Marian Shrine of Gratitude


(Marian Shrine at the Basilian Monastery in Toronto - concise translation)


The Basilian Monastery (Ukrainian Fathers) is located in the north end of Toronto, where the wealthy Gardener family once had their summer resort. This property was purchased by the Basilian Order in 1958 as the future site of their school, St.-Basil-the-Great College.

In the 1930's the Gardener family had built a large stone swimming pool which was used by the school in the sixties.



In 1999, a new and larger school was built by the Catholic School Board to replace the original school that had become far too small for the needs of the community. The original Basilian Fathers school building is now leased to the City of Toronto as a community center. The fore-mentioned swimming pool was sub-sequentially closed and filled with earth. Only the stone walls and the concrete stairs, leading up to the monastery remain.

On the 4th of October, 2004, I was doing some work in the area of the former pool. I was clearing some dry bushed and as I tossed a dry branch on a pile, a sharp end of that branch suddenly ricocheted and struck me in my right eye, piercing my eyeball. The pain was excruciating but miraculously my sight was unaffected. At that same moment I felt the presence and protection of Our Blessed Heavenly Mother.

Two days later 1 happened to drive another priest to see the doctor. He noticed my injured eye and examined it carefully. Then he declared: "It is a miracle that you are able to see." This doctor, Ihor Popadynec, immediately sent me to an opthomological clinic. There, the eye specialist, Dr. Matthew Boеrmans, examined the eye and also declared that it was a miracle that I had not lost my vision.

Had even a speck of dust remained in the eye after the injury, the resulting infection could have led to blindness. This did not happen. The eye doctor concluded that my eye was healthy and my distance vision had actually improved. Within two days all signs of the injury vanished.

Here I need to mention that for over ten years I required glasses for driving, but since the incident, my eyesight improved. I understood that God had miraculously saved my eyesight perhaps that I might continue editing the periodical "SVITLO". For saving my vision, I made a public statement of gratitude to Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary in "Svitlo" (no. 979) in November, 2004.

I continue to thank the Mother of God for saving my sight as well as for the restoration of my distance vision, to the degree that I no longer require glasses when driving.

The incident with my eye occurred the same week the International Eucharistic Congress was taking place in Mexico and where the YEAF OF THE EUCHARIST was officially opened.



Although the afore-mentioned swimming pool had been filled with soil, the stone structure surrounding the pool area remained intact after 80 years.

In June of this year (2005) I conceived the ideas of placing a small statue of the Mother of God in a niche   of the stone structure, as an act of gratitude for the miraculous saving of my vision.

Father Myron Chimy, the Superior, readily approved of my idea. Father Boniface Malowany gave me a list of suppliers in the GTA that sell religious statues. Father Myron accompanied me in my search for a statue. But before we left I visited our chapel and asked the Mother of God to choose the statue she wishes placed in the area of the pool structure.

After visiting a few stores without success, we came to an outlet called "The Smith Monument". Moments after our arrival we saw a beautiful meter-high statue of the Immaculate Conception. It was made of white marble, imported from Italy. Instantly, we both knew that our quest was over. Two days later. Father Boniface, fr. Myron and I brought the statue home.



Having acquired a statue of far larger proportions than I had originally planned, my initial idea of a small statue had changed. Now we required the services of an accomplished mason who would erect a suitable pedestal for the statue.

1 immediately thought of Stanley Sokolyk, who lives in the parish residence of St. Basil's church on Vaughan Road. When I spoke to him, I was elated by his reaction.  "Although I am not a professional mason, tomorrow I will come by after work and see what we can do”. The next day Stanley duly arrived and we began planning. Our work was mostly spontaneous. In the next few days we visited a number of outlets that sold rocks that we needed for the pedestal. We found nothing we liked. The stones we sought we actually found a few meters away in a room adjacent to the swimming pool. There stood a collection of rocks that had been collected by Fr. Cyril and his geology classes of years past. We sorted through this collection and found what we needed.

All summer long, Stanley would arrive after work and the project slowly took shape.



With the statue now finally in place, it occurred to me that it would be appropriate to somehow mark the year of the Holy Eucharist in this project.

