With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Your servant the nun, Julia, where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting. Kontakion
On Monday, August 24, 2015, Sister Julia Rohaly, OSB, a Byzantine Benedictine Sister of Queen of Heaven Monastery in Warren, Ohio, celebrated her entrance to eternal life with God. The Divine Liturgy of a deceased nun was celebrated by Metropolitan Archbishop William C Skurla in the church of SS. Peter and Paul in Warren, Ohio., along with the Reverend Andrew J. Deskevich, pastor of the parish Church and many other priests. Also attending were Sister Mary Bratrsovsky, Prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle, Illinois, the Benedictine sisters of Lisle and Warren, and the family of Sister Julia, including devoted nieces and nephews: Also present were be the Oblates of Saint Benedict and members of Saint Benedict’s Auxiliary and friends. The evening before at the wake, Vespers of a Deceased Nun was prayed by all present.
Sister Julia was born in Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania and grew up in Erie. Her parents were George and Julia (Pirlock) Rohaly, both deceased. Her brothers were John, William, and Michael, and her sister was Anna Bulles, all deceased. Sister attended elementary and high school in Erie and worked for a number of years for General Electric in Erie, PA. She entered Sacred Heart Convent in Lisle Illinois and made profession of vows on July 26, 1960. She was a Charter member of Queen of Heaven Monastery of the Byzantine Rite which was founded in 1969.
Early in religious life, Sister Julia cooked for the sisters at the motherhouse in Lisle and at missions in Chicago. She also cooked for the sisters when they came to Warren. She then worked in food service at Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Warren until 1983 when she retired. She baked prosphora (altar bread) for Saints Peter and Paul Church and the monastery for many years. At the same time she ministered in the care of infants and children and to home-bound adults.
Sister Julia enjoyed life and God’s blessings. Bishop James Malone of the Youngstown Diocese always said she had a “million-dollar smile”. Sister was always faithful to community prayer. She was loved by her fellow sisters and many friends. She loved to work with her plants, and avidly collected and gave away recipes. She enjoyed contact with her many nieces and nephews who faithfully kept in touch with her. Sister resided at Windsor House in Champion, a nursing home in a suburb of Warren, Ohio. She was always well-liked by all.
Sister Mary John Semon, OSB, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of the Byzantine Church at Queen of Heaven Monastery in Warren, Ohio, died after a short illness on December 20, 2012 at The Assumption Village in North Lima, Ohio.
She was born in Glen Campbell, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1916, the daughter of the late Peter Semon and Susan Franko Semon and the oldest of eleven children. At the age of 17 she left home to work in New York City. She joined St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church there and became active in the Legion of Mary and the Sodality of Our Lady, attending the Divine Liturgy frequently.
Encouraged by friends, she entered the newly-formed community of the Sisters of Christ the Teacher in Pittsburgh on December 7, 1959, and made her final profession of vows on January 6, 1964. She taught at Byzantine Catholic parish schools in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, Carteret, New Jersey, and Lakewood, Ohio. When the community of Sisters of Christ the Teacher disbanded, she transferred to the Benedictine Sisters of the Byzantine Church at Queen of Heaven Monastery in Warren, Ohio in 1973. She taught elementary grade students at Saints Peter and Paul School, Warren until 1989. For many summers she also volunteered with the Appalachian Project in Vanceburg, Kentucky. She began working with the young children at the Benedictine Early Learning Center on the property of Queen of Heaven Monastery in 1989. When the BEL Center closed, she volunteered as a teacher aide at the Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Warren from 1999 to 2007. In 2009 she was one of the two honorary co-chairs for the Retirement Fund for Religious appeal in the Diocese of Youngstown. She celebrated her silver jubilee of religious profession in 1985 and her golden jubilee in 2010. Sister was a member of the Greek Catholic Union, the Society of Saint John Chrysostom, the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, and Howland Scope.
Sister Mary John leaves behind four brothers, Edward, Albert, John, and David Semon, and three sisters, Irene Semon Verbiak, Dorothy Ann Semon Callaghan, and Margaret Semon Rudin. She was preceded in death by two brothers, Joseph and Michael Semon, and a sister, Mary Semon Moe.
A Parastas was celebrated Wednesday evening, December 26 at Saints Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Warren by Very Reverend Andrew J. Deskevich, chancellor of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church. Mary Beth Byers cantored the service.
The Funeral Liturgy was concelebrated at Saints Peter and Paul Church on Thursday, December 27 by Metropolitan Archbishop William C. Skurla of Pittsburgh, Very Reverend Andrew J. Deskevich, and Abbot Leo R. Schlosser of Holy Trinity Monastery, Butler, Pennsylvania and pastor of St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Lyndora, Pennsylvania. Also present were Reverend Monsignor Alexis E. Mihalik, pastor emeritus of Infant of Prague Byzantine Catholic Church in Boardman, Ohio, Reverend Robert J. Karl, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, and Reverend Christopher R. Burke, pastor of Infant Jesus of Prague Church. Wiley Byers, Bill Catlin, and Jacob Mosko served as acolytes. Mary Beth Byers cantored the Liturgy and Stephen Byers chanted the epistle.
Family members present included Edward and David Semon; Irene, Frank, Cathy and Bob Verbiak; Margaret Rudin; Karen and Kerrie Riegel; and Tonda Gaddy. Besides the sisters of her religious community, Sister Valeria Evanyo, OSBM and Sister Elaine Kisinko, OSBM of the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great, Uniontown, Pennsylvania attended, as well as Sister Mary Ann Diersing, OSU of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. Also present were members of Saint Benedict’s Auxiliary, the Oblates of Saint Benedict, the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, and the Society of Saint John Chrysostom, as well as parishioners and friends. The committal service took place at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in Warren, followed by a repast at Enzo’s Restaurant.
Sister Mary John enjoyed life and God’s blessings. She was a strong-minded, gifted woman, enjoying books, quiz shows, word puzzles, opera, ballet, art museums, sports, plants, vegetable gardening, yoga, arts and crafts, traveling with Scope, the annual pilgrimage to Uniontown, and the activities of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. She also volunteered at the St. Vincent DePaul Dining Hall in Warren. Sister Mary John had a deep spirituality and love for prayer. In her last days which were often filled with pain, she asked to receive the Sacraments as often as possible. As Father Deskevich remarked in his homily, she left a mark on the lives of many.