+Brother Isadore Wasylenchuk, F.S.C.

 

Brother Isidore Wasylenchuk passed away peacefully at Loretto Abbey on Friday, February 17, 2017 in his 92nd year. See more at: Canadian Obituaries.com

Tribute to Brother Isidore Wasylenchuk

– as recorded by Rt. Rev. Andrew Muzyka

A man who brought out the best in anyone he met or dealt with!  He lived what he believed as a “religious” doing what God asked him to do with humility. He had no illusions!

Brother Isidore was born into a homesteading family of Ukrainian immigrants nearby the village of Hyas north of Yorkton, Saskatchewan. He was the youngest of three children having two older sisters.

Working as homesteaders was hard work and everyone in the family had to help.  For Brother Isidore that meant mostly work in the barn and in the fields where he would drive the team of horses, feed the animals and milk the cows.  He even helped a bit inside the house, an area left mostly to the females of the home.  At age 7 he began grade one in a one room country school. The school starting age was 7 because of the distance to the school and the harsh Saskatchewan climate.  The school year went from September to the end of July with the month of January off to accommodate the weather.  Isidore walked the 2 ½ miles each day to school and back home again.  There were no buses or parents to drive him.  After he finished grade 8 in this school, Isidore ventured into Yorkton where he enrolled as a boarding student at St. Joseph’s college, an all boys’ school run by the Institute of Brothers of the Christian Schools, where he completed grades 9, 10, 11 in just 2 years.  It was here that he decided he wanted to become a teaching brother, and he moved to the Brothers’ headquarters just south of Aurora in Ontario where he finished grade 13 and his training as a brother.

After WWII there was a shortage of trained teachers.  Saskatchewan had established a two summer teacher training program granting a teaching permit after the first summer and a temporary certificate after the second.  A permanent certificate was granted on the completion of 3 university courses.  Brother Isidore attended this program and began his teaching career in 1945 in Yorkton at St. Joseph’s College where he taught all subjects to grade 9 boys.  He moved on to teach older students and eventually became the principal.  While at St. Joseph’s Brother Isidore established off-campus classes for the University of Saskatchewan where he taught Ukrainian language and literature.  Soon he was travelling twice a week to the University of Regina where he also taught Ukrainian language and literature.  This was a successful venture and he was asked to continue but he was moved to La Salle Manor, a retirement home for brothers in Toronto, in 1980 where he became the administrator for the next 6 years of the Toronto District which included Quebec.

It was while in Yorkton the Brother Isidore was awarded a 15 month fellowship by UNESCO to study Ukrainian language and literature at the University of Ottawa towards his PhD degree. On his way home to Toronto, he met with his superior in Montreal. While driving through Lachine his superior told him of the Brother Principal there who was asked to go to St Vincent in the Caribbean, but the parents were reluctant to let him go. The job fell to Brother Isidore, and off he went to St. Vincent for a 2 year stint sponsored by Canadian International Development Agency.  From here he travelled on a “banana boat” to Wales where he had a holiday, and then on to Ireland before he flow home.  He spent one additional year in St. Vincent filling in for a colleague on sabbatical leave.

Brother Isidore also spent some time in Nigeria where he was a part of a team that was able to bring water not only to the school but to the village from a pond nearby.  The people had depended on water from unreliable wells up to this time.

After De la Salle College discontinued from boarding program, space became available for the many applicants from Hong Kong who wanted to come to Canada to learn and improve their English language skills.  For 4 summers Brother Isidore travelled to Hong Kong to select students for this program.  He would “work” for one week and then travel to places such as Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines and Singapore for his own education and pleasure.

Because of his knowledge of Ukrainian he accompanied Brothers from Poland who wanted to establish the Brothers in Ukraine.  While there from 1992 to 1996 he began teaching English mostly to adult professionals in the parish hall.  Soon he was moved into a school to a real classroom where he taught night classes to his students.  Before long he was also teaching daytime English classes twice a week to staff in the local hospital.  In Ukraine he was joined for one year by a young American volunteer who helped him in his duties.  They became fast friends.

What he contributed to the Eparchy, to the Saskatchewan Education and to humanity.

He had a vision – always positive – a new College was build and a new and up to date curriculum, a unique chapel and two years of university programs and church services went in to the vernacular.  Always ready and helping those who needed. Financial supports and spiritual help. For example he worked on the Knights of Columbus founding of 3rd and 4th degrees and for the boys choirs.

The most important legacy for Catholic Education was his role of leadership in getting financial aid for grades nine to twelve.  First there was the agreement and cooperation of St Joseph’s College and Yorkton School Board with Reg Ball as president.  They rented the classrooms – collecting the per diem grants and turning it over to St. Joseph’s College and Sacred Heart Academy.

Pushing for equal rights Olaf Turnbull of the NDP party was convinced to present a bill granting equal rights to Catholic schools. Brother Isidore and his team made this possible in 1964 for which we are grateful.

Brother Isidore has celebrated 73 years as a Brother of the Christin Schools.  He says he has had a great life and has no regrets.  His advice to young people is to be honest and outgoing.  Do not live in a shell, but share your life with friends and family.  Brother Isidore’s life is a fine example of a life well lived.

 

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