Now gardening in the fields of heaven and baking in God’s ovens....
Irena Lubka Bodnar was born on December 13, 1922 and gently passed away with her loving family by her side on March 14, 2019 at the Ukrainian Canadian Care Center in Etobicoke.
Irena’s strength of character and spirit was developed early on in her birthplace and homeland of Czerniw, Ukraine in the Oblast of Ivano-Frankivsk in Western Ukraine. Highly educated, Irena was a teacher who taught domestic arts as a young woman in Lviv, Ukraine to other young women on how to run large households. Renowned for her baking and cooking, her lively table was always open to others throughout her life, feeding the appetite and the soul. Her apple pies were worth their weight in gold, her varenyky (or perogies) were world-renowned, and her outdoor oven baked bread scented the country air in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
The love of her life, Vlodko, met her at age 19 and was with her to the very end. An unbeatable pair with a love that strengthened each year, they continued to hold hands and pray at the start and end of every day over their 77+ years together. They walked through Europe together during and after World War II, leaving their beloved Ukraine, and traveled through Poland, Germany, Tunisia, and France before landing in their new homeland of Montreal, Quebec in Canada. Starting over in Quebec took ingenuity, fortitude and strength of will. Irena continued to teach, teaching kindergarten children in Ukrainian Saturday school and owned and operated several restaurants, not surprisingly. Irena was very active in the Ukrainian community, including leading various Ukrainian women’s leagues and always supported her community through activities, fundraising and more.
Her other passion in life was gardening. When she and her husband retired in their mid-50s to the Eastern Townships of Quebec to a Ukrainian community called Vorohta, they moved to their country house on that reminded them of the lush green landscape of Ukraine. The country house that her beloved Vlodko built was perched on top of rolling four acres with a view of Mt. Owl’s Head and Lake Memphremagog. Their acreage had a fruit orchard, four greenhouses, tons of garden beds in full bloom from spring to fall, an outdoor oven, a chicken coop, and countless other treasures for guests and friends to enjoy. Passersby in their cars or on bikes could often be found picnicing on the bottom acre as they thought the Bodnar property was a park! They welcomed everyone into their home warmly and shared everything they had. Her home was always full of laughter and joy and overflowing with the happiness that radiated out of her and affected those in her sphere. Irena continued her hospitality in their new home in Terra Cotta, Ontario, in the Ukrainian community of Poltawa Country Club, when they moved there in 2007.
Irena leaves a lasting legacy of generosity, love, laughter and a strong faith in God and the Virgin Mary. Her faith kept her believing in light and love in the darkest and scariest times of her life and graced her with wisdom, goodness, and inner peace.
She is survived by her beloved husband Wolodymyr (Vlodko, as she called him) Bodnar; her children Shania Bodnar, Olga Bodnar (and her fiancé Bruce Porter), Zen Bodnar (and his wife Sue Hobler), and Nellie Weill (and her husband Paul Weill); her grandchildren Rayissa Nascimento (and her husband Jorge Nascimento), Darian Slywka (and his partner Christina Collins), Kristian Slywka (and his fiancé Laura Meyer), Alexander Wasylyk (and his wife Tania Motchula), Andre Wasylyk (and his partner Marie-Eve Richard), Adrian Wasylyk, Andre Bodnar, and Darian Bodnar; and her great-grandchildren Isabella Slywka, Peter Wasylyk, Sara Wasylyk, Andrea Wasylyk, and Jayda Bodnar.
Irena will be immensely missed by all those that knew her. A very special soul, may she Rest In Peace. Vichnaya Pamnyat.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Irena’s last home, which took such good care of her this last year and made it very special, the Ukrainian Canadian Care Center. https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/25329 Located at 60 Richview Rd in Etobicoke.