That week I happened to be visiting our monastery in Grimsby which was at that time in the process of being closed. There I found a metallic icon of the Last Supper.   Placed on the pedestal, it would


Finally, it seemed appropriate to incorporate a crucifix in the pedestal. There was just the right cross in my room, an artistic multi-colored stone crucifix. The cross had been a gift to the former editor of "SVITLO", Father Orest Kupranec. With my Superior's blessing the crosses, incorporated into the Shrine.



When we were anchoring the statue to the stone pedestal, we required some suitable iron rope for that purpose. While walking along the street, I noticed some discarded iron that exactly filled our need.

At another time, we had run short of a rare yellow rock that we used to decorate the pedestal. This was a new worry for me. But again, shortly after, we noticed the exact quality and color-texture of rock not far from the garden where we were working.

At the time we had anchored the statue in place, a neighbour appeared. His name was Jose Molina and he said: "I've been observing your work. Your shrine will require some spotlights. I will provide them for you, if you wish."   He was as good as his word. In a few days we had four powerful spotlights in place.

The work of the Shrine is completed, and to all who come here, it imparts a special serenity. The neighbours deem this shrine to be a sign of God's blessings for this area. Parishioners from St.-Basil-the-Great church have visited the Shrine twice, celebrating the MOLEBEN to the Mother of God.

On the feast of the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary the entire community of Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate, in Toronto, made a pilgrimage to the Shrine. Two priests celebrated a Service in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.



The first visitors to the Shrine were three women from three different churches in Toronto. One was from St. Josaphat's Cathedral, one from Holy Eucharist and one from St. Nicholas" parish.

Before beginning to pray the Rosary, the priest asked that each of the pilgrims make a special intention. One woman (M.D.) prayed for her daughter, who had not called or visited for a long time. A few minutes after reciting the rosary, her cell phone rang. It was her daughter. This caused quite a stir. It was the first grace granted at the Shrine.



Such were some of the unusual occurrences during the building of this Shrine. I believe that these were not mere coincidences. Our Heavenly Mother wanted this Shrine built.

We live in a secular society that excludes God from public life. Pope Benedict XVI protested strongly against this secularization. In 2005, on the Feast of the Assumption, he requested that society make room for God in both the private and public sectors. The Pope quoted the prayer: "My soul magnifies the Greatness of the Lord." The whole world must proclaim his greatness.

"When God is omitted from peoples' lives", said the Pope, "they do not become greater, but rather lose their dignity as His children. The Pope asks that the crucifix be displayed in public buildings, to show God's presence everywhere.

I believe that the rapid emergence of the Shrine of Gratitude at Weston is a sign of the Blessed Mother's desire to have a public Place where her Son can be worshiped. From this Shrine she calls people to "Do whatever He tells you", and "Blessed are those who listen to the word of God and fulfill His will"


Fr. Basyl Orestes Cembalista, OSBM




History: The “Marian Monument of Gratitude”, is located by the Basilian Fathers monastery in Weston, Toronto. It was built in 2005 as a gratitude to the Mother of God, who saved father Basil Cembalista`s eye.

On October 4th 2004 as Father Basil was cleaning some dry scrubs, his eye was seriously wounded by a sharp small dry branch. After his invocation: “Mother of God saves my eye”, the injured eye not only wasn’t damaged, but from this moment father’s vision improved to the point that he did not to wear glasses anymore.

The building of the monument came about spontaneously without much planning.  By word of mouth, it immediately it attracted many local people, who came at this monument. It is reported that six miraculous healings took place and special graces were obtained through the intercession of the Mother of God.

Marian Monument of Gratitude is open every day to all who want to spend some time individually or as a group in prayer or meditation in this peaceful Marian Garden. At this Monument, every Sunday in month of May to October, Moleben to the Mother of God is celebrated and the rosary is recited at 6:00 P.M.



Most holy and blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother! To you we turn and pray. You, who never have forsaken us, give us your maternal hand in this time of need and sorrow.

We believe and acknowledge that You are the miraculous guardian of the lost, the suffering and the sorrowing. Hence, we place our hope in You.  Help us sinners in our need.

Before you, Blessed Mother, we place all our affairs and offer our suffering and troubles to Our Lord for the forgiveness of our sins, for our nation and our families.

Merciful Mother, Safest Harbor of all sinners, place us under your patronage and direct our attentions for our salvation and Your glory. Amen.


Marian Shrine of Gratitude

Monastery of St. Gregory of Nyssa

3100 Weston Road M9M 2S7

Toronto Phone: 416-742-1632