month of September, let’s join the “Laudato Si” movement that is gathering momentum throughout the world. The words Laudato Si begin a prayer of St Francis: “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs” (Laudato Si 1.). This ecumenical movement calls for “common care for our common home”.

  In the words of Pope Francis:

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.

This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters (Laudato Si 2.)”.

In the following weeks we’ll talk about Laudato Si approaches and goals to use in our own life and the life of our parish that strive towards healing and hope for our societies and the environments we inhabit.

  Also, we’ll include pages of an educational book about Bishop Budka that was published in Manitoba for young students. The martyr Bishop Budka gave his life for healing and hope in our communities here and in Ukraine. His legacy can help us in this particular time of creation.

May we actively be co-creators with our God who is Love and the source of all goodness.

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Our faith teaches us that we are members of God’s family and our choices must reflect our common good and the good of God’s creation

I’m disconcerted with newscasts covering our current elections. We see such unbridled malice directed at elected politicians who have tried to steer our country through the unprecedented hardships of a global pandemic. I am dismayed at how people place their energy into what appears to be violent anger—growing into a hysteria of unkindness aimed at anyone who differs from them in opinion or appearance.

The gospel readings this Sunday directly address this human behaviour. In Matthew, we hear the story of the fellow who owes a large sum of money to his creditor. Not having the funds he owes, he begs for accommodation—time to pay back, deferral of punishment—anything! The manager feels sorry for the defaulter, sees his plight, and cancels the debt.

Imagine. In this country, when the pandemic struck, tax payment was deferred, some of us received payments to help us through income loss . . .

Well, we know what happens in the parable: instead of being grateful for the compassion he received, the debt dodger violently punishes a man unable to repay money owed to him. The injustice is blatant. Despite the passage of 2 millennia, we feel indignation at such a portrait of flagrant entitlement. And human nature remains the same. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians also appeals to our sense of fairness, justice, and compassion. Paul’s readers begrudge the income owed to their spiritual leaders. They begrudge others having what they themselves have to live comfortably. Both readings speak to human impulses and freedom of choice. We have in us a basic instinct towards greed, selfishness, self-interest. Also, we have the freedom to rise above our base impulses to choose justice, compassion, kindness. Through Christ we can choose goodness; we can choose to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated.

Our freedom to see the transfigured world is not a whimsical idea for Sundays only. It is a serious life choice that can be unpopular and feel uncomfortable. However, the more we walk the path, the easier it becomes. Walking in the steps of Christ we join untold numbers of others on a road of constant discovery, fresh relationships, and creative forces.

On Sept 20th we’ll be electing MPs to represent us in parliament. On what do we base our decisions? Whomever we choose, there are questions to ask ourselves before we check the ballot box: Does community welfare outweigh individual desire?  Are taxes vilified? It is only through taxes that we can have healthcare for everyone.

Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to dedicate September as a month of prayer for us to make choices “that promote a simple and sustainable lifestyle.” He sees this not only as how we treat our environment, but more fundamentally about the choices we make in all aspects of our life. In his appeal he speaks of young people who “have the courage to undertake projects for environmental and social improvement, since the two go together.” Pope Francis’s reflections can guide us in our vote later this month.

–Are we choosing a candidate who will support and enhance our public health care system? Are they protecting our elderly (Long Term care) and our children (childcare).

–Is our vote going to someone who will help address the social inequities which have been so clearly manifested during this pandemic?

–Pope Francis says: “Our degradation of the natural world is (…) already undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people—or 40 percent of humanity.” Will our vote be respectful of the environment or ignore the dire global situation and continue what he refers to as “ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies.”

Often our politicians are successful because they appeal to our particular desires as individuals; our faith teaches us that we are members of God’s family and our choices must reflect our common good and the good of God’s creation.

Each Christian man and woman, every member of the human family, can act as a thin yet unique and indispensable thread in weaving a network of life that embraces everyone. May we feel challenged to assume with prayer and commitment, our responsibility for the care of creation. May God, ‘the lover of life’ (Wisdom 11:26), grant us the courage do good without waiting for someone else to begin, or until it is too late.”   Pope Francis

Quotes from Pope Francis taken from “Pope highlights ‘sustainable lifestyle’ in prayer intention for September” Sept. 2, 2021 La Croix International

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To see through Christ’s eyes, we see the miracle of fruit, of sustenance, we see the healing power of flowers and herbs, we see the peaceful end of a loving life as sleep before a new awakening.

