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Resourceful ‘go to’ person who cared for all


Sr Elisabeth (Lis) Dmytryk rsj (born September 5 1946, died January 18 2024)

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Elisabeth, the eldest of six children, was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1946. Her mother, born in Poland, and her father, born in Ukraine, became displaced persons in Germany during World War II.

They were eventually transported to Australia to a migrant hostel in Melbourne in 1950 and then set about forging a new life in Australia with two small children, Elisabeth, 4, and Stephania, 2.

Lis, Stephania and their Australian-born siblings were educated by the Sisters of St Joseph at St Albans and Lis entered the Josephite convent at Hawthorn East in Victoria on February 2 1974.

By then Lis was already an experienced acetylene welder, spray painter and press operator and had become a manager at her place of work. A few years later Lis became a qualified boiler maker.

Lis was professed on January 6 1977 and began her 13 years of ministry in Victoria in child care, education and hospitality, first at St Anthony’s in Footscray and then in Carlton, Yarraville, Nhill and Hawthorn East. Lis also gained library qualifications and worked in the Catholic Education Office library in the Sale Diocese. Later she gained a graduate diploma in Educational Administration.

In 1990 Lis moved to South Australia to take up the Josephite ministry of caring for the priests and seminarians at Rostrevor.

Lis was soon appointed the position of manager, responsible for the administration and general maintenance of the seminary.

Priests and seminarians alike valued and respected Lis for her generosity, hard work, resourcefulness, problem solving abilities and especially for her quiet wisdom and care for every person.

A former seminarian who concelebrated at her funeral Eucharist expressed it in this way: ‘Sr Lis made the seminary a home for us’.

When the seminary closed in 1998 these same skills and qualities were appreciated by the Sisters as Lis became the Province and Regional property and maintenance person, the ‘go to’ person for all kinds of problems and assistance in all kinds of situations.

She formed excellent partnerships and working relationships and made many lasting friendships with her colleagues and with the Sisters.

Over the last few years Lis faced major surgery and periods of intensive chemotherapy with courage and deep faith. She spent her last months resting in her unit and then at Kensington when she needed more support. Her quiet presence and gentle smile gifted everyone in the community. Her dignity in suffering was an inspiration every day.

Lis died peacefully in the Mary Potter Hospice at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide.

Her life was celebrated and honoured on February 2, 50 years to the very day that she left home to enter the convent.

Her brother Joseph and her sisters Maria and Stephania and Maria’s husband Henry travelled from Victoria to join the Sisters in a joyful Eucharist in the Kensington chapel while her niece and nephews and their children joined online from Victoria.

The Irish author and poet, Daniel O’Leary, wrote in the year before his own death in January 2020, ‘I know there is something beautiful waiting for me’. Lis also knew that her loving God was waiting for her and she was at peace.

In St Joseph’s care we leave you, dear Elisabeth.

– Pauline Morgan rsj


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