Josaphata Hordashevska

Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska, S.S.M.I.
Йосафата (Гордашевська).jpg
Religious Sister, Foundress
Born(1869-11-20)20 November 1869
Lviv, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died7 April 1919(1919-04-07) (aged 49)
Lviv, Second Polish Republic
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Ruthenian Catholic Church
Beatified27 June 2001, Lviv, Ukraine by John Paul II
Major shrineGeneral Motherhouse of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, Rome, Italy
Feast20 November

Josaphata Hordashevska, born Michaelina Hordashevska (20 November 1869, in Lviv – 7 April 1919, in Lviv) a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Religious Sister, was the first member of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.

Biography[edit]

In 1869, Michaelina Hordashevska was born in Lviv, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now Ukraine, into a family who were members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. At the age of 18, she considered consecrating her life to God in a contemplative monastery of the Basilian nuns, then the only Eastern-rite women's religious congregation. She attended a spiritual retreat which was preached by a Basilian monk, Father Jeremiah Lomnytsky, whose spiritual guidance she sought. With his permission, Hordashevska took a private vow of chastity for one year. She was to renew this vow twice.

At that time, Lomnytsky, seeing that there was a need of active Religious Sisters to meet the social needs of the poor and needy faithful of the church, had decided to establish a women's congregation which would follow an active life of service. He did so in conjunction with Father Cyril Sielecki, pastor of the village of Zhuzhelyany. Lomnytsky felt that Hordashevska would be an appropriate candidate to found such a congregation. Thus she was asked to be the foundress of such a group, rather than follow the monastic life she had been considering. When she agreed, she was sent in June 1892 to the Polish Roman Catholic Felician Sisters to experience the life of community which followed an active consecrated life.

Hordashevska returned to Lviv two months later and, on 24 August, took the religious habit of the new Congregation and received the name Josaphata, in honor of the Ukrainian Catholic martyr, Josaphat Kuntsevych. She then went to Zhuzhelyany, and became the first Superior of the seven young women who had been recruited for the new institute, training them in the spirit and charism of the Sisters Servants: "Serve your people where the need is greatest".

For the rest of her life, Hordashevska led the new Congregation, through its growth and development. She oversaw the development of the various new ministries the Sisters entered. For this, she had to steer a new path for the Sisters in the Eastern Church, sometimes being caught between the conflicting visions of the two founders.

By 1902 the Congregation numbered 128 Sisters, in 26 convents across the country. They were able to hold their first General Chapter in August of that year, at which Hordashevska was elected the first Superior General of the Congregation and Lomnytsky resigned from that office. Soon, however, internal divisions led Hordashevska to tender her resignation to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv, Andrey Sheptytsky. Under the new Superior General appointed by the Metropolitan Archbishop, Hordashevska and her natural sister, Sister Arsenia Hordashevska, were denied permission to take permanent vows, and Hordashevska was assigned to one of the most difficult missions of the Congregation.

Due to her canonical status of still being in temporary vows, Hordashevska was ineligible to participate in the next General Chapter of the Congregation. Nonetheless, she was elected Vicaress General of the Congregation in absentia, with the delegates of the Chapter petitioning the Metropolitan that she be allowed to make her permanent vows. This request was granted, and Hordashevska did so the following day, 11 May 1909, and assumed the office to which she had been voted.

Three years later, Hordashevska was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone. In 1919, at the age of 49 and on the day she had predicted, she died amidst terrible suffering. Her mortal remains were exhumed in 1982 and taken to Rome, where they are kept in a reliquary in the General Motherhouse of the Sisters Servants in Rome. The process of her beatification started in Rome in 1983 and on 27 June 2001 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Lviv. Numerous miracles are ascribed due to her intercession after her death.

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