This past Sunday we blessed fruits of the season in celebration of our praznyk, the Transfiguration, and this weekend we bless flowers and herbs, remembering the death of the Mother of God: Uspennia. Every year the blessed produce of the earth calls us to revisit our perception: how we see—ourselves, our world, each other. The gospels teach us that the world is transfigured through Christ. As Christians, as Ukrainian Catholics, as members of our parish, our tradition points to the sanctity of all creation. We’ve said that we are a transfigured community—coming together for our liturgies to strengthen our desire to be light in our world. On Mt Tabor, the disciples saw their friend illuminated in divine light: Jesus the Christ of the Triune God. In time they recognized and recorded that we too must strive to live in the dazzling reality that God is in us and in everything around us.

Dare I let this fact transform me? Dare I deny it?

  Perhaps the most difficult barrier to my transfiguration is letting myself believe that I, with all my faults, insecurities, and secrets, have God in me—whether I like it or not. I am (you are) loved—whether or not I choose to acknowledge it. Transfiguration comes to us when we consciously choose to see, to live, through love—Christ-like love: not romantic sentimentalism, but the essential life force of creation. When I let myself feel integrally loved, I glimpse the transfigured world: God’s love in everything connecting everything, without exception.

To see through Christ’s eyes, we see the miracle of fruit, of sustenance; we see the healing power of flowers and herbs, we see the peaceful end of a loving life as sleep before a new awakening. A transfigured perception can’t turn away from its connections. To see as Christ did is to reject learned prejudices that obscure what we might encounter before us. Transfigured sight sees the plight of Afghani people; hears the lament of Haitians, recognizes the loss of indigenous lives, grieves the degradation of the environment and stands with women, abused at work and at home.

Transfigured sight isn’t blinded by despair or deluded by conspiracies or pious hope. Transfigured sight looks for Christ, for Love, within oneself, and finding love generates strength and confidence to oppose what is wrong and takes action for justice in whatever steps are possible.

  The martyrs depicted on our new icon were ordinary people who lived their regular daily lives as best they could. They found themselves in circumstances of extraordinary cruelty, violence, and inhumanity, yet they managed to live in the light of the Transfiguration, being an oasis of love even for their captors. In times of suffering and terror, we often wonder why God has abandoned us. Yet, just as Christ walked with the most unwelcome of his culture and religion, God remains with us and in us. We can strive to see reality transfigured and become one with it. We can carry the blessed flowers and herbs of Uspennia (Dormition) with us throughout life so that our existence becomes a source of beauty and healing.

“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

These feast days of sharing fruits and flowers, carry a spirit of contrasting realities: fear/hope, life/death, joy/sorrow, earth/heaven. As we end another COVID praznyk, I hope we have garnered some strength from each other to enable us to continue caring, sharing, and loving. We are in a time of COVID exhaustion, climate disaster, social inequality, and global terror. May our community of transfiguration generate love and energy to hold the tensions of today with positive action towards justice and peace.

“Thanks to God and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19. They grant us the hope of ending the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we work together. Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love. Love for oneself, love for one’s family and friends, love for all people.”

Pope Francis Aug. 20, 2021

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Nykyta Budka — bishop, pioneer, and martyr (1877-1949)

Про священномученика Никиту Будки дивись:

Amongst the martyrs depicted on our new icon, to the right of Metropolitan Sheptytsky is a figure for whom we, members of our parish, can feel particularly grateful. The first Ukrainian Catholic bishop of Canada, Nykyta Budka, came to Kitchener in 1926 to bless the newly built sanctuary for our nascent community of the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord.

Blessed Martyr Budka began his life’s arduous journey in Dobromirka, Zbarazh Region, on June 7th, 1877. In 1905 he was ordained a priest by Metropolitan Sheptytsky. In October 1912, he was ordained bishop and assigned to serve our people in Canada.
The task awaiting him in Canada was daunting: 17 priests and communities of faithful from Nova Scotia to Alberta!
He centred his ministry in Winnipeg.

  His first undertaking was to assure our newly immigrated people that their Church cares for them, while he negotiated with Roman Catholic bishops who claimed control over our Ukrainian Greco-Catholic faithful. Bishop Budka ministered to our growing Canadian Church with selfless energy and fortitude. He travelled to visit all Ukrainian settlements, wrote pastoral letters, encouraged the establishment of parish schools, catechism for children; he founded orphanages and instituted hospitals run by the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate.

However, the war and postwar years were by far the most harrowing. The spite of some Ukrainians and the ignorance of Canadian authorities resulted in Bishop Budka’s arrest for treason in 1918. (This was due to a letter he wrote in 1914—prior to the commencement of war—where he mentioned a need to pray for the Austrian Emperor.) The trial took place and the charges were dropped, but the judge warned the bishop to watch what he says.

