Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church
Orthodox Church in America
Clifton, NJ
40th Anniversary

               40th Anniversary 2019

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


 In Joyful Celebration of the 40th. Anniversaryof the Sisterhood of St. Barbara 1979-2019. For their dedication, We honor our Sisters before us and 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 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 mining.  

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:
Cook book 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 (NJ)
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 raising:
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
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
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 Chrismated 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 wich 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. 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 Fundraiser. 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.

With love 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 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

2019 Members