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Our Community News

A Gift of Quilting


In June of 2013, Mount Mary Retreat Centre was the recipient of a wonderful gift of quilts, for all the beds in the Villa and Cottage retreat houses - 23 single- and 3 double-sized beds in all.

This huge, creative undertaking was born of the huge heart of our SSMI Associate, Irene Sadovy, of Toronto, who, beginning this project at least two years prior, enlisted the help of three other SSMI Associates, Lillian Pokorchak, Roma Nazarewycz and Leda Ostafichuk, and one other special helper, Maria Suchyj, 87 years of age, Irene’s mother.

The following is a letter from Irene, which accompanied her gift:

“A joyful project indeed. This project inspired my creativity and filled my soul with happiness. I listened to the Lord’s directions and I sewed for Him. This was an inspiring journey for me. Throughout this endeavour mistakes were made, but not corrected as per His direction. I know now that even though I am one of His “Cracked Pots”, I still can contribute beauty to the Master’s table.

“Twenty-three single and one double quilt for the Villa plus two double and one single quilts for the cottage were sewn. These I would like to donate to Mount Mary.

“There are four special people I would like to mention. Three are Associates: Lillian Pokorchak, who always inspires me and always brought a smile to the Quilting Bee; Roma Nazarewycz, who helped finish the quilts; and Leda Ostafichuk, who also helped in our Quilting Bee. But mostly I would like to acknowledge my mother, Maria Suchyj, who even in ill health, was enthusiastic and enjoyed helping in the making of these quilts. She could not wait until I came to visit, so she could help me piece the blocks. The happiness on her face confirmed that this project will not only help others, but also helped an 87 year old woman who needed to know she is still needed and she can still help.

“God Bless,
Irene Sadovy, SSMI Associate”

~ And God bless you, Irene! ~

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Airlift Rescue at Mount Mary

On Wednesday, September 18, 2013, a young woman was airlifted to hospital, from the Mount Mary Retreat Centre grounds, having fallen 20 meters near the Ancaster Mill, about 2 km away. Retreatants and residents looked on at a distance, as ambulance personnel brought her from the site of the accident to the helicopter.

Parking on Mount Mary’s narrower roads, accessing our smaller retreat houses, is not permitted as a matter of course, precisely for the passage of emergency vehicles. Retreatants sometimes ask why parking is not allowed there, when some of our smaller buildings are not occupied. This is a good example of why clearance is needed at all times, since ambulance access was necessary for this rescue, even though it did not involve our guests, nor were the buildings in question occupied at the time.

(Sound from this video was muted, for the aural comfort of the viewers.)

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Official Blessing of New Registrar’s Office

On Thursday, September 5, 2013, the new office of the registrar of Mount Mary Retreat Centre was officially blessed by Rev. Ivan Trush, of Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic parish in Hamilton. The new office is located in the School building, directly to the left of the front doors. This new location is more central to the activity of the retreat centre, overall, and we trust will serve the interests of the retreat groups more readily than the previous location at the convent.

New contact information can be found in the footer of this website.

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“Blisters for Sisters”

On Friday, July 19, 2013, a storm hit southern Ontario, including Ancaster and Mount Mary, knocking down or cracking about 50 trees, not including the wooded area. Estimating about a month’s work to clear away all the damaged wood and loose debris, an idea was revived to invite local teens, who need to do volunteer community service as part of their high school curriculum, to offer some hours of service at Mount Mary. Announcements were made at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic parish after every Mass that weekend, to call for volunteer help. The project was called “Blisters for Sisters”, a term coined by one of the chaplains of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board Residential Retreat Experience team, some years ago.

A number of volunteers trickled in throughout the week, both from St. Ann’s and from our Ukrainian Catholic acquaintances, including our Knights of Columbus Shashkevych Council #7464. While our staff cut and removed felled trees, our volunteers raked debris and piled up the more manageable branches, for later disposal, so that our landscaping could continue safely. With all your help, our necessary clean-up time was greatly shortened. Though we still have much of the heavier, more perilous work to finish, this simpler but not less laborious work is mostly completed in the space of a week!

