Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 17, 2007
Ukrainian sisters were her heroes
So Sr. Esther gave her life to the Lord
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"It's been a happy, life-giving journey."
- Sr. Esther Kurylo
And she does a lot. In addition to being the spiritual advisor of the Catholic Women's League at St. Basil's Parish, Kurylo is spiritual leader of the Sodality girls, director of the lay associates of her congregation and a member of the ecumenical commission for the Edmonton Eparchy. She also leaves time to visit the sick and the elderly.
Born the oldest of six children at Waskateneau, Kurylo began her schooling at Northern Moose School, a country school north of Waskateneau. When her parents Eva and Harry moved to the farming community at Delph, Kurylo attended Sheptytsky School, northeast of Lamont.
She met the Sisters Servants as a child and enjoyed being around them. "I wanted to be like those sisters who were doing so much good."
Kurylo completed her high school at Sacred Heart Academy in Yorkton, Sask., a boarding school run by the Sisters Servants. "There I got even closer to the sisters because they were teaching us not only high school but also how to be good Christian women."
Kurylo joined the congregation immediately following high school graduation. She made her first vows in 1950 and then continued with normal school training in Saskatoon, where she received her teaching certificate. Kurylo later enrolled in correspondence and attended summer courses at the University of Alberta, where she obtained her bachelor of education degree in 1970.
Most of her 26 teaching years were spent in Yorkton, Regina, Kitchener, Ont., Prince Albert and Vegreville. In Yorkton she was the religious consultant for the separate school system. Kurylo loved teaching so much she often spent her summer holidays teaching catechism at parishes and camps.
In the 1970s when scores of religious were abandoning religious life, Kurylo considered leaving too. She stayed after a 30-day retreat where she realized her call to religious life was truly a call from God. She also found affirmation and strength in the charismatic movement.
In the early 1980s, Bishop Jerome Chimy of New Westminster, B.C., commissioned Kurylo to do work in religious education in his eparchy and appointed her director of religious education.
In this capacity she set up a religious education centre and trained lay catechists. She later moved to Edmonton and set up the religious education centre and trained lay catechists in the Edmonton Eparchy.
In 1992 Kurylo fulfilled her dream to do missionary work overseas when she spent a summer in England and three months in Ukraine teaching adults and young people.
Next to her love of teaching is her love for pastoral care.
"Sister (Esther) takes time to visit people who are sick and lonely in hospitals, nursing homes and their own personal homes," said her sister-in-law Pat Kurylo in a write up she prepared for the 60th anniversary. "She is always most welcomed with her bubbly personality, kind heart, big hugs and thoughtful prayers."
Sister Valerie Krochenski of Mundare described Kurylo as a dedicated and caring teacher, catechist and leader.
"As a teacher she was always excellent, treating her students with patience and love," she recalled. "She is definitely a people person; she has many friends because she is an optimistic person."
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