to the Most Rev. Stephen Chmilar, D.D.
Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada

RE: The concealed sale of the MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD MONASTERY !

June 12, 2006

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Dear Bishop Stephen,

We, the faithful benefactors and supporters of the Mother of God Monastery in Orangeville, Ontario, are forced once more to resort to an open letter to Your Grace, inasmuch as we still have not received an official response in writing to our previously expressed concerns.

As a consequence of our two-day prayer vigil in front of the Eparchial Chancellery, we received an invitation to meet with Your Grace, on condition that the peaceful prayer vigil be terminated. The meeting took place on May 30 th , 2006, and was led by Mr. Don Onyschuk, the Vice-Chancellor.

We remind Your Grace the main points from the meeting:

  1. Mr. Don Onyschuk presented an overview of the financial problems of the Eparchy, none of which are related to the Monastery.
  2. Mr. Don Onyschuk acknowledged that the Eparchy has been negotiating the sale of the Monastery to a buyer for the sum of 5.3 million dollars , asserting that the main reason for the sale is the imminent danger that a creditor threatens to put a lean on the Monastery property, in order to cover the outstanding debts of the Eparchy.
  3. In response, we, as representatives of the benefactors of the Monastery, presented a concrete proposal to safeguard the Sanctuary. If the Eparchy agrees to relinquish its title to the Monastery property to a newly formed charitable corporation of benefactors, named the "Community of the Most Holy Theotokos", then we will undertake to cover the mortgage payments still owed to the Cistercian monks, as well as continue to support the operational costs of the Monastery. At this time, a copy of the proposed constitution of the "Community of the Most Holy Theotokos" was presented to Your Grace.
  4. The Vice-Chancellor declared that an immediate decision was not possible on this proposition, and Your Grace promised to call a meeting of the Eparchial Consulters within the next week to examine our proposal.

As far as we are aware, no such meeting of the Consulters has been called. We are also perturbed by the discovery that 3 out of 12 Eparchial Consulters have resigned, two within the last week, including the Vicar General of the Toronto Eparchy.

We emphasize once again, that the Eparchy does not enjoy the moral right to sell the Monastery unilaterally, much less secretly, and is in fact in violation of the guidelines set by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for the sale of church property, as determined by Canon Law.

The Cistercian monks sold the Monastery to the Eparchy for a fraction of its market value, at $ 2.2 million dollars, of which $ 1.8 is still owing, with the explicit understanding that it is to be maintained as a Christian sanctuary. Since its acquisition in 1999, the only direct financial input of the Eparchy has been $ 45 000 at the very beginning, in order to cover the land transfer tax. On the other hand, the actual costs of operating the monastery, approximately $ 150 000 annually , as well as last year's Emergency Fundraising to save it from re-possession - $ 250 000 were all donated by the benefactors.

Most certainly, no monetary amount can assess the immense spiritual value of the Mother of God Monastery to the Eparchy, as well as for the whole Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada. Sadly, we are constantly left with the impression that Your Grace has no interest in the development of monastic life in the Eparchy, giving but token support to related parochial projects.

We ask, therefore, once again, that Your Grace accept our committed proposal for the preservation of this active Marian Sanctuary, so that with God's help and guidance, a new era of development of monastic life in the Eparchy may commence. We await a clear response to our proposal in writing in the very immediate future. Please send it to the following address:

Mother of God Monastery
953376 -7 th line R.R.5
Hockley Heights , Orangeville , ON , L9W 2Z2

With faith, hope and love,
The faithful and benefactors of the Mother of God Monastery ,
Representatives: Vasyl Shafransky, Roman Zubrytsky, Andrei Jmourko


His Excellency Luigi Ventura
Papal Nuncio

His Beatitude Archbishop Lubomyr Husar

Most Reverend Hlib Lonchyna
Delegate to the Apostolic See in Rome

His Grace Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, OSBM
Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada

Most Reverend David Motiuk Auxiliary Bishop

His Grace Most Reverend Michael Bzdel
Metropolitan Emeritus

Most Reverend Michael Wiwchar, C.S.S.R.
Bishop, Eparchy of Saskatoon

Most Reverend Severian Yakymyshym, OSBM
Bishop, Eparchy of New Westminster

Very Reverend William Hupalo
Eparchial Administrator of Edmonton

Most Reverend Cornelius J. Pasichny, OSBM
Eparch Emeritus of Toronto

Right Reverend John Tataryn Vicar General
Eparchy of Toronto

Right Reverend Roman Galadza

Reverend Peter Babej

Reverend Richard Soo, S.J.
Chancellor, Archeparchy of Winnipeg

Abbaye Cistercienne d'Oka
Dom Yvon Joseph Moreau, Abbot

Univ Lavra Studite Fathers
Hieromonk Benedict Aleksijchuk - Hegumen

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