May 5th, 2019


       Cover artwork created by Kevin Shermock and A.J. Savastinuk

In Joyful Celebration of the 40th. Anniversary of the

Sisterhood of St. Barbara

For their

honor our Sisters before us


Our current Sisters, for their accomplishments

As significant and integral Members

of our

Church’s Life.  

To our
future Sisters, may Christ give you guidance

as you continue our legacy. 

1984 Members



The Sisterhood of st. Barbara

Mary Thomas Jean Zrowka,
Annette Swenda.
Alexis Vale Alice Ferrer
Lil Kopetz,
Mary Skiba.
Jeanette Murin,
Olga Grib,
Lorraine Hruby
Patricia Thanasides,
Joanne D’Arienzo,
Joyce Telep




The Life of Saint Barbara

Taken from the Minutes of their First Meeting

Saint Barbara was raised as a heathen by her father (a Greek) Dioscorus. Against her father’s wishes she had secret instructions from a Christian priest and became a Christian, embracing the Faith fervently.

Legend has it that although her father tortured her and confined her to
an inaccessible tower she escaped to a nearby mountain. Dioscorus and the imperial soldiers of Emperor Maximianus followed and caught her. She was then beheaded by her own father. As he left the spot he was struck by lightning and killed.

Prayers are offered to Saint Barbara to intercede in sudden death. There are many mining towns in Pennsylvania were  [named] Saint Barbara because she is the patron Saint because of the hazardous conditions of

Its Origins

On March 11, 1979 the ladies of the Russian Orthodox Church of the
Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary met for the purpose of forming an
organization.  Father Dimitri opened the first meeting with a prayer and a welcome to the members. 

The selection of a name for the organization was the first point of
order.    With a suggestion by Father Dimitri, a Saint’s name would be appropriate and with that, he offered five saints with a summary of their good deeds and righteous characters: Saint Theodora, Saint Catherine, Saint Barbara, Saint Helen and Saint Olga. With a vote by the show of hands the group present selected Saint Barbara.  The official title of the organization to be further designated as ‘The Sisterhood of Saint Barbara.’

The purpose and goal of the newly organized Sisterhood of Saint Barbara
is first its total commitment to God and the glorification of His Holy Orthodox Church, the propagation of the Orthodox Christian Faith and the promotion of Christian virtues among its members.   It will be a fund-raising organization to provide adequate resources towards the improvement and betterment of our Church.

Membership in the Sisterhood is open to all women who are members in
good standing of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary Orthodox church, Clifton, NJ. 

The object of the Sisterhood is to bring woman together for mutual
camaraderie, fellowship and service to our parish and community.    As members of the Body of Christ, we also extend our philanthropy efforts in various charitable outreach programs and to individuals in need.

The Feast Day of the Sisterhood is the Feast of St. Barbara, December 4th.  The Feast is to be observed annually by a Molieben for all living members and Parastas for all deceased members with membership in attendance.

First officers of The Sisterhood of Saint Barbara March 11, 1979:

President:                    Mary Thomas

Vice President:            Jean Candela

Secretary:                    Emily Nosal

Treasurer:                   Violet Koribanics

In regard to the past four decades, what follows is a synopsis about
the importance of the Sisterhood and how it has supported the maintenance of the Church over this span of 40 years through our fund raising efforts that provided financial assistance to help meet the needs of many projects of the Church, the rectory and out-reach programs for here in Clifton and in other communities. 

By highlighting the events and the efforts by the Sisterhood through
members and current members, we can maintain transparency of the Sisterhood’s main objective, which is maintaining the livelihood of the Church and its spirit.

 In 2017, the Sisterhood contributed substantially to the new roof for the Church. Presently, our new project is to earn the funds to repair our Church parking lot; therefore, the proceeds from our fund-raising efforts, going forward, will be earmarked for this cause.

During the first decade 1979 – 1988:

The Sisterhood Guidelines/By-laws-unanimously approved April 1, 1979

Sunshine Ministry and Ways & Means (standing committees).

Fund raising efforts:

Cookbook sales

Entertainment discount coupon books

Home made quilt raffles

Bus trips to: Atlantic City, Memorial Day to St. Tikhon’s, Theatre plays, etc

Easter chocolate candy sales

Merchandise raffles at Willowbrook [Mall]

Chinese auction

Calendar party

Dinner dances: luau, country, winter wonderland

Projects supported through fund raising:

Carpeting in church

Carpeting, furnishings, repairs in rectory

Repairs to school roof

Donations to:

Church building fund

St. Tikhons Seminary

St. Vladimir’s Seminary

Diocesan Center Fund

OCA Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards

Mary Thomas Fund


Repairs inside rectory & school roof

Liturgy & Easter Liturgy books for choir

Supported Church/altar needs:

St. Barbara Icon

Communion serving tables,

Baptismal font

Vestments-priest & altar servers

Drapes & altar covers

Various supplies/needs for Church school & kitchen

Presidents 1979 – 1988:

