Sr. Frances Byblow

Obituary of Sr. Frances E. Byblow

Sister Frances Eudoxia Byblow SSMI
   1924 – 2022



Sister Frances Eudoxia Byblow died on January 7, 2022, at Bethany Home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was 97 years old with 79 years in religious life.

          Eudoxia was born, May 9, 1924 in Springside, Saskatchewan, (near Yorkton). Her parents, John Byblow and Pauline (Shumay) emigrated from Ukraine. Of their twelve children, three died in infancy. Among the surviving children, three entered the religious life. Eudoxia’s sister Mary (Sister Mechtilde), entered the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in 1931, and her brother Demetrius, entered the Ukrainian-rite Redemptorist Fathers in 1940.

          Eudoxia knew the Sisters, as they came to teach summer catechism. Her family would often host them, and so she got to know them as friends.

          Eudoxia received her elementary education in her hometown, and her high school education in Yorkton SK at Sacred Heart Academy, which was run by the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.  After graduation in 1941, she decided to work for a year, and then apply to teachers’ college, intending to enter after her studies. When her work year ended, she filled an application for teachers’ college, and gave it to her brother to mail. Two weeks later, past the deadline, he found it still in his pocket. He forgot to mail it! She entered shortly after, travelling to Mundare, AB  in July 1942. She professed her vows in 1945.

           She took teacher training in Edmonton, AB then, taught in Catholic elementary schools in Edmonton and Ottawa, before beginning studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Outside of school hours, she did parish work: teaching catechetics and Ukrainian classes in Saturday schools, leading Children of Mary and Sodality groups, tending to church cleanliness and beauty and visiting the sick.

          Sister Frances received her BA at USask in 1956, majoring in English literature and Slavistics. She then taught at Sacred Heart Academy in Yorkton. She was also appointed as local superior in Saskatoon, and then in Yorkton. In 1960, she became Directress of Novices in Ancaster, ON. In 1964 she studied theology and scripture in Rome, at Regina Mundi.

          In 1965, she was elected Provincial Superior for Canada, and held this position until 1971. She led the Congregation through significant changes: making 30-day Ignation retreats, upgrading professional training and initiating new ministries. During her term of office, Sisters began to teach at the University level.

          She engaged all the Sisters to reflect on the Constitution of the SSMI, contributing greatly to its revision at the General Chapter in 1968. She also called for an experimental redesigning of the traditional habit to a modified habit.

          During Sr. Frances’ Provincial term, the 75th Jubilee of the founding of the Congregation took place. She saw to the organizing of a memorable gala concert for this occasion, involving Sisters, clergy and laity. She assured that our Canadian history would be recorded, commissioning Sister Claudia Popowich to write a book, To Serve is to Love.

          She also oversaw several building projects: a second major addition at Sacred Heart High School in Yorkton, a new addition at Holy Family Home in Winnipeg MB, and the construction of a new 70-bed facility -St. Paul’s Senior Home in Dauphin MB. At Holy Family Home, Mr. Jack Kisil was hired as the first lay administrator in a Sisters’ institution. SSMI homes opened in Ottawa, Hamilton, Edmonton, Regina and Calgary. St. Joseph’s Home in Mundare was renovated for senior Sisters. In Ancaster, a caretaker’s home was built.

          Following her term as Provincial, Sister Frances continued on Provincial Council as Secretary. For two years she was a Byzantine consultant for the CCCB National Office for Religious Education, contributing to the Roman Catholic catechism program. She again taught at Sacred Heart Academy in Yorkton and was guidance counsellor; later, she taught at Mount Mary Immaculate Academy in Ancaster, where she was also principal.

          In 1974, Sister Frances was elected to General Council, and appointed General Bursar. She often travelled as a companion on General Visitation, and became familiar with the situation of the Ukrainian people wherever the Sisters Servants were missioned, including behind the Iron Curtain.

          In 1980, she was elected Superior General, a post she held for thirteen years. As well as conducting a clandestine Visitation, Sister Frances also saw the liberation of religious freedom in Ukraine. With the blessing of His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan Lubachivskyj, she initiated a Ukrainian program of catechetics and send SSMI from Canada and Brazil.

Together with Polish Doctor Jan Kuczma, Sr. Frances travelled from Ukraine to Rome with the newly exhumed remains of SSMI Foundress Josaphata Hordashevska.  Blessed Josaphata was beatified in 2001 by Saint Pope John Paul II.

          After two terms as Superior General, Sister Frances returned to Toronto. She continued to assist many in Ukraine. She was Provincial Archivist, and distributor of SSMI publications. She was local superior in Toronto, gave many keynote addresses on Blessed Josaphata, and did translation work.

          In an assignment titled The Administrator, which Sister Frances had written for her degree, she described the interpersonal skills needed to motivate people under one’s leadership. She demonstrated these skills in her own life. She was people-focused. She welcomed children. She encouraged the young, with their various gifts, in her family and in her Congregation.

          Sister Frances loved her family deeply, treasuring their visits.  She was pleased to share her family with her SSMI Sisters. A highlight of her life was her visit to Lycivka, Ukraine in 1995. There she met members of both her parents’ families, and spoke movingly in the church where her parents grew up.

          With declining health, she retired at SSMI Bethany Home in Winnipeg. God called her home to Him after a return of cancer, having been in remission for close to 50 years.

          Sister Frances was predeceased by her parents, infant siblings Anthony, Anastasia and Magdalene, brothers Michael (and wife Sophie), Basil, Father Demetrius CSsR, and Nicholas; and sisters Mary (Sr. Mechtilde), Anne, Olga (and Metro) Maykut and Theresa (and Basil) Herrick. She will be missed by sister-in-law Bernice (Nicholas), numerous nieces and nephews and their families, and her sisters of the Congregation of Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, in Canada and world-wide.

A special thank you to her caregivers at Bethany Home. A private service has been held. May the memory of Sister Frances be eternal--Вічна її пам’ять! Charitable donations may be made in her memory to SSMI Lubov Foundation: Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Holy Family Home or Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Sr. Frances
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