A big Thank you! to the following:
Knights of Columbus from:
Fr. M. Shashkevych Council #7464, Hamilton: Eugene Smook, Steve Dushko, Don Krochak
Brantford Council #1679, Brantford: John Smid, Dan Moore
Msgr. J. Francis Hinchey Council #6579, Dundas: Don Cousins
Fr. G. M. Warren Council #7969, Stoney Creek: John Stewart

St. Ann’s Youth: Franklin Price, Adam Price, Mitchell Price, Arden Baboth-Toth, Katie Nelson, Caroline Ferrie
St. Ann’s Parishioners: Claude Lizotte, Leonard Price

And the Ukrainian Connection (...really?? yes!)
“Team MacLeod”: David MacLeod, Helen MacLeod, Stephen MacLeod, James MacLeod, Rudy McEachern, David McEachern
and especially
“Team Barton”: Roy Barton, Jeffrey Barton

A big Thank you! also to Ernie Bablak and Olga Swan, for providing lunch for these volunteers for the first couple of days — this was much appreciated on such short notice!

A big Thank you! also to Frs. Ian Duffy and Adam Voisin (see Fr. Adam’s blog here) for their solidarity in announcing our need.

End of an Era

On July 15, 2013, Mount Mary saw the end of an era, with the demolition of our swimming pool. An outdoor swimming pool had been installed in the early 1970’s, when Mount Mary Academy was still open. It had been inoperable for a number of years. No doubt it held memories for many of our alumni, as well as the Sisters, who enjoyed it in the hot summers. And the Waterloo Catholic District School Board Residential Retreats will have to strike from their storybooks, forever, the legend of Sr. Mary Cannonball, Olympic Diver!

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Celebrating our faith anyway! - Vandalism won’t dampen our spirits

stolen_angel substitute_angel

On May 10, 2013, six weeks before our Pilgrimage, Mount Mary was visited by vandals in the night. The angel from the Monument to the Innocent Victims of Abortion, erected by the Knights of Columbus of the Fr. Markian Shashkevych Council #7464 and blessed on October 26, 2000, was removed from its base, exposing the reinforcing bar that held it. A small statue of the Mother of God, situated in our cemetery, was overturned. And the Resurrected Jesus, mounted on the back pillar at our cemetery altar site, had been damaged; one of the two bolts by which it was mounted had been ripped out of the back of the statue, and it was left dangling upside-down by the other, which it seems the vandals were unable to dislodge.

The Mother of God statue was otherwise unharmed, and was put back in place. The angel cannot be recovered, without its return by the perpetrators. Until such a time, it was replaced by a smaller “garden variety” angel. But the Resurrected Jesus was sent for repair, and was returned to us for remounting the day before our Pilgrimage of the Year of Faith. It could not have been more appropriately timed.

“Heavenly Father, Creator of Life, You give life to children. Protect them in the wombs of their mothers, so that they will be safely delivered, to see the faces of their parents and the beauty of your Creation.” ~ Prayer for the Unborn
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Restoration of St. Maria Goretti Statue

On March 6, 2012, Kelly Stephen, chaplain at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School in Kitchener, Ontario, picked up our statue of St. Maria Goretti, having obtained permission of the Sisters at Mount Mary for the students of that school to repair it, on the students’ request. The statue was in bad need of repair.

On June 26, 2012, he returned it, with the one student, Ioanna Malton, who actually took the project on, by herself. We asked her if she could write a few words about the project for our website. In August, she gave us a very comprehensive report, with photos, and we've transformed it into the video clip below. Do watch, and enjoy this fascinating process!

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at Mount Mary
for Sisters
and Georgina


(Photos courtesy of Mr. Bohdan Matvijiw, Knight of Columbus Shashkevych Council #7464, and Fr. Michael Loza, pastor, St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, Oakville.)