                  Mary Thomas                                                      Alice Ferrer

                  Jean Zrowka                                                         Alexis Vale

                  Annette Swenda                                                  Olga Grib

During the second decade 1989 –1998:

 Sisterhood Guideline amended – Tenure of Office/Elected Office – unanimously approved.             November 30, 1998

Fund raising efforts:

Country dance

Supermarket gift certificates

Holiday/Easter candy

Flea market

Rummage sale


Entertainment discount coupon books

Lenten fish dinner

 Projects supported through fund raising:

Church pews repaired/cleaned

Church carpet/red selected

Furniture for rectory

Altar server vestments

donations to:

Church-Christmas & Easter

St. Peter’s Haven/pantry drive:

Presidents 1989 – 1998:

            Lorraine Hruby          Mary Skiba

            Lillian Kopez                Jeannette Murin

            Joanne D’Arienzo       Patricia Thanasides

            Joyce Telep                          

During the third decade 1999 – 2008:

Fund raising efforts:

Entertainment discount coupon books

Supermarket gift certificates

Cookbook sales

Holiday/Easter candy sale

Flea market

Quilt raffle

Tricky tray

Flowering bulb sale

Fish dinner

Projects supported through fund

Donations to:

Church/Christmas & Easter

Alaska Diocese/Spruce Island Restoration

St. Tikhon’s Seminary

St. Vladimir’s Seminary

Russian & Mexico Orphanages

Mental Health Clinic

St. Peter’s Haven/pantry drive


Supported Church/altar needs:

New bell system

Vestments/priest & altar servers

Carpeting in Church vestibule

Carpeting & linoleum in rectory

Fence-back of Church & rectory

Fence front of parking lot

Presidents 1999-2008:

Joyce Telep           Jeannett Murin

Patricia Thanasides

During the fourth decade 2009 – present:

Fund-raising efforts:

Tricky tray

Candy & plant sales

Supermarket gift certificates

Rummage sale/raffle

Dinners-to-go/soup & bake sales

St. Nicholas Day Fish Dinners

Projects supported through fund raising:

Donations to:

St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Mexican Orphanage

St. Andrew’s Summer Camp

Distinguished Diocesan Benefactors


St. Peter’s Haven/pantry drive

Parishioner’s missionary work

Church/Christmas & Easter

Parish Beefsteak event

Christmas Tree


Queen mattress/box springs

Contributed to purchase of new refrigerator

Carpet Cleaning service (one time)

Supported Church needs

Contributed to purchase of new refrigerator in kitchen

Contributed to refurbish class rooms; paint, carpet, etc.

Provided lunch for grounds cleanup crew

Contributed to purchase equipment for OACT [Orange Avenue Community Theater]

Contributed substantially to the new roof

2015:   Rummage Sale/auspices of the Sisterhood

            Re-Established the Sunshine Ministry

            Sisterhood of St. Barbara Fund Raising Boutique formed

            Memorial Photograph – Irene Subtelny

2016:   St. Barbara prayer cards & small icons for females who were Christened into the Orthodox Church

            First financial audit

2017:   Celebrated Sub-deacon Christopher

2018:   web-site established:

Presidents  2009 –  Present

Joyce Telep

June Zachmann

Sharon Koribanics

We wish to extend a special Thank You to the following who worked tirelessly in sharing their talents and time on the preparations for our 40th Anniversary Celebration:

Archpriest Terence Baz, Matushka Barbara Baz, Ludmilla Di Milla, Sharon Koribanics, Barbara Polk, Katherine Robinson, Deborah Sancenito, John Savastinuk, Kevin Shermock, Joyce Telep and Marilyn Wong-Hutnyan. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this anniversary so memorable.

Thank you also to Mrs. Leslie Franciose, Professional Photo Finishing (Pro-Lab), for your generous donation of the frame and your time and talents in the reproduction of the Saint Barbara commemorative artwork.

To all our Sisters that includes a membership of 117 hardworking ladies over the span of 40 years thank you for all of your labors in having built our Sisterhood of Saint Barbara organization over the course of many years. Remembering their names, their life stories, and their contributions is a true gift in with can never be repaid; ‘a cloud of witnesses’ who have already given us a priceless heritage, yet another gift to generations to come.

To our departed Sisters: may their Memories be Eternal!

To our living Sisters: may God grant you many, many years!

Some Treasured Memories

“I was in high school, I think, when Mary Thomas, Jean Candela and
other women of the parish decided it was time for women to take a more vocal role in the church. There had been an altar society back in the day, but the women wanted their own organization. That’s what I recall of the “birth” of the Sisterhood of St. Barbara. I was too young to join it then, but I did join when I was in college.

