Bernice Irene Olinyk, age 96 years of Rainy River, died peacefully at the Rainy River Hospital on the early evening of Friday, June 4, 2021. She spent the day she passed with her two sons, Dennis and Billy.
She also spent time with her parish priest, Father Thomas, who administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
Mom received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist daily before she died.
She suffered a stroke at home a week earlier and was unable to recover from it.
She lived a long and fruitful life and her children and family thank God for giving her to them.
Although there is much sorrow, there is also a much greater peace. She lived a full life. She taught her family and others how to live by her example.
Mom was born on April 3, 1925 at Sleeman, Ontario. She was one of eleven children born to William James and Queenie Emma Rattigan.
She had five sisters; Catherine, Clare, Mary, Gladys and Eunice along with five brothers; Jack, Bud, Wilfred, Bill and Gene. A set of twins died at child birth. All of her family have passed on, except for her sister Clare who lives in Ottawa.
She attended a one room school in Sleeman before going to high school in Fort Frances. After finishing school she went to work at the bank (CIBC) in Fort Frances and later in Rainy River where she would meet her future husband Clarence.
She married dad on October 10, 1949. They raised a family of five children; Cheryl, Dennis, Teresa, Billy and Mary. She raised her children with great love and affection that only a caring and compassionate mother could do and often going without herself.
That same love and tenderness continued with her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her life was centred on God, Church and family.
She was a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Woman’s League for more than 68 years where she helped to perform many acts of charity.
She was a member of the local Royal Canadian Legion, the Silver Star Mother for many years, an honour passed on to her from her mother. She experienced the price that so many paid for our freedom.
Her dedication to family continued throughout her whole life, right up to the time of her passing.
She was there for her mother and her brothers Bud and Jack when they were in failing health. She was the one who would cook the meals, wash the clothes, and clean the house when they couldn’t. She was there for her husband when he was battling two bouts of cancer.
With the historical knowledge she had of our parish she was only too happy to help when it came to know who to call to represent a deceased parish member being commemorated at the annual parish Memorial Mass celebrated on the Feast of All Souls Day.
She was there to organize and put on the many family gatherings such as Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, family-reunions, and the list goes on. She did it all, and, she did it well.
She reminisced about her early childhood memories including attending Mass and catechism class at Pinewood, going on sleigh rides, skating on the village rink, playing ball at the “Old Sleeman place,” boating and swimming on the Rainy River, and listening to the barn dance music on the radio Saturday nights at the family home where Grandma Rattigan would invite the neighbours over and later have a little snack before going home.
She remembered, only too well, when the war broke out and three of her brothers went overseas to fight. Bud and Jack came back home but Wilfred didn’t.
And, before that, she lived to experience the Great Depression when there was more “have not” than “have.”
Mom lived a life where she saw and experienced great change. She lived during a time when there was still horse and buggy, when there was no electricity, no in-door plumbing, no washing or drying machines, a time when there were no paved roads to drive to the hospital for child birth.
She experienced a time when life was much simpler than it is today.
Although she experienced change, there were some constants, they were things that existed then and still exist today. Things like love, compassion, faithfulness, kindness, generosity, caring and sacrifice. These things mom never let go of. She held fast to them on this side of heaven and carried them with her to where she is now, with her best friend, Jesus Himself. Amen!!!
Due to COVID regulations a small private mass by invitation only will be held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Rainy River on Friday, June 11, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.
Funeral Arrangements entrusted to Northridge Funeral Home in Emo, Ont.