June 15, 2005
With these prophetic words from Holy Scripture, the Hieromonk Terry Kraychuk addressed the pilgrims and faithful at the Mother of God Monastery in Orangeville, Ontario, regarding the prospects of safeguarding the monastery from foreclosure by its previous owners, the Cistercians. The latter had formally advised the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto of this intention, if a substantial payment of the debt of two million dollars was not forwarded to them by April 15 th of this year. The urgent appeal for funding, initiated by the Monastery Committee, generated $315,000 in donations and pledges over the span of a few weeks, but only $100,000 was actually available as the deadline approached. In addition, the blessing of Patriarch Lubomyr for the incorporation of the monastery as an independent charitable institution was still awaiting the final decision from the Studites in Ukraine, who were to supplement the small existing community with new members. And so, from the purely human perspective, the situation looked quite bleak. "Unless the Lord builds the house, … " declared Fr. Terry.
Numerous Divine Liturgies had been offered for the intentions of the monastery and, backed by the fervent prayers of many, a small delegation – consisting of Fr. Terry (the Superior), Fr Peter Babej (Chairman of the Monastery Committee) and Petro Humennyj (Monastery Treasurer) – left to meet with the Cistercian monks in Oka, Quebec.
It was on route to this critical meeting that the air of uncertainty was unexpectedly dissipated by the Lord, and replaced by a prevailing sense of spiritual peace, silently echoing the famous words of the former Pope - John Paul II: "Be not afraid!" Many little signs ensued and, in no time, doubt gave way to unwavering faith.
The pilgrims from Orangeville were very well received by the Cistercians, represented by their Abbot Yvon-Joseph Moreau and Fr. John Doutre, the former superior of the monastery in Orangeville. Seeing the evidence of the effort made in the financial campaign to preserve the monastery and the sincerity of the Ukrainian delegation, Abbot Moreau not only approved a new proposal for the payment of the existing debt, but also forgave the mortgage that was unpaid since August 2004! Furthermore, he liquidated the interest on all future payments, stipulating that all monies will be applied directly to the principle owing ($2,000,000). The true value of the monastery, including all its territory and outbuildings, is estimated between four and seven million dollars – this not taking into account the immeasurable spiritual value of God's blessings and graces that flow from its prayer life onto the whole Church, to our Ukrainian parishes and onto all the faithful. Abbot Moreau also expressed his delight that the monastery shall be preserved spiritually as a sanctuary of the Mother of God which, he ascertained, "has been a true light of God's love and hope for a searching world." The hand of the Lord had once again wondrously manifested itself concerning His Mother's House, as if to say: "A city on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house." (Mt. 5:15)
Hence, thanks to the Lord's intervention, the Mother of God Monastery has crossed the first, and perhaps the most dangerous of obstacles on the new path of its realization. In a letter dated April 25 th, the Cistercian Conventional Chapter officially revoked its threat of foreclosure, and endorsed the new proposal for debt payment. According to the new, much more flexible arrangement, the next installment of four to five hundred thousand dollars is expected after the end of June, and the balance of 1.4 million – by September 30 th, 2005. Without a doubt, this is still a most admirable challenge, but bolstered anew by the certainty of God's will, we press forward with much greater conviction in the successful completion of this venerable project.
The appeal for funding continues, therefore, to secure full ownership of the monastery! We go forth in prayer as "Torches of Hope", relying on God's continued providence and guidance in all things. With the blessing of Bishop Stephen Chmilar, a special appeal is being addressed to all Ukrainian parishes in the Eparchy of Toronto to conduct a one-time collection for the monastery. Similarly, we turn to all Ukrainian Catholic Bishops across this country that cherish monastic life, to help us to secure a brighter future for our Eastern-rite Church in Canada. In the words of Patriarch Josyf Slipyj: "A faithful and strong monasticism is, for every nation, a great gift of God!"
As part of these fundraising efforts, we are appealing as well to the Ukrainian business community, to corporations and to professionals, who have proven to be ardent benefactors in many worthwhile charitable endeavours in the past, that have benefited the Ukrainian community in Canada. We seek your invaluable input, be it in the form of donations, low-interest loans or even helpful information and counsel.
The members of the Monastery Committee – Fr. Terry Kraychuk, Fr. Peter Babej, Fr. John Tataryn and Fr. Roman Galadza – are working with great dedication and sacrifice to establish and preserve Eastern monastic life in Canada, so that the Ukrainian culture and heritage may be enhanced and preserved through a return to our spiritual roots. Hieromonk and lawyer, Fr. Richard Soo S.J., presently serving as chancellor to Metropolitan Michael Bzdel in Winnipeg, is a great proponent of Eastern monasticism, and has agreed to conduct the incorporation process for the Orangeville Monastery. These holy priests of great vision most certainly deserve the moral and financial support of the whole of the Ukrainian community.
As usual, all benefactors of the monastery remain in perpetuity in the liturgical prayers of the monastic community. As well, all donations from $25 are tax deductible.
The Lord is building the House of His Most Blessed Mother! We extend a most sincere and heartfelt thank you to all previous donors who, through their prayers and financial support, have helped to preserve the Monastery through its greatest trial. May you be especially blessed by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and may you continue to be co-builders of His Kingdom at this time of great confusion and spiritual turmoil in our society and in the world at large.
Glory be to Jesus Christ! – Glory Forever!