This year’s Basilian mission trip to Ukraine consisted of the most volunteers ever. Fourteen vol-unteers joined the Sisters of St. Basil the Great Basilian Volunteer Program to teach English to children and visit the needy in Ukraine. The volunteers who joined Sr. Ann Laszok, OSBM and Sr. Joann Sosler, OSBM hailed from five different states and three different Eparchies: Michael Haritan, Stephanie Manasterski from PA, Yurij Shevchuk, Olya and Jerry Tchir, John and Daria Catrobon, Helen Fedoriv, Zenovia and Anastasia Van Sise from NJ, Sophie and Ivanna Kulty-tsky from NC, Patricia Mackiw from IL, and Dennis Drost from OR.
The mission trip consisted of three English Catechetical camps in Drohobych, Ivano-Frankivsk and Mukachevo as well as visiting seven different orphanages, psychiatric institutions, a halfway house, homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers. The camp in Drohobych coincided with the Eparchy’s 25th Anniversary so the Basilian missionaries had the opportunity to attend a Pontifi-cal Liturgy celebrated by Patriarch Sviatoslav.
The Drohobych camp was held at a newly built eparchial retreat center run by Pani Zoryanna Dubravski. While in the Drohobych, Bukovo Psychiatric Institution, a rehabilitation center and a homeless shelter was visited by the volunteers to interact and distribute the gifts brought for the children and needy.
Our schedule included arrival in Ukraine on May 26, 2018. The next day we attended Divine Liturgy on Pentecost followed by a visit to Bukovo Psychiatric Institution. Our visit coincided with the 25th Anniversary celebration of Drohobych Eparchy with Patriarch Sviatoslav presiding, who at the Banquet took time to pose for a picture with our volunteers. On May 29 to June 3 we taught English at the camp for 70 children. While in the area we visited a Rehabilitation cen-ter and a Community style Homeless Shelter.
Michael Haritan, our professional photographer volunteer, left us for Kyiv after the first week. His dream of filming the “Babas” of Chernobyl and the wounded soldiers of Ukraine finally ma-terialized with Sr Dia, OSBM and Fr Yurij Lohoza as translator and guide.
From June 4 to June 8, in Ivano-Frankivsk, we held an English day camp. Since the classes all finished by 1 pm, we visited to the Buchach House of Mercy, St Nicholas Village, a halfway house, the Pohon Psychiatric Institution and made a call to Fr Mirchuk in Odessa. Sr Jeremi-ah Steblyna, OSBM, Principal of Middle School was our local coordinator.
On our one day off we took a sightseeing tour to Yaremche, a waterfall and Bukovel.
June 10 to June 15 found us in Syniak, a R.C. retreat center near Mukachevo for the last English overnight camp. Teaching in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains was a pleasure. Fr Wasyl and his wife Anhelina Kopyn were our local coordinators. On June 15 we returned to Lviv after tear-ful goodbyes to do some final shopping and a visit to the crypt at St. George Cathedral where we prayed at the tomb of Metropolitan Sheptytsky for all our benefactors and friends.
“This mission trip would not have been possible without the help and support of all our benefac-tors and volunteers. The children and needy of Ukraine are grateful to all who supported us. May God bless you for your generosity.” said Sr. Ann Laszok.
Praise from our volunteers and local coordinators:
“Thank you very much to our Basilian sisters from America and volunteers who have completed their mission in Ukraine. Your presence was an incredible experience for the children: they could communicate with you in English and learn at the same time some American culture.
