This international Order of the Eastern Catholic Church is the oldest monastic order in the world, tracing its roots to the 4th century and St. Basil the Great, for whom it is named. St. Basil, the Archbishop of Caesarea of Cappadocia in Asia Manor, is known as the Father of Eastern Monasticism. His sister St. Macrina was entrusted with the administation and direction of a first women monastery.

The first monastery was built on the banks of the Iris River, Asia Manor, that attracted pious women from nearby estates. Many of them came from wealthy families, but neither their station in life, nor their wealth, nor their secular importance mattered behind the cloister walls. Each lived simply and modestly in a sparsely furnished cell. Each ate and drank what was provided by the monastic kitchen at designated times. Each dressed modestly in garments provided by the monastic directress. And each was resolved to live a life dedicated to prayer. They were inspired both by the example of St. Macrina and by the words of St. Basil the Great.
The precepts of St. Basil were the Gospel as Rule of Life, Community Living, and Service to the Local Church and needy. After his death, his way of monastic life spread throughout Greece and into the Slav countries of central and eastern Europe.
With the coming of Christianity to Kyivan Russ (now Ukraine) the women’s monasteries were also established, in which the nuns lived according to the Rule of St. Basil. Mentioned is the first monastery of St. Irene in the year 1037 that Prince Jaroslav the Wise had built in Kiev. The monastery was the prototype for other cloisters, which were soon established throughout the entire and neighbouring countries.
In 1617 a reform of the men’s monasteries began by Metropolitan Joseph Rutsky that had an effect also on the way of life of some women’s monasteries. They were not centalized as men’s monasteries, but remained independent of one another under the authority of an Ihumenya and the supervision of the local hierarch.
In the 17th century, following the Union of Brest-Litovsk in 1695, began a renaissance in monasticism. It was the reformers of this time who urged a more active and service-oriented role for the sisters who had been living a predominantly contemplative life in strictly cloistered communities. The sisters returned to their mission of teaching. They established schools, which served not only members of their religious communities, but the laity as well. In 1720, the Synod of Zamose re-imposed on monasteries a strict cloister existence. Small religious communities were consolidated; the number of women devoting themselves to religious life dwindled.
In 1772, in the Eparchies united with Rome in present Ukraine and Byelorussia, there were still 25 women’s monasteries with 200 members. During the Division of Poland (1772-95), the sisters under Russia, ruled by Catherine II (+1795) lost most of their monasteries. The rest were forcibly closed by Nicholas I (1825-55). The sisters who resisted were sent to the monastery prison in Myadzol Stary in Byelorussia or were dismissed.
As a result of the reform by Emperor Joseph II (+1790), in Halichyna (western Ukraine), then in Austrian territory, many monasteries were closed. However, four monastic centers survived and even flourished until the final years of World War II: Yavoriv, Slovita, Lviv and Stanislaviv. The sisters in these monasteries continued their spiritual tradition and their work in educating children and young people.
In 1897, the Metropolitan Sylvester Sembratovych appointed the Basilian Fathers to carry out a reform (1887-1902). In compliance, in 1909, under the guidance of Metropolitan Andrew Sheptycky, the Basilian Sisters held a Chapter at which the Rule as arranged by Metropolitan Rutskyj was accepted. From then on, new monasteries of Basilian Sisters, as well as their educational institutions, began to develop not only in Halychyna, but also in other countries of the world.
The first Basilian Sisters came to the United States in 1911 from Yavoriv Monastery. Sisters came on the request of Soter Ortynsky, Bishop for all Catholics of the Byzantine Rite in America. They established the first monastery in Philadelphia. After the division of the Administration of the Byzantine Catholics Church in America into two jurisdictions in 1918 – one for Ukrainians and another for Ruthenians, the monastery was founded in Cleveland, Ohio (now with the center in Uniontown, Pensylvania).
The Slovita Monastery sent sisters to Yugoslavia in 1915 where the first monastery was established in Krizevci (now Croatia). In 1921, the Stanislaviv Monastery founded a home, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Uzhorod (Ukraine) and with this foundation also in Presov (Slovakia) in 1922. Later, in 1935, Sisters from Uzhorod founded a monastery in Mariapocs, (Hungary). Sisters from the monastery in Pidmykhajlivtsi went to Apostoles, Argentina in 1939.
Both World Wars revealed forcesfully the need to unite all the monasteries of the Order under one central government, in order to encourage and strengthened their growth and also their very existence. In 1951, the Holy See, with the Decree ‘Ad Septennium’, proclamed the centralization of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great, bestowing on it papal status and naming the first General Curia:
General Superior: M. Eusebia Bilas;
General Councillors:

  • M. Augustine Krynicky,
  • M. Sofronia Erdelyi,
  • M. Leonida Kichinko,
  • M. Anna Badovinec.

General Curia appointed S. Salome Berdar for General Secretary and M. Augustine Krynicky as General Econome.
Today the Order has 630 sisters who live in the Ukraine – Most Holy Trinity Province in Lviv and Saint Elias the Prophet Contemplative Monastery in Brjuchovyci; in Hungary – Dormition of the Mother of God Delegature; in Slovakia – Sorrowful Mother of God Province in Presov and Saints Cyril and Methodius Vice-Province in Secovce (1994); in Poland – Holy Cross Province (1958); Croatia – St. Basil and Macrina Vice-Province in Krizevci and St. Michael the Archangel Province in Osijek; in Italy at the Generalate in Rome (1954) and Contemplative Monastery in Albano; in the United States of America - Jesus Lover of Humanity Province in Fox Chase Manor, PA and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province in Uniontown; PA and Sacred Heart Contemplative Monastery in Middletown; in Argentina - Christ the King Province; in Australia - Holy Family Delegature (1967); in Brazil - St. Macrina Delegature (1972) and in Romania - Immaculate Heart of Mary Province.
The Rule of St. Basil places great stress on perfect love of God and on active love of neighbour. The education of youth was one of the services recommended by St. Basil. Therefore, in addition to teaching in schools, Basilian Sisters work in charitable institutions, hospitals, are engaged in parochial work, catechetics, religious organizations, publications and liturgical sewing. They are at the service of Universal Church especially of the Eastern Rite and their local church.

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