Another hardship the bishop endured was the conflict amongst our people regarding the Petro Mohyla residence in Saskatoon. The rift arose between those wanting lay or Church ownership of the cultural centre. His opponents vilified the bishop in the press and historians claim this was a factor in the fragmentation of the community and the establishment of the Orthodox Church in Canada (1918).

  The hard work and relentless accusations against him took a toll on Bishop Budka’s health. He applied for leave of his duties as bishop and returned to Ukraine the next year. Leaving behind a mature, strong Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, he joined Metropolitan Sheptytsky and worked closely with him in Lviv. There his health improved, but not fully.

  In addition to his responsibilities in the metropolia, Bishop Budka restored the church in Zarvanytsia, where the wonder-working icon of the Mother of God is kept. This is where our parish’s UCWLC has funded a summer camp experience for residents of the Petryky orphanage.

 April 11th, 1945, all Ukrainian Catholic bishops in Soviet territory are arrested. Bishop Budka is accused of anti-Soviet activity and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in a concentration camp near Karaganda. He worked as a medic and died there October 1st 1949. His body was thrown on the taiga for wild animals to devour, so that his grave wouldn’t become a place of devotion for prisoners. He had garnered great respect from others of all ethnicities and religions. Even the prison guards, who were to strip his body naked, honoured him by leaving his body clothed.

This Blessed Martyr not only blessed our church, but his antimension—signed by him in 1926—hangs on the wall opposite the new icon of Ukrainian martyrs.

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Emilian Kovch — priest, patriot, and righteous (1884-1944)

Інформація по-укр.::

“Kovch, whose German was perfect, yelled at the German soldiers to let him into the synagogue [which probably the Germans had set aflame]. They were shocked into silence and let him in. Father immediately began to carry people out of the burning synagogue. Among those that Fr. Kovch saved was rabbi of Belz Aaron Rokeach.”

Fr. Emilian Kovch, a priest and martyr, was born on 20 August 1884, in Kosmach near Kosiv. After graduating from the College of Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1911. In 1919 he became field chaplain for the Ukrainian Galician Army. After the war and until his imprisonment in the Second World War he conducted his priestly ministry in Przemysliany, at the same time tending to his parishioners’ social and cultural life. He helped the poor and orphans, though he had six children of his own.

  During World War II he carried out his ministry, preaching love to people of all nationalities and rescuing Jews from death. He was arrested by the Gestapo on 30 December 1942. He displayed heroic bravery in the concentration camp, protecting the prisoners sentenced to death from falling into despair.

  He died in the ovens of the Majdanek Nazi death camp on 25 March 1944. He was recognized as a “Righteous Ukrainian” by the Jewish Council of Ukraine on 9 September 1999.

I understand that you are trying to free me. But I am asking you not to do anything. Yesterday they killed 50 persons here. If I I were not here, who would help them to endure these sufferings? I thank God for His kindness to me. Except heaven this is the only place I would like to be. Here we are all equal: Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Russians, Latvians and Estonians. I am the only priest here. I couldn’t even imagine what would happen here without me. Here I see God, Who is the same for everybody, regardless of religious distinctions which exist among us. Maybe our Churches are different, but they are all ruled by the same all-powerful God. When I am celebrating the Holy Mass, everyone prays . . .. Don’t worry and don’t despair about my fate. Instead of this, rejoice with me. Pray for those who created this concentration camp and this system. They are the only ones who need prayers… May God have mercy on them…” — From Fr. Emilian Kovch’s letters written in the concentration camp to relatives.

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Sister Lavrentia (Harasymiv) (1911-1952)

The martyr Sister Lavrentia (Harasymiv) was born on 30 September 1911 in the village of Rudnyky, Lviv District. In 1931 she entered the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Tsebliv. In 1933 she made her first vows. Sr. Lavrentia practiced herbal medicine and taught catechism. In 1938 she went to the Sisters’ house (monastery) in Khyriv. In 1950 she agents of the NKVD (predecessor of the KGB) attacked the house and the sisters were arrested. Sr. Lavrentia was sent to Boryslav. Eventually, she was sentenced to lifelong exile in the Tomsk region. She was sick with tuberculosis and had to live in a room with a paralyzed man. She prayed much and did manual labour, patiently enduring inhuman living conditions and the lack of medical attention.

  She died, as a martyr for the faith, on 28 August 1952 in the village of Kharsk in Siberia’s Tomsk Region.