Sister Lydia Anna Sawka, Vicar General, visited our Sisters in Brazil and Argentina during the months of March and April 2017, as requested to assist with Canonical Visitations by Mother Dia Stasiuk, General Superior. In Brazil the Sisters of the Delegature of St. Macrina have their main monastery and novitiate in Curitiba. They have two other homes, one in Canoinhas and the other in Reserva. Although there are only 10 Sisters in the Delegature, they have a variety of ministries and some work in service-related jobs to provide for the financial needs of the Sisters.
The Delegature Superior, Sister Maria Demetrio, and Sister Ariana met and welcomed Sister Lydia Anna at the Curitiba airport. After a brief respite, on the following morning Sister Lydia Anna traveled to Reserva, the first stop of the Canonical Visitation, where three Sisters reside and serve the parish. The three Sisters attend and respond to the services in the local Ukrainian parish and teach catechism to the parishioners. On weekends, they travel to various colonies with the pastor, where they assist in services, catechize the children and youth, prepare them for the reception of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and participate in any religious activities organized for the people in those remote areas. Many of our faithful live out in the colonies and look forward to seeing our Sisters who are able to help them grow in their faith and provide comfort and direction in difficult times.
Mother Dia Stasiuk arrived in a couple of days as the Visitation continued at the main monastery in Curitiba, which may appear quieter than the other homes, but it is abuzz with quiet activity. The Sisters live simply, meeting many of their daily needs by growing their own produce and baking their bread and rolls. Since this is the novitiate of the Delegature, there are special classes for the novice, which the Sisters provide. As part of her formation, the novice assists in some of the Sisters’ ministries. The three Sisters ministering here take care of two local parish Churches, where they minister as sacristans and provide responses for a variety of services. They catechize in their local parish, as well as, one distant parish preparing the children for the Mystery of Reconciliation so that they may worthily receive Holy Communion and then for continued growth in their faith. One of the most important ministries that the Sisters in the monastery in Curitiba provide is the preparation of hundreds of hosts for Holy Communion. The Sisters devotedly bake and prepare hosts for all of the Ukrainian parishes in the region. This activity is especially demanding during the celebration of major Holy Feasts or when there are special activities, such as pilgrimages or parish Feast days. Throughout the week, numerous clergy or parishioners stop by to collect the prepared hosts. The Sisters’ hospitality is reflected by the frequent visits of the faithful, various clergy and even hierarches, such as was evidenced by the visit of Most Reverend Meron Mazur, Bishop of the Eparchy of Prudentopolis, who was traveling through the area and stopped by for coffee, leaving fish for the Sisters’ dinner.
While in Curitiba Mother Dia and Sister Lydia Anna visited the Cathedral and Chancery for a meeting with Most Reverend Volodemer Koubetch, Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Brazil and Archbishop of Curitiba. It was a perfect opportunity to share thoughts and ideas about ministries and current needs in the life of the Church.
The Visitation continued in Canoinhas where four Sisters currently reside and run a day-care center and pre-school. Their weekdays are full of activities as they teach, feed, and care for the children entrusted to their care. The enrollment continues to grow in response to the loving care and faith-based values that the Sisters instill through their presence and education. One can hear the incessant chatter and joyful laughter of the little ones throughout the day. There is constant activity in every corner, except when some children are taking their naps. On weekends, the Sisters and the pastor hold catechism classes for many children. The Sisters also provide responses during various services in the parish church. Although each Sisters’ work is very demanding and physically exhausting, one can truly feel the sense of community, as each one helps the other and even extend financial help to their Sisters in other homes.
Between visiting individual Sisters and reviewing various books of the Delegature, Sister Lydia Anna took time to present the work of the Governance Commission, at their request. This Commission and their tasks were a mandate from the X General Chapter. The Sisters were given time to think about the findings of the group and then share their thoughts and opinions, which were forwarded later to the Governance Commission for consideration and continued development.
Traveling for Canonical Visitation with the Sisters in Argentina, Mother Dia and Sister Lydia Anna had an opportunity to see the Iguazu Falls from the Brazil side. It is a natural wonder of the world reflecting the grandeur of God’s creation.