June 10, 2019 was a distinct day for the entire community of Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great, because on that date, through the grace of God, Sister Olha (Mariia) Ladzhun celebrated her 100th day of life – becoming the oldest Sister of our Order. Sisters from all corners of our Province traveled to the city of Khust, prayerfully thanking the Lord for bestowing the gifts of life and vocation to Sister Olha. All greeted Sister Olha, congratulating her on this special occasion and thanking her for her faithful and self-sacrificing service for Our Lord and His people throughout her 84 years of monastic life.
Sister Olha (Mariia) was born on June 10, 1919 to a village family in Ruskij Kamarivchi in the Uzhorod region of Zakarpathia. Mariia’s father died during World War I, leaving her mother to raise two small daughters: Mariia and Elizabeth. In 1924, her mother found it necessary to send five-year old Mariia to the orphanage of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great located in the city of Uzhorod. Thus, already from childhood, Mariia grew up observing and learning about the monastic style of life.
In 1936, Mariia entered the novitiate of the community of Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great in the city of Uzhorod. That year she donned monastic garb and received a new monastic name – Sister Olha. In 1938, she professed Temporary Vows to our Lord and began studies at the Teachers’ Institute in Uzhorod, where she received a diploma for teaching elementary classes. She became a teacher in the city of Velykyj Bychkovi. Her superiors, seeing that Sister Olha was gifted in studies, sent her to Syhetsky University in 1941 for studies in biology.
Despite the sounds of war all around, on August 28, 1944 Sister Olha made her profession of Perpetual Vows to our Lord in the Uzhorod monastery. In 1945, after the monastery in Uzhorod was forced to close, Sister Olha along with many other Sisters needed to look for work and a place to live, since any monastic ministry and activity was strictly forbidden by the government.
From 1946 to 1949. Sister Olha worked as an accountant in various places. Starting in 1950, she taught biology in the elementary schools in the Serednje Uzhorod region for the next 20 years.
It was not easy to live a monastic life in a period of persecution, since the secret police (NKVD) continually watched for any forbidden activity. Nevertheless, with God’s help, Sister Olha remained faithful to her faith and her promises given to God as His handmaid. She surrounded all those who needed God’s help and mercy with her fervent prayers, which she continues to do today.
We thank You, Lord, for the gifts of life, vocation and zealous service of Sister Olha Ladzhun. May everything be done for your glory!