Maria Komisar ever the optimist even at 100

By  Sara Loftson, The Catholic Register
  • October 24, 2006

Maria KomisarTORONTO - A handful of women huddled together after , whispering: “she looks so good for her age.”

Dolled up in a black jumper and a matching pearl necklace and earring set with barely a wrinkle on her face, Maria Komisar celebrated her 100th birthday on Oct. 17 with 85 seniors who offered Mass for her special day.

The group of seniors belong to Merrymakers, a parish club that meets once a month for Mass, to share a meal, socialize and celebrate birthdays.

“I never think about my age,” said Komisar in a thick Ukrainian accent, responding to how it feels to turn 100. “I was serious and responsible in my life for everything.”

Komisar, who turned 100 on Oct. 14, was the first centennial birthday for the group. Wesley Hosick celebrated his 90th birthday as well.

“It’s an opportunity for seniors to get together because a lot of these seniors don’t get a lot of social interaction,” said Merrymakers director Brother Kevin Goss, SA.

Nine years ago the club started with three volunteers and two dozen seniors. Now it averages around 80 people.

Born in Ukraine, Komisar later studied in Poland to become a pharmacist and travelled around Germany and Austria among other countries before emigrating to Canada in 1948. After the death of her first husband 35 years ago, she remarried, but her second husband has also since passed away. She has plenty of family in Toronto, but no children.

A Ukrainian Catholic, both Komisar’s father and grandfather were Ukrainian Orthodox priests.

Until Komisar fell and broke her hip last winter she lived independently, taking the subway alone and attending Mass two to three times per week.

Doctors said she wouldn’t walk again, but the determined centenarian did. Now she uses a cane and has moved from a seniors’ complex beside the parish into St. Hilda’s Retirement Home where she receives some home care assistance.

Komisar received birthday wishes from Queen Elizabeth, Governor General Michaelle Jean and Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, archbishop of the archdiocese of Toronto.

Goss said it’s especially important to recognize birthdays of the elderly.

“It’s important to acknowledge the wisdom they’ve gathered. It gives an opportunity to congratulate and reverence each other.”

Komisar has some of her own wisdom to pass along.

“Be optimistic. Do always good to others and see good in others. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be only me, me, me.”

Elsewhere, Elizabeth Mooney of Guelph, Ont., just celebrated her 107th birthday in September. A devout Catholic, she has raised nine children and has 38 grandchildren. She lived independently until the age of 105 when she moved into St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre in Guelph.

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