Home Diocesan News Buying a hamburger on pilgrimage began vocational journey for sister-sisters
Buying a hamburger on pilgrimage began vocational journey for sister-sisters Print E-mail
Written by Marly Kosinski, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 20 October 2017 13:05

The purchase of a hamburger by one of the Sevachko daughters more than 70 years ago led to a vocational journey for her and two of her sisters.

Basilian Sister Leocadia Sevachko, 90, said she was 19 the first time she spoke to a woman religious, while on the Sisters of St. Basil the Great’s annual pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Mount Saint Macrina in Uniontown, Pa.

“I bought a hamburger from her at the pilgrimage and she asked me if I wanted to be a nun. I told her I had considered it and she took me right up to her mother superior,” Sister Leocadia said. The pilgrimage was at the motherhouse of her order.

In August, she celebrated her 72nd jubilee in religious life.

Sister Leocadia said she had considered entering the congregation of the Humility of Mary Sisters in Villa Maria, Pa., but after attending the pilgrimage, she decided to join the Sisters of St. Basil (a Byzantine order) instead.

“Even though that was my first personal contact with a nun, I was influenced growing up by my faith-filled family that always put God and Church first,” Sister Leocadia said. She had been a cashier and also worked at a beauty shop before joining religious life.

Sister Leocadia said she thought God was calling her, even in high school. She was a teacher for 57 years, including 19 at Byzantine Central Catholic School, on Youngstown-Poland Road in Youngstown, before it closed in 2009.

“I felt called to be a sister, not a teacher, but education was our order’s focus,” Sister Leocadia said.

She said she knows she made the right decision when she gets a call from or runs into a former student who says she touched their life spiritually.

Her sister, Basilian Sister Bernarda Sevachko, 87, entered the Mount Saint Macrina convent on July 4, right after she graduated from high school. She celebrated her 70th jubilee in August. A third sister, Dorothy, also was in the Order of the Sisters of St. Basil and she also would have celebrated her 70th jubilee this year, but she died in April 2013.

Sister Bernarda said she was “outgoing” as a teen and was always in the middle of whatever was going on, and that she probably surprised her classmates by entering the convent.

She said she never talked about becoming a religious until she told her parents in high school, but she had considered it before that.

“It was a private thing and I didn’t want to discuss it with everyone. My sisters joined, but I never felt pressured to follow them. I just felt I was being called,” she said.

She said she didn’t want to enter the same community as her sisters, but circumstances led her there and she said she has no regrets.

Sister Bernarda said her service as a teacher brought her great joy, which is why she continues in that role today.

“I feel so favored that God called me to be his mouthpiece and do his work,” Sister Bernarda added. “I am grateful the Lord called me to be his instrument. That’s my greatest joy.”

Sister Bernarda received her bachelor’s in education from Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa., and her master’s in education and a religious education certificate from St. John’s College in Cleveland.

She served as a full-time teacher for 50 years across six states and 11 years part-time at the primary, intermediate and junior high levels.

She taught at Byzantine Central Catholic from 1974 to 1978, but often returned for various other duties.

Sister Leocadia received her bachelor’s in education from Carlow University, Pittsburgh, and her master’s in education from LaSalle University, Philadelphia. She also spent two summers at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.

She served 57 years full-time in 14 schools from Ohio to Connecticut. She taught grades 5-8, including 30 years with eighth-graders and 10 years as a principal.

The sisters now serve St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church on Belle Vista Avenue in Youngstown.

Sister Bernarda has been offering prayer and assistance to seniors and the infirm for 37 years, traveling to their homes and care facilities.

She also has been a coordinator for religious education for 25 years. She teaches youth and adult classes once a week between September and June.

Sister Leocadia assists Sister Bernarda with visiting shut-ins and religious education classes at the five local Byzantine parishes – St. Mary, St. Nicholas, and St. Michael the Archangel, in Campbell; Infant Jesus of Prague, Boardman; and St. George on Canfield Road, Youngstown.

The Sevachko sisters were baptized at St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church on Wilson Avenue here. They grew up in Campbell.

RFR collection dates

The Retirement Fund for Religious collection will take place Nov. 25 and 26 at all weekend Masses in parishes across the diocese.

An appeal will be made by individual religious during Masses the weekend of Nov. 18 and 19.

Sisters Leocadia and Bernarda Sevachko, of the Sisters of St. Basil the Geat,  are co-chairs of the 2017 Retirement Fund for Religious. The other co-chair, Jesuit Father Tom Acker, will be profiled in the Nov. 3 issue of the Exponent.


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