Our dearly loved mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend, Štefica Škof passed away peacefully in St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. She was 81, and the last living member of her immediate family in Croatia.
Born in Cetinovec, a rural town in Croatia's Zagorje, she was the youngest of nine children, and raised on her family farm with a strong work ethic and a firm belief in God's goodness. She valued being independent and capable, and was proud to be one of the first women in her area to finish school and work as a court administrator.
A lengthy exchange of letters led to love with Ivan Škof, followed by an adventurous move overseas to join him in Toronto, where they were wed at Our Lady Queen of Croatia Church. Together they welcomed and raised six children: Robert, Vincent, Anica, Stephanie, Marko, and Kristina.
Štefica valued honesty and the busy-ness of hard work. She quickly learned English and found employment, whether in a clerk's office or in hospitality. She was twice-awarded Employee of the Year. Active in church life and the Croatian community, she was a member of Klub Hrvatsko Zagorje, numerous charities, and the Down Syndrome Association. Her beautiful singing voice highlighted our lives, and she taught her daughters many hymns. She enthusiastically joined the CroArte Choir, adding more joy and friendships to her life. She loved to garden and to create delicious desserts and meals. She had a lifelong zest for learning, often reading medical or scientific articles. Learning to use a computer, the daily Mass online became a comfort over these last years.
Štefica remains a deeply loved mother-in-law to Nigel, David, and Sarah, and Baka to her six grandchildren: Isabella and Matthew, Nicholas and Amelia, and Lola and Avila. She always found ways to connect with each of them personally, even as her health took a toll on her energy.
In her final days, she took great solace in her late husband's poignant dying words, "Isuse, srce moje nek je Tvoje," ("Jesus, may my heart be Yours"). She expressed her appreciation and gratitude for every person in her life, all friends, relatives, coworkers, grandchildren, and children, and asked God to bless each one as she felt God had blessed her.
A mother’s love is with us from the beginning, and yet it is only with the passing of the years – as we grow and experience life – that we realize how much goes into that love. Her selfless and loving spirit will be deeply missed.
For those who wish, in lieu of flowers donations may be made to JVS Toronto, Caritas, Our Lady Queen of Croatia Church, or the charity of your choice, in Štefica's memory.