The 50th anniversary of the settlement of the Basilian Sisters in Australia (28.03.1967) provides an opportunity to examine the Sisters' work during their time in Christ's vineyard in Australia.
During these years, the Sisters lived and worked in the community in mutual service and charity. They were united by prayer of dedication and service in accordance with the traditions, rules, spirituality and teaching of their founder, St. Basil the Great, (329-379) while following the example of their Mother - St. Macrina. With sensitivity and service, they responded to the needs of the Church and people, especially those who belong to the Eastern Rite. From the first day, the Sisters were responsible for the beautifying and preparation for various feasts in the temple of God. They tended the vestments, Sacramental Bread, and cuisine of the clergy.
From the very beginning, with great pleasure, they were dedicated to evangelizing and spreading the Kingdom of God here on earth, and continuing the saving mission of Jesus Christ.
One of the main goals of the Sisters was the care of children in kindergartens, schools, and youth organizations, which they implemented immediately on arrival in Australia.
Over these years, the Sisters conducted catechism classes in nearly all Ukrainian centers and visit parishioners in Australia and Tasmania. They actively participated in the preparation of youth and children for the celebration of the 1000 th Anniversary of the Baptism of Ukraine.
They conducted kindergartens, taught religion in Ukrainian schools, were active in the Apostleship of Prayer, directed the Altar Boys, Legion of Mary, Prayer groups, supported mixed marriages, worked in the printing house "Prosvita" and printed the weekly newspaper «Church and Life» from 1971-1994, visited, and carried aid to the sick and infirmed in homes and hospitals, remembering the words of Jesus Christ:
"Truly Itell you, whateveryou did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me' (Matthew 25, 40).
The women's branch of the religious Order of Saint Basil the Great (OSBM), Archbishop of Caesarea of Cappadocia, Asia there began a new development for the Basilian Sisters and their work, particularly in regard to the care and education of orphaned girls in Galicia and beyond : Lviv, Pidmychajlivci, Slovita, Yavoriv, Stanislaviv, Uzhhorod, Presov (Slovakia) Krizevci (Croatia).
The Sisters were sympathetic to the fate of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian settlers in Argentina. To save this Ukrainian situation, on 20th August, 1939 Metropolitan Andrey Sheptyskyj advised that two Basilian Sisters, Sofronia and Margareta, from the convent in Pidmychajlivci, go to Argentina. God blessed their work. Sisters preside over the schools (primary and secondary), boarding schools for girls, shelters for children, kindergartens; they catechize and care for the elderly.
InAustralia, aftertheestablishment of the Apostolic Exarchate, a wide field was opened up for the work of female religious Orders. Apostolic Exarch Bishop Ivan Praska appealed to the General Curia of the Basilian Sisters in Rome with a request to send Sisters on a mission to Australia.
24 March, 1966 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Province of Christ the King Sisters of Saint Basil the Great in Argentina. Dreams were born on this day of missionary work for the Sisters in an unknown country - Australia. The reason for the dreams was receipt of a letter from Rome from Mother Claudia Fedash, General Superior, to the Reverend Mother Superior Maria Afinec in Berisso (13.04.1966) in which was written:
"The harvest is great and the labourers few" (Matthew.9, 35-38), and then: "My dear Mother! The Exarch of Australia, His Eminence Bishop Ivan Praska, has for a long time been asking us about the Sisters and now, in this instance, has asked for assistance from our Cardinal" (His Beatitude Patriarch Josyf Slipyj). Our Eminence definitely wants you, dear Mother, to go there and start our Basilian Order.
Good tidings arrived in Rome on 30 March, 1966 when a humble response from Mother Superior Maria: "... On the feast of the Annunciation I said, "Behold, I am Your servant, Jesus, let it happen as you say, and I am now waiting for a response from dear Mother, for my desire is: to be a missionary ... "
25 January, 1967: After farewelling relatives and Sisters in Argentina - voyage on the ship "Giulio Cesare" to Rome.
12 February, 1967: Arrival in Rome. Meeting with Reverend Mother Superior Claudia, and Sisters of the General Curia and Patriarch Joseph Slipyj.
14 March, 1967: Sisters sailed from Naples on the ship "Galileo Galilee:'
21 March, 1967: Landed in Freemantle, Western Australia. The Sisters were welcomed at the port by the local parish priest Fr. Ivan Szewciw who showed them the sites of the city and nearby landscape. In the evening the ship sailed for Melbourne.
25 March, 1967: Arrived in Melbourne where the Sisters met His Eminence Bishop Ivan Praska. 26 March, 1967: Participation
in the Pontifical Divine Liturgy at which the priestly ordination of Father Dmytro Seniv took place. In the evening sailed to Sydney.
28 March, 1967: At 7.30am the ship moored at Sydney Harbour. The Sisters were welcomed by a group of faithful Sydney parishioners, youth, children, priests and the head of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, Yaroslav Mykytovych. On the threshold of the temporary convent at 29 Mary Street, Lidcombe, the Sisters were greeted by Prelate Father Michael Melnyk with bread and salt.
09.04.1967: His Eminence Bishop Ivan Praska blessed the convent.