Renata Maria Olearchyk (nee) Sharan was born in Lviv, Ukraine on October 2, 1943 to Stephania (nee Khemych) and Marian Sharan. With the onslaught of the Nazis and Soviets, Stephania and Marian fled their homeland with baby Renata in hand. They ended up in a displaced persons camp in Berchtesgaden Bavaria, Germany. They came to the United States in 1949 and eventually settled in Philadelphia, PA. The family initially lived near the Ukrainian Cathedral in downtown Philadelphia. Renata attended St. Basil elementary school located, at that time, near the Cathedral. Later she attended the newly built Ukrainian Parochial School at the Ukrainian Cathedral on Franklin Street. The family then moved to the Logan section and Renata attended Little Flower High School in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia.
Renata’s father was employed at Philadelphia City Hall, initially as an elevator operator and later as a draftsman. Through the auspices of then Mayor Frank Rizzo, Marian befriended Philip Klein (1906-1982), owner of the “Jewish Times" (published, 1925-1968) in Philadelphia, PA. They would see each other in the elevator very often. One day, Marian appeared a bit sad to his friend. So the man asked, “Marian what’s wrong?” Marian explained that his daughter, Renata got accepted to the prestigious University of Pennsylvania but that he had no money to pay for it. The man asked Marian to bring Renata to meet with him. After meeting with Renata, the man saw such great potential in her that he offered to pay for her education at the University of Pennsylvania. Every year Renata would show him her report card and list her achievements. With each successful year he funded the next. In 1965, Renata graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Immediately after graduation, Renata and her parents returned to the man offering part of the money back and looking to make arrangements to pay for the rest. The man responded, “Renata’s successful graduation is payment enough for me.” With that he ripped the contract, saying to Renata. “Pay it forward. I only ask that in time, when you are able, you help a student in need.” In time, Renata did just that. She loyally and annually sent money to Little Flower, St. Basil, University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University where she eventually received her Master’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology in 1967. She began working diligently towards her PhD. Renata became one of the first few Ukrainians and one of the first women at the time to attend the University of Pennsylvania and the prestigious Brown University.
While working on her PhD dissertation, Renata met Dr. Andrew S. Olearchyk, a Ukrainian surgeon who had recently arrived to the U.S. from Poland. The two were eventually married on June 26, 1971 in Philadelphia, PA. Renata was thrilled to get a job working as a Professor of Sociology at Marywood College in Scranton, PA. A short time later, Renata was honored when her Master’s dissertation entitled “Types of Ethnic Identification and Generational Position: A Study of the Ukrainian Immigrant Community in the U.S.A.” was published by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.
The couple relocated back to Philadelphia to start a family. On September 15, 1972, Renata gave birth to their first child, Christina Nadia Olearchyk-Zalipsky. On June 12, 1974, their second child, Roman Andrew Olearchyk arrived. Then on May 27, 1976, Adrian Stephan Olearchyk came into the world. In a conscientious effort to help and support Andrew as he pursued the various fellowships, certifications, licenses and residencies required for becoming a full-fledged cardio-vascular and thoracic surgeon the family relocated; and, was even separated several times. They traveled from Philadelphia to Charlotte, N.C., to Pittsburgh, PA, and then back to Philadelphia, PA. Finally the family permanently settled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Once in New Jersey, Renata formally reshifted her professional life to helping her husband build and expand his practice. She would manage his various offices, handle all of the administrative affairs and reach out to help all of his patients.
Renata was first and foremost a mother – a mother who devoted 100% of herself to all three of her children. She helped them with everything and anything. She honesty devoted her entire life to helping her three children succeed and fulfill their dreams-whatever they may have been at the time. Renata was a very, very religious and spiritual person. She was kind, loving and a remarkably gentle soul who never ever had an unkind word to say about anyone. She loved to draw, read books and play the piano. She wholeheartedly loved her Ukrainian heritage and culture. She instilled that love in her children and grandchildren.
Renata was a member of PLAST and the Ukrainian Music Institute during her earlier years. She later became a member of CYM (the Ukrainian Youth Association). She taught at the old Ukrainian School on Tabor Road and at the new Ukrainian School on Cedar Road in Jenkintown PA. Renata gave lectures at CYM gatherings and worked as an instructor at CYM summer camps for a few years. Renata fulfilled her lifetime dream of returning to her ancestral homeland in 1988 by traveling to Ukraine with Christina. She was blessed to reunite with her long lost and beloved family in Lviv, Mykolaiv, and Ivano-Frankivsk. Renata later returned to Ukraine in 1990 with Andrew, Christina, Roman and Adrian. Indeed, she made several trips back to her ancestral homeland. Renata was thrilled that all three children found Ukrainian spouses. This made Renata extremely happy. She was so very happy with and proud of her ten grandchildren Yulia, Sophia, Melania, Ivanka, Gregory, Victoria, David, Gabriel, Romanna and the late Maria Elizabeth.
As a grandmother and older now, Renata still gave 100% of herself to her children and grandchildren. Renata helped Christina and Ihor care their children Sophia, Melania and Victoria with all of her strength until a tragic fall on May 1, 2018. Even as she lay bedridden and paralyzed, Renata expressed to Christina how sad she was that she was not able to help her. She worried about everyone else - even in that state. She worried about her husband, Andrew Olearchyk. She worried about Christina and her husband, Ihor Zalipsky. Renata worried about Roman and his wife Ulyana Krupa. She worried about Adrian and his wife, Annya Stefanyshyn. And most of all, she worried about all of the grandchildren. As if she hadn’t done enough. What a selfless soul she was with a heart of the purest of gold. Renata Maria Olearchyk was to her family and to everyone who knew her ‘a saint on earth.’ May the Lord in heaven receive her soul and give her peace and everlasting life. May she find comfort by joining our Lord, the Holy Family, her parents Marian and Stephania, with her granddaughter Maria Elizabeth Olearchyk, as well as her extended family and friends already at peace in the Heavens above. And may our beloved American soil warmly embrace this humble Ukrainian-American Servant of God. Vichnaya Pamyat! Memory Eternal!
Renata's viewing will be held on Friday at 9:30 AM at St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church, Jenkintown, PA. Requiem Liturgy will be celebrated at 11 AM. Burial will follow at St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, Elkins Park, PA.
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Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center
700 Cedar Road, Jenkintown PA 19046
Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble
700 N. Cedar Road, Jenkintown PA 19046
Voloshky School of Ukrainian Dance
700 Cedar Road, Jenkintown PA 19046
St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church
1013 Fox Chase Road, Jenkintown PA 19046