In the comfort of family, Katharina Kowalczuk (Катерина Ковальчук) passed away at the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre in Toronto, Ontario on Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the age of 101.
Born in Hannivtsi, Halyts’kyi District, Ivano Frankivska Oblast, Ukraine on September 18, 1920, the daughter of Petro Seniw and Anna Seniw (née Wicka), she was one of six children. Her older brothers, Oleksa and Wasyl, perished in their fight for Ukraine’s freedom and she was also predeceased by her brother Mykola and her sister Maria. Katharina’s education had to be interrupted at this time. When the Germans were taking forced labourers from Ukraine, Katharina, at the age of twenty, volunteered to go so that her younger brother, Stepan, would not be taken away. In Germany she met her husband Wasyl with whom she had three children: Stepan (died in infancy), Michael, and Anna. In 1948 Katharina immigrated to the United States with Wasyl, Michael, and Anna and they were the first Ukrainian family to settle in Detroit, Michigan after the war.
Katharina and Wasyl worked very hard to raise their family. They instilled Ukrainian culture and heritage into their children through Ukrainian schools, the church, and community organizations. In 1982, the day after Katharina retired, Katharina and Wasyl moved to Toronto and lived in the St. Demetrius Residence where they were active in the St. Demetrius Ukrainian Church community. At the residence Katharina and Wasyl would hold zabavas in the residence corridor and the neighbours would dance the night away. She loved to cook (one would always find her in the kitchen), sing, dance, and play bingo. She loved hosting weekly family Sunday lunches after church. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren will miss Babunia’s chicken soup, homemade noodles, city chicken (aka patychyky), and pampushky. She often had her great-grandchildren (6 and 7 years old) volunteer in the residence, helping the tenants with their bingo cards. Katharina was active in the Ukrainian Women’s League and often volunteered at the church making varenyky. No matter how difficult life was, she believed in God and in the good among people. Katharina never said “no” to anyone. She opened her heart and home to everyone. She was always the first to help and lend a listening ear. She was the surrogate Baba to many. Katharina instilled in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren a love for their Ukrainian roots and culture.
Katharina loved to travel. She travelled to Ukraine in the 1970s to see her brother Stepan and in 1984 where she accompanied several grandchildren to meet their elderly paternal grandmother for the first time. Katharina loved her grandchildren and spent time with them at the family cottages in Hunter, New York and Houghton Lake, Michigan. She loved the “B” family reunions which will forever be memorable for us. Цю (“Tsiu”) loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loved to feed everyone. She even dressed up as St. Mykolay to the delight of her young grandchildren. She visited her great-grandchildren at St. Demetrius School during recess and handed out bags of cookies to all the students who ran up to her. The students knew that she would be there and would crowd around her waiting to receive cookies. This delighted Katharina so much. She also let her great-grandsons into the tuck shop at the residence so that the boys could purchase treats for their friends during recess. She was the cool Baba. The residents looked forward to her bringing her great-grandchildren over for Halloween each year.
She will be dearly missed by her children Michael (Carol) and Anna (the late Matey), grandchildren Marta (Chris), Lynne (Dan), Yuri (Deborah), Michael (Jennifer), Roma, Daniel, Kathy, and great-grandchildren Andriyko, Maksym, Sophiyka, Naoma, and Nastia.
We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the staff at the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre with special thanks to: Trudy (“Trudy Baby” as Katharina would call her), Jennifer (“Jefferson” as Katharina would call her), Anne, Catherine, Lucita, Glenice, Faith, Svitlana, and Danuta.
The family kindly requests that in lieu of flowers, in honour of Katharina, donations can be made to St. Demetrius Church or to the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre.
Бабуня стала гарною Берегинею нашого роду. Бабуня, наш добрий геній, в усьому прагнемо бути схожою на неї - мати міцний хребет, українську душу, і серце повне любові.
Katharina was an extraordinary woman whose spirit will live in our hearts forever. Babunia, you will forever be our sunshine. May your memory be eternal. Вічная пам’ять.
Please click for the link to the livestream at St. Demetrius
We must continue to maintain physical distancing, the wearing of masks and may not allow more than 25 guests at any one time. Once the maximum limit has been reached, we will ask any additional guests to kindly wait outside in a physically-distanced line until there is room to enter.
December 21, 2021
Cardinal Funeral Home - Annette Chapel
04:00 PM - 07:00 PM
Panakhyda at 7 pm
December 22, 2021
St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church
December 22, 2021
St. Volodymyr Cemetery
Arrival time is approximate