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Maria (Wawa) Iwanna Baczynskyj
December 26, 2023
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After a lengthy illness, Wawa passed away on December 26, 2023.
Wawa was born in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of Ukrainian World War II refugees, her father an Auschwitz survivor. Arriving in the US in 1948, she grew up in Philadelphia. Wawa participated in the Ukrainian American community throughout her life, as an active member of PLAST Ukrainian Scouting Organization, and the Federation of Ukrainian Student Organizations of America (SUSTA). One of her favorite pastimes was telling animated stories at Plastovi vatry.
Wawa attended University of Pennsylvania (1968), went on to attain a Master’s Degree in German at Tufts University (1969) and a second Master’s Degree in Social Work at Smith College (1979). For many years she lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts devotedly working at Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI). She dedicated herself to helping Indo Chinese refugees and other immigrants with trauma. In between, she taught German. In Cambridge, her home was always open to hosting Harvard Ukrainian Summer Program students and dissidents from Ukraine as well as helping families with children affected by the Chornobyl disaster.
In 2003 she moved to Ukraine after being awarded a Fulbright scholarship to conduct a pilot project in social work at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv. Following this, she joined the faculty of the UCU, and also lectured at the Lviv Polytechnic University. She spent the next 14 years in Ukraine working as a social worker, faculty member, lecturer, trainer, and translator, as well as monitoring Ukrainian media on behalf of international broadcasters. She worked supporting Ukrainian soldiers who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the Russian invasion of 2014.
Wawa was an outgoing personality who cared deeply about people, and valued the many close friendships she made throughout her life.
Wawa was predeceased by her brother Boris, and is survived by her sister Ulana, brother-in-law Roman, sister-in-law Zwen, and many other grieving family members and friends, here and in Ukraine.
Visitation will be held at 12 noon, and Funeral Services at 1pm, on December 30, 2023 at St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church at 1013 Fox Chase Road, Jenkintown PA 19046. Internment will be private.
May she rest in eternal peace.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Wawa Maria Baczynskyj to: