A pilgrimage icon with an embedded first-class relic of a Ukrainian sister who was the founding member of a religious order will come to area churches and schools this month.

The icon of Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska, foundress of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, entered the United States at JFK Airport in New York on Oct. 5 as part of a worldwide tour to countries where the SSMI sisters are serving. The icon was welcomed by members of the religious order, which was accompanied by Sister MariaZelia Znak from Brazil. The icon and relic will be in the United States until Jan. 17, 2015.

“We are honored to have it and it’s a direct outgrowth of the fact that the sisters have worked in this deanery for the better part of 75 years with the school in Shamokin, when it was open, and the school in Minersville,” the Very Rev. Archpriest Michael Hutsko, dean of the South Anthracite Protopresbytery (Deanery) of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, said. He also serves as pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul and Assumption BVM Ukrainian Catholic churches in Mount Carmel and Centralia.

“Their presence here, and their current work now, enabled us to have this opportunity,” he said. “The sisters will be traveling from parish to parish with this icon and relic. The idea behind this was that Blessed Josaphata was not able to visit the missions that the sisters were serving in throughout the world, and in honor of the 125th anniversary, they had this icon written and the relic put into it. In a sense, they’re bringing her to all the places she could not come to. In a spiritual sense, she is experiencing the mission of the sisters, and at the same time we are experiencing the graces that come from having among us, especially with the relic, a person who is on her way to sainthood.”

Hutsko said the presence of the icon with a first-class relic — a bone — brings blessings and graces from God.

“All of us are excited about the opportunities that it presents for spiritual enrichment and growth, which is what we are really trying to focus upon in all of our parishes,” Hutsko said. “We’re getting it in our archeparchy before the icon visits anywhere else, including the cathedral, which is a real recognition of the faith of our South Anthracite Deanery and the work of the sisters here.”

The 125th anniversary of the founding of the congregation is in 2017.

Sister Natalya Stoczanyn, SSMI, who is serving in the deanery from the Immaculate Conception Province, provided the following schedule of the icon visits to Ukrainian and Ruthenian Byzantine parishes in Schuylkill, Northumberland, Columbia, Lackawanna and Dauphin counties:

• Saturday: St. Nicholas Parish, North Morris Street, Saint Clair.

• Sunday: Ss. Cyril & Methodius Parish, 135 River St., Olyphant.

• Nov. 11: St. Ann Byzantine Parish, 5408 Locust Lane, Harrisburg.

• Nov. 12-13: St. Michael Parish, 114 S. Chestnut St., Shenandoah. A press conference about the icon visit will be held Nov. 12 at St. Michael.

• Nov. 15: Transfiguration Parish, 227 N. Shamokin St., Shamokin.

• Nov. 16: Assumption BVM Parish, North Paxton Street, Centralia.

• Nov. 17: Ss. Peter & Paul Parish, 131 N. Beech St., Mount Carmel.

• Nov. 18: St. Nicholas School and Religious Education Program, Minersville.

• Nov. 19: Ss. Peter & Paul Byzantine Parish, 107 S. Fourth St., Minersville.

• Nov. 20: Ss. Cyril & Methodius Parish, 706 N. Warren St., Berwick.

• Nov. 23: St. Nicholas Parish, 515 N. Front St., Minersville.

Times at each location will be announced. A presentation on the life of Blessed Josaphata will be given in each parish.

Sister Josaphata was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 2001 during his visit to Ukraine. At least one miracle has been attributed to her intercession. One more miracle is necessary for her canonization.

“Come, honor this holy woman and saint of the 20th century. Learn about her life. Pray for her intercession and pray for her canonization,” Stoczanyn said.

Biographical information on Blessed Josaphata is available at the SSMI website at http://ssmi-us.org/index.php?categoryid=15.

Founded in Ukraine in 1892, the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate is a Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic congregation of more than 900 sisters and has ministries in 13 countries: Ukraine, Brazil, Canada, Serbia, Slovakia, Poland, Argentina, Italy, Germany, France, England, Australia and the United States. The order’s ministries include education, care of the elderly, retreats, sewing vestments and pastoral ministry.