The most inspirational thing for the children was your volunteering. You came for free, taught for free and spent your time with them. This example is most memorable to them and it impressed them. Thanks for the inspiration, you gave joy to the children and their parents. We also re-ceived very good reviews from the parents. Therefore, we look forward to seeing you next year and today we are inviting you: Welcome to Ukraine next year!” (Sr Yermiya, OSBM, – coordina-tor of Ivano-Frankivsk day camp)
“Glory forever! Thank you so much for your brilliant pictures! Looking through them I recollect-ed all those days spending together. We appreciate all the work you have done! We appreciate every single day spending with your team! Team of professionals, team of great people, team with the same goal- to serve God and help people. May God help you in all your doings! Thank You for everything! P.S. These days we have a camp where there are a lot of children from your camp. They remember all the songs, all the prayers!!! We are so happy! They ask when will you come again! They miss you! We do too! Hope to see you soon! (Zoryanna Dubravski, coordinator of Drohobych of resident camp)
“This was my first visit to Ukraine, and it was an unforgettable one. I enjoyed meeting the peo-ple, seeing the beautiful countryside, and challenging myself to learn the Ukrainian language.
I taught English grammar to small groups of children who were 7-16 years old. Sr. Joann was the primary teacher, and I learned a lot about teaching from observing her. Most of the children were engaged and eager to learn English and about the American culture. I had fun sharing various candies, such as sour Warheads and sweet Ring Pops, which were offered as rewards for com-pleting the week of camp. After classes, the older kids played card games and shared music with the young volunteers. They were very entertained by our rudimentary Ukrainian language skills, and we laughed and learned together. They are very similar to kids in America, even though they live 6,000 miles away. I continue to maintain contact with some of the friends I made through social media, and I hope to return in the not-so-distant future!” Stephanie Manasterski (Am-bridge, PA) June 2018
“Our recent mission to Ukraine was one of the most meaningful and spiritually enriching experi-ences in our lives. The beauty and splendor of the country provided a magnificent back-drop to our primary mission, namely to help our youth in Ukraine learn more about and become more comfortable with the English language, as well as to provide love and companionship to orphans and the needy. We accomplished that mission, and feel truly Blessed to have been part of this significant journey. It was an enlightening, rewarding and inspiring trip. We are looking forward to joining you on next year’s mission to Ukraine!
Gerry and Olya Tchir (Toms River, NJ) June, 2018
“Ostensibly, we were going to Ukraine to teach – to teach the children some American English. While we did hopefully accomplish some or much of that, we probably came back having learned more than we taught! We learned how vibrant the life is in Ukraine, how religious the people there are; learned that there are wonderful religious and laity who provide for the many needy children where the government support falls short; learned how varied the Divine Liturgy is from one location to another, especially the different melodies and songs of the Transcarpathian re-gion; the warmth and friendliness of the children and staff; and finally, learned that those of us who speak Ukrainian here in the States have a lot of catching up to do with the current Ukrainian vocabulary, picking up some new catchy words like “frikadel’ka” (meatball)! The opportunity to meet personally with our Patriarch Sviatoslav during a celebration in Drohobych was a real bo-nus! Our thanks to Srs. Ann and Joann for making the arrangements and facilitating an experi-ence that will be worth repeating!” George Shevchuk (Toms River, NJ) June, 2018
“For me, this experience was vital, fun, and long lasting…!
Vital because as Americans, Ukrainian Catholics, and adults, we were role models and example setters. Fun… because in addition to the task we were undertaking, we had loads of laughs, sang plenty of songs, and ultimately bonded deeply in ways that don’t happen in just serious situa-tions…and the more fun we had, the more, I believe was internalized of what we were there for!
And finally, long lasting in the sense that even after we left, relationships had been initiated and memories had been formed that transcend time/space and will last forever.
This experience was precious! And it’s my hope and desire to volunteer again next year and years after that, too. it meant a lot to me…I’d like it to become an annual event in my life!
My sincere thanks go to Sisters Ann and Joann…without them, this mission would not happen!”
Dennis Drost (Eugene, OR) June, 2018
Visit our Facebook for more pictures of all our visits and camps at
A presentation of all the camps and orphanages visited will be available upon request by calling or emailing Sr Ann Laszok, OSBM at 412-260-1607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a selection of Pictures from our Mission trip go to