Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 1, 2009
No one could talk Anna out of being a nun
Love of God led her to enter Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate
Sr. Bonaventure Kalawsky
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON – They tried to dissuade Anna Kawalsky from becoming a nun by filling her mind with doubts.
“People in the area didn’t understand how anybody would want to go to the convent.
“They said you don’t see any young sisters because they put them all in some kind of poison and they die,” she said, unfazed by their scare tactics.
“I thought, well, if those young sisters can bear death and die for the love of God, why can’t I?”
That was a long time ago and young Anna didn’t take their advice.
Now, Sister Bonaventure Kalawsky is back in Alberta to celebrate 75 years of religious life with friends and family.
She was born in 1918 in Round Hill, the 12th of 13 children. As a child, she enjoyed the company of the nuns from Mundare who stayed with her family during the summer.
“They would say their prayers at church, and after they prayed they always sang songs to the Blessed Mother. I thought that was so wonderful.
“One time when they were singing I told my brothers that someday I’m going to sing like that. They laughed at me,” said Kalawsky, determined to prove her brothers wrong.
On Nov. 11, 1934, her parents took her to Mundare in her best Sunday dress. They took her to the convent where she joined the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate the next day. She has been with them ever since.
The foundress of the congregation in 1892 was Josaphata Hordashevska, a Ukrainian Catholic nun. In 2001 Pope John Paul II beatified her. Numerous miracles are ascribed due to her intercession after her death.
Kalawsky credits Hordashevska for healing her after she fell ill in Germany. She recalled walking around like a skeleton because she had lost so much weight.
“Even the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was losing weight and I couldn’t keep food in me. They did all kinds of tests, and after two weeks they couldn’t find anything wrong,” she said.
Nor could the German doctors determine how to treat her mysterious condition.
The other nuns “stormed heaven” and prayed to Hordashevska. Kalawsky credits the foundress for answering their prayers and miraculously healing her.
Kalawsky has mostly been living in the United States since 1934, currently in New York. She has kept ties with rural Alberta, however, since she has numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews still living here.
“Sister Bonaventure is a shining example of a true Christian to all of us, with her own ever-ready smile and her extra big heart,” said her niece, Josephine Ilnicki.
“We look forward to her annual visits, her holidays, which we are privileged to share with her. She is affectionately known to us as Sister Bonnie and we love her very much.”
Ilnicki described her aunt as a dedicated pious religious sister, and a jolly person who always sees the good things in life.
Over the years, Kalawsky has served on missions, mostly in the Eastern United States, including Detroit; Philadelphia; St. Clare, Penn.; Wilkes-Barre; Rochester, N.Y.; and Syracuse, N.Y. She lived in Germany from 1979 to 1984. Twice she went to the Holy Land, in 1962 and 2000.
NO LIFE LIKE IT
“There is no life in this whole world that beats being a Sister Servant of Mary Immaculate,” she told the WCR. “I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and I’ve met so many wonderful people, bishops and cardinals, priests and sisters of all kinds, there’s nothing that could compare to what I feel my life has been.”