On August 9, 2012, SSMI Associates, members of the Ukrainian Catholic Women's League, Knights of Columbus, Mount Mary Volunteers, retreat directors of various groups hosted by Mount Mary, and friends and neighbours, with the help of the home SSMI, gathered for a surprise farewell party for Srs. Angelica Hodowansky and Georgina Yakimishyn, who are both being transferred this year.

Over 70 guests waited for the Sisters in one of the facility’s dining rooms, until they arrived. They greeted them with the singing of Mnohaja Lita, and Sr. Janet Kozak, local superior, opened with prayer, inviting Fr. Anton Szymychalski to bless the food.

Along with the refreshments, prepared by the Mount Mary staff and Mrs. Deanne Day, alumna of Mount Mary Academy and friend of the Sisters, was a lovely celebratory cake made by Deanne’s husband, Dr. Colin Day. Deanne and members of her family also looked after the decor for the party, and provided lovely centerpieces of live flowers for each of the tables.

Guests offered personal well-wishes with each of them, and later, they were invited to share memories of their acquaintances with our honoured guests, in an open forum. Special greetings were given by Mrs. Nadia Dusanowsky, member of the Executive of the Eparchial Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League, Mr. Eugene Smook, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Shashkevych Council #7464, on behalf of the K of C, and Orysia Jaworski, of the Break for Jesus Eparchial Spring Break Camp. Words of thanks were offered by both Sr. Angelica and Sr. Georgina, who both expressed their shock as well as their gratitude for the gathering. Sr. Janet closed the evening with a prayer by Thomas Merton, and then the visiting continued informally a while longer.

Sr. Angelica, retreat co-ordinator at Mount Mary for the last twelve years, is missioned to New Westminster, BC, where she will carry on the Sisters’ missions there. Sr. Georgina, also a long-time Mount Mary Sister, who particularly animated prayer services of Ukrainian Catholic groups over the years, will be transferred to Bethany Home in Winnipeg.

Our hearts will journey with you, dear Sisters!

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Rededication of St. Joseph Statue at Mount Mary Retreat Centre

On September 26, 2011, Mr. Michael Kuzyk and Mr. Patrick Kuzyk, came to Mount Mary Retreat Centre in Ancaster for the renewing of a commemorative plaque on the statue of St. Joseph which greets all guests to the office of Mount Mary and the home of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate who live here.

The monument was a gift of their parents, Bill and Mary Kuzyk, of Manitoba, who had the statue mounted here in 1958, in gratitude “for favours received.”

As their marriage began, they struggled to start a family; Mary had suffered two miscarriages. About this same time, Mary’s sister, Mildred entered the novitiate at Mount Mary. She was well aware of the young couple’s desire to have children. One day, the superior, Sr. Julianna, asked the novices to share an intention that they could all pray for. Mildred, now Sr. Daria, asked them to pray for this intention. After this, Sr. Julianna called Sr. Daria to her office and told her that this intention was very important to her, and that they would pray a novena to St. Joseph for them. Shortly after this, in 1954, they had a son, Michael, then in 1958 another son, Patrick, and in 1959, a daughter, Marian.

Bill and Mary wanted to show their appreciation to the Sisters for their prayers, and asked if they could make a contribution to their community. Sr. Julianna said she always wanted a statue of St. Joseph holding baby Jesus, in front of their residence. She held St. Joseph responsible for the protection and the flourishing of Mount Mary. So in 1958, Bill and Mary bought the statue which stands in front of the gates of the Sisters’ residence.

Fifty three years later, in May, 2011, Michael and his wife, Sharon, visited Ancaster for the first time, to see the statue his parents had provided, and since the plaque had been weathered, promised to have a new one made, to replace it.

A special blessing of the statue was celebrated by Fr. Andrii Lopatniuk, of Hamilton, with Michael and Patrick present, along with the Sisters currently living at Mount Mary. (See the YouTube clip and photos, below.)

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