July 22, 2013
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Through a life of prayer and active service, the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate are dedicated to sharing their experience of God's compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love.

They are a congregation of Byzantine Catholic sisters that have been serving in Ukrainian communities across Canada for the past century. They arrived in Alberta in 1902.

Never bound by a single ministry, the sisters have always taken a flexible view, remaining faithful to their charism of serving where the need is the greatest.

The Sisters Servants believe their ministries need to continue vibrantly for years to come, and that is why they recently announced the creation of the Lubov SSMI Foundation Inc.

SISTERS' MINISTRIES

Based in Winnipeg, the foundation has been established to provide financial support for the needs of the ministries led by the sisters. It became a recognized charity in December 2012.

"The SSMI provincial council and all of our sisters across Canada are excited to have established the Lubov SSMI Foundation which means to love," said Sister Patricia Lacey, provincial superior of the Sisters Servants.

Lesia Sianchuk, CEO of the Lubov SSMI Foundation, told the WCR, "The foundation is built on the motto of the sisters, To Serve is to Love.

"It's not just grabbing the money, saying 'thank you' and running with it. It's about building relationships with the people who want to support the work of the sisters."

Through the foundation, the sisters will help educate the young, provide spiritual comfort to those in need, nurture the lonely, care for the sick and provide comfort to the elderly.

The foundation will provide substantial support to two ministries in Winnipeg, including the 105-year-old Immaculate Heart of Mary School, founded and still run by the sisters, said Sianchuk.

Lubov SSMI Foundation wants to ensure that the school, which serves students from nursery school through Grade 8, can continue to provide the best education possible for many generations to come.

The foundation raised funds to build a new school. Two years ago it launched Move the Spirit, a $15-million capital campaign that will see the construction of a new school on a 6.8-acre site.

While providing some operating funds for Catholic schools, the Manitoba government does not provide capital funding, Sianchuk said.

HOME FOR ELDERLY

The other major Winnipeg ministry supported by the foundation is Holy Family Home, a 276-bed residence for the elderly. The facility opened in 1953.

Holy Family Home undertook a multi-year project to provide new furnishing for the resident rooms. Recently it reached its financial goal to complete this project.

The sisters are also active in parish ministry. They teach catechism, and provide spiritual renewal and enrichment to individuals and groups.

They add to the liturgical arts through the sewing of vestments, adorn church altars with altar cloths, lead liturgical services, teach piano and singing, and provide comfortable places for the laity to spend time in retreat.

Sianchuk said that a committee will eventually be established, so that its members can determine where the needs are the greatest and what projects to support financially, such as the nursing home for the sisters in Mundare, Alta.