Also, in the late 70’s, Mary, Jean, and the other women of the parish
started something that, up to that point, had been unheard of. They read the Epistle during Sunday Liturgy. At the time, it was revolutionary. [I] joined the list when I joined the choir, in my late teens. The Sisterhood of St. Barbara was, and remains, a hard working part of the parish. God bless “the Sisterhood.” –  Daria Chasse (nee Rydzaj)

“After Easter when we had the plants in the church, the members of the
Sisterhood of St. Barbara used to deliver them to the people who were sick.
They were so happy to receive them. They missed church so much and this gave them comfort.” – Helen Dolocheck

“I remember back when Fr. Oselinsky was our priest. We had our
Christmas party in the church hall in the evening before Christmas. It was very nice. I would guess there were around 20-25 women. We each brought a grab bag gift to exchange. There was wine, snacks and food like salads, etc. It was a very festive party, and I still have the “take home” gift that everyone got.

A nice memory.

And remembering Mary Thomas who was such a wonderful person and
witnessing her devotion to God and the church was very inspiring!” – Olga Grib

“I was in grade school and went to the Calendar Party with my mother in
the Father Olchovy Memorial Hall. I thought it was the greatest thing! was in grade school.

It was exciting to see all the decorated tables overflowing and
decorated to the ceiling…Halloween, July 4th, June Bride, Easter, Christmas and so on. Each table made their own food.

I remember Jean Soroka, Jean Candela, Violet and Irene Koribanics, the
Telep family, Irene Subtelney, Torres family, Coleson family, Alice Basic, Olga Grib. There were many more, sorry, I forgot your names.

I remember this party to this day. It was a great event.

To join the Sisterhood, I was interviewed by Jean Soroka, who was
President (30 or more years ago). She said ‘All we do is for the Glory of God’.

The Sisterhood still keeps this tradition alive today.

Many Years!”  – Pat Mazur

“It was some time ago, I was enjoying my coffee during coffee hour
after Divine Liturgy, when Marion Dutkevitch coaxed me to attend a Sisterhood of St. Barbara meeting with her. Father Stephen was our new priest. It is more than a decade ago and I’m still here… attending meetings and working alongside some of those same “hardworking dedicated women” who welcomed me to my first meeting. Kudos to you all for your steadfast loyalty as we continue working together with love for our Church. God Bless!” – Barbara Polk

“My first memory is when the Sisterhood ran the Tricky Tray Fund-raiser.
Although it was a lot of hard work getting donations for the gift baskets to be raffled off, it was always a huge success each year. Joyce Telep always chaired the event and I recall she always managed to get her family members involved to help out, it was always very organized, always a job well done! I recall the hall was filled from one end to the other with gift baskets. People would be lined up outside waiting for the doors to open. I even found an old listing of all the gifts from 2008. Next would be the St. Nicholas Fish Dinner – this event has always been successful. I keep saying they need to charge more for a ticket, given the food items that are prepared. The Sisterhood members also provide the desserts. They always come through with their support for our Parish and they do it with love and dedication.

More recently – the Sisterhood made a substantial donation towards the
new Church roof in 2017. Without their generous contribution, we wouldn’t have been [able] to pay for the roof without withdrawing funds from our investment account.

In closing, we are a better parish because of the many members of the Sisterhood, past and present, their love and dedication for this Church is undeniable and we are so blessed to have them!” –  Donna Betza

Letters from Past Presidents

Annette Swenda

As one of the original founders and past President of the Sisterhood of St.
Barbara, I remember nothing but fun and laughter, and good times.   One of the most fun times we used to have Theme Dances one a year, with theme decorations.  We had a Hawaiian Luau, Winter Wonderland,
and a country western even with a jail someone built.  I remember painting the back- drops for each theme that were hung up behind the band.  It was a large canvas from almost one side of the stage wall to the
other, not quite but also from ceiling to floor.  The night of the dance there were flood lights on the floor shinning up on the canvas. 

Entrance to the hall had decorations, table decorations.  We not only planned the food menu for the affair..we cooked all the food and served all the food.   After the guests all left, we cleaned the hall and the kitchen before we left. As I look back, I have nothing but happy memories.

Happy 40th !! God grant you many years.

Olga Grib

Congratulations to all the members in the Sisterhood of Saint Barbara!

Happy 40th anniversary.

It has been a pleasure to be involved with such a wonderful family of Sisters.

May the Sisterhood of Saint Barbara continue to grow and do good works.

Withlove and prayers.

Joyce Telep

It has been my extreme honor to serve as President of the Sisterhood of Saint Barbara for many years.

I honor all the past members who were my inspiration and had set an example of dedication and devotion. I often think about all the beautiful women I have had the honor to work with and [thus] I hold them so close to my heart.  My enthusiasm and devotedness grew from the
love I feel for all my Sisters and especially my faith in God. Saint Barbara’s
life guides my passions and taught me how to serve our Church, our families and community. I am heartfully grateful that I have had the opportunity to serve.

June Zachmann

My time as President brought me much joy and I continue to support the wonderful women of our Parish. One of the best memories I have was planning and putting on our first Annual Tricky Tray. It was a time that I discovered what wonderful and dedicated women there were in the Sisterhood. I pay reverence to my Sisters who have passed away and acknowledge all the current members. Congratulations on 40 years to
the Sisterhood of Saint Barbara.

2010 Members