Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate (SSMI)

SSMI is an international congregation of Sisters of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, founded over a hundred years ago in Western Ukraine. They strive to follow the example of their patroness Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God and are committed to a communal life of prayer and service to God's people, primarily but not exclusively, those of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate are women who have responded to Christ's call to dedicate their entire beings and lives to God. Through a life of prayer and active service, they are dedicated to share their experience of God's compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love. They live in community, encouraging and supporting one another in their apostolic life journey. Daily they unite in prayer in response to the requests of many, trusting in the Lord’s words: "Ask, and it shall be given to you."

History of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate

The Eastern Rite Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate of Papal Right was founded in 1892 in Zhuzhyl, a thriving village in Western Ukraine. As a reflection of Christ’s special love for the poor and the suffering, the purpose of the Congregation was to serve the human and spiritual needs of their people.

This was a time of many social injustices and in a few short years the services of the Sisters rapidly expanded. The Sisters became involved in parish work. Care for the beauty of churches was one of their special concerns. They established simple, much needed institutions to provide for education, child-care, nursing, missionary work, and pastoral care.

In 1902, out of concern for the plight of Ukrainians searching for survival in other lands, the young congregation, headed by its co-foundress, Sister Josaphata Hordashevska, sent four Sisters to Canada. The Sisters came to Edmonton first, but in a year’s time, transferred to Mundare, Alberta. The first Canadian headquarters and Novitiate of the Sisters Servants was located there. Under arduous conditions, they would carry on their work serving the Ukrainian immigrants suffering the many hardships of pioneer life.

The Congregation Today

Although social and economic structures may alter, basic human values never change. And so, the need for the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate continues.

In Canada today, with
headquarters in Toronto, the Sisters are involved across the country in parishes, schools, nursing homes, pastoral care, catechetic, renewal and retreat ministry. Internationally, the Congregation is found in fifteen countries on five continents with its Generalate in Rome. Wherever they are, whatever their capacity is, the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate serve under the Providence of God to be available to people in all their needs.

Health Care in Canada

The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate have made a valuable contribution in the field of health care. Ever since their arrival in 1902, they have ministered to the needs of the sick, the elderly, and infirm. In the early days working as best they could with less than adequate resources, but not without aspirations.

One of the first four missionaries was a graduate nurse, Sister Ambrose Lenkewich, who became the Congregation’s highest superior in Canada. In 1925, Sister Ambrose laid the cornerstone of professional nursing for the Congregation by enrolling two Sisters in a three year course at the Grey Nuns’ Hospital in St. Boniface in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1929, the Sisters opened their first health care facility, the Mundare General Hospital.

Today, the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate own and operate two nursing facilities in Manitoba, St. Paul’s Home in Dauphin and Holy Family Home in Winnipeg.