Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Pascha — the Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has bathed all of creation in a new light, initiating a new spring and new hope. A year ago, May 2023, Divine Providence guided me to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Cudworth. Anyone who has stood at the foot of the altar and cross on that hallowed hill immediately knows that this is a sacred place where Lady pours out an abundance of graces upon all who come with a humble and contrite heart. For over a century, the faithful have visited this pilgrimage site with love and confidence that Our Lady will hear their prayers and intercede on their behalf. On June 11, 2023, I was blessed to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrow (Praznyk) on the Hill for my first time. Effective August 1, 2023, the Eparchical Administrator, Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, bestowed upon me and the Monastery of the Three Holy Hierarchs pastoral care over the Cudworth Shrine. This year the pilgrimage celebrations are scheduled to take place on June 15 and 16, 2024 as hosted and organized by the Monastery of the Three Holy Hierarchs in conjunction with the Shrine pilgrimage planning committee.

With the extended absence of a bishop in the Saskatoon Eparchy, it was impossible to move forward with any concrete plans. On January 21, 2024, the Eparchy experienced the joy- filled consecration of our new bishop His Excellency Michael Smolinski by Patriarch Sviatoslav Shewchuk. During his sojourn in Saskatoon, I had a chance to speak at length with Patriarch Sviatoslav, a classmate at the Angelicum in Rome where we studied, about our monastery’s growth and vision.

March 1, I was able to meet with Bishop Micheal to discuss the future development of a monastic community at the Cudworth Shrine. Bishop Michael welcomed and blessed this pious initiative – the building of a monastery on the grounds of the Shrine at Cudworth, which will, among other things, protect and care for the Hill of Sorrows and welcome pilgrims.

On March 27, I had discussions with the design-build manager and on April 8 I had a meeting with an architect about preliminary designs and drawings. Hopefully, by the time of the Shrine’s Praznyk in mid-June sketches of our vision can be presented to the wider public.

Why a monastery at the Shrine in Cudworth? First and foremost, to renew this important Marian pilgrimage site at a time when it is most needed. Our Lady of Sorrows is inviting us, her children, to bring to Her our sorrows and suffering. Our Mother is not indifferent to our anxieties and woundedness. She wants to heal us. She wants to restore in us the ikon of Her Son in which we were created but have become shattered and fragmented through sin and misfortune. Lady Wisdom wants to construct a house of refuge for Her beloved children: “Wisdom has built her house… Whoever is simple, let them turn in here!” (Proverbs 9: 1 and 4).

Mary wants to form new vocations. The monastery will serve as a house of formation for both monastics and laypersons. The monastic rule (typikon) of the Three Holy Hierarchs was established by Bishop Bryan Bayda in the Eparchy of Saskatoon on October 8, 2010. The charism of our monastic community is contemplative prayer, supporting itself by preaching and teaching. After a decade, Bishop Bryan was encouraged by the rule’s hidden life of prayer, after Mary’s example, and the ministries which flowed from that wellspring of the contemplative life into the Eparchy: faith formation, scripture study, spiritual direction, deliverance and healing prayers, preaching of missions and retreats, teaching in homeschooling supplemental programs, and publishing. Thus, on March 10, 2020, Bishop Bryan opened the monastery to future expansion by taking on new vocations and exploring new frontiers within and beyond the Eparchy of Saskatoon. With the blessing of Bishop Bryan, the monastery was incorporated on April 7, 2022. Its board of directors are Hieromonk Gregory Hrynkiw, Adrian Olenick, Yurij and Bernadette Popowych, Marusia MacKinnon (Kobrynsky), Mitchell Smith, and Sally Read.

Why is the Shrine in Cudworth a great location for this type of monastic community? Monastic communities have always sought to be under the mantle of the Mother of God’s holy protection. A prayer partner of our monastery, Mother Cecilia, the new Heguman (Superior) of the Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Ohio, warned that the devil out of envy will strive to undermine and slander such a devout endeavour. Be not afraid, however, Mary will crush his head!

Moreover, the Shrine at Cudworth is easily accessible from Saskatoon (90 km) and close to the communities of Humboldt, Wakaw, Bruno, Prudhomme, and Vonda. The surrounding area is peppered with parish communities of both the Ukrainian Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches, where there are still many faithful in the area with a reduced sacerdotal presence. As a monastic community, we do not take on parish work. Sunday and Holy Day obligations, however, can be fulfilled by attending the liturgical rites at the monastery. We plan to have a robust liturgical life with the celebration of the Divine Office (Vespers, Matins, etc.) and the Divine Liturgy open to the faithful. A monastic community creates a new centre of life, an active vitalizing force within the Eparchy and the Church at large.

This is just a spiritual appetizer for you to savour and pray over. In vain do the labourers toil unless Lady Wisdom constructs Her house! All is in Her hands. Spread the word! See you on the Hill on June 15 to 16, 2024. Look for the posters with the Praznyk schedule.

In the heart of the Church,

Hieromonk Gregory Hrynkiw