Marian Shrine of Gratitude

Basilian Fathers Monastery, Weston, Ontario

 


The Monument of Gratitude to the Mother of God as it appears most recently with a stained-glass background and an arched glass canopy, October, 2011.

 

The first part of this pamphlet, A Memorial Of Gratitude, describes the history of the origin of the Memorial  of Gratitude and a series of small events that happened during its construction. The second part of this pamphlet presents the main events, experiences, spiritual graces and corporal healings which occured here through the intercession of the Mother of God. From the very beginning of this prayerful place to this day the Mother of God graciously hears the prayers of her children who implore her help in their various spiritual and corporal needs and sufferings.

 

The former swimming pool at the present site of the Memorial of Gratitude to the Mother of God. Larry Shugan is diving into the pool, circa 1960.

 

 

The Memorial of Gratitude since its erection in 2005 keeps drawing ever more visitors. People of diverse ethnic origin, of various nationalities, races and cultures come to visit from morning to late evening.

 


Stan Sokolyk begins the construction of the pedestal for the statue of the Mother of God, 2005.

 



 

A Place of Prayer, Peace and Quiet
Coming here, people feel as though they were entering their own home where they are welcomed with the love and the open arms of their mother.

Here, deep in their soul, the visitors experience a renewed faith, and in their hearts the hope for motherly help is born.

O Most Holy and Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Saviour! We are aware of our sinfulness, but we are your children, so please help us in our needs. Heal the illnesses of our souls and bodies. Help us to do what your Son Jesus teaches us in the Gospels. (Cf. "Do whatever he tells you," John 2: 1-11).

Some of the visitors fall on their knees with faith, others stand and raise their eyes and arms to the Immaculate Mother of God, revealing their wounded hearts and souls to her. No one here feels to be a stranger, or distant or unwanted. By the will of her Son, she became the Mother of all people.

 

 

 "Standing near the cross of Jesus was his mother...When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom He loved standing beside her, He said to His mother, 'Woman, here is your son.' Then He said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.'  And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home"  (John 19: 25-27).

The Memorial of Gratitude to the Mother of God has become a place of prayer, peace and quiet. Some come here to say at least a brief prayer, others to implore the Mother of God for her protection and blessing for themselves, their families, friends or acquaintances. Still others come to open their wounded hearts to the Mother of God following diverse spiritual and corporal experiences, concerns, family problems, or seeking healing. Many bring flowers in thanksgiving to the Mother of God for graces or healing received through her intercession.

 


Blessed Pope John Paul II and Fr. Basil Cymbalisty, OSBM, in glasses, in Kyiv at the airport, June 23, 2001.

 

Whoever comes to  this blessed place, regardless of his ancestry, race, colour of skin or culture, feels as though in the home of his own mother. The Mother of God embraces all her children, rejoices in their presence, and sends no one away empty-handed, disappointed or without hope. People leave strengthened in spirit, with the desire to return, but not alone: they bring along their family members, friends or acquaintances.

From an Abandoned Swimming Pool to a Charming Garden of Prayer 
As late as 2004, the present location of the Memorial of Gratitude to the Mother of God was an abandoned  80-year-old once elegant swimming pool in ruins. As time passed, it was filled with earth, served no purpose and had no future outlook. Now it has been converted into a place of exceptional beauty, prayer and encounter of people with the Mother of God. Where once people came seeking health of body now come to promote their health of soul. An unusual power seems to draw a variety of people here from far and near.

Everyone who comes here senses something unusual about this place. Many feel as though it were a bit of heaven on earth. Here they find what their souls long for, what material prosperity or other life's pleasures do not give. Of course it is not easy to deceive people. But some unknown sense seems to spontaneously draw a variety of people here.

It seems that the Mother of God has chosen this abandoned pool to meet her children here and to help them.

 


The first group of pilgrims at the Memorial of Gratitude to the Mother of God, from the left, Iurii Shymko, losyf Ivakh, Maria Daciuk, Stefania Shymko, Stanislava Ivakh, Maria, Natalia, Fr. Myron Chimy, OSBM, hegumen, August, 2005.

 

The natural beauty of this location and its surroundings appeals to those who come here. At the very top of the hill, as a backdrop for the Memorial of Gratitude to the Mother of God stands the monastery of the Basilian Fathers. Stone steps surrounded by a terraced garden with a variety of flowers descend to the shrine. At the bottom of the stairs on a pedestal stands a metre-high statue of the Immaculate Virgin Mary of white marble, with a kneeling angel at each side. Below the statue a coloured crucifixion is cemented into the wall of the pedestal and beneath it a metal representation of the Last Supper, and below it is a marble altar. Above the statue of the Mother of God is a metal cupola-like structure covered in glass. Behind the statue is a background of artistically designed stained glass in yellow and blue.  Thus the Memorial of Gratitude represents the Mother of God, angels, the crucifixion, the Last Supper and an altar. Along the stone walls of the former swimming pool are the Stations of the Cross. Everything here is conducive to reflection and prayer.

 

 

How the Memorial of Gratitude Came About 
I had never thought of building a public place of prayer. It all began on October 4, 2004, after an accident with my eye and the regaining of my sight. At the moment of my accident I turned to the Mother of God asking her to save my eye. And indeed not only did nothing happen to my eye but also from that moment my sight, which for more than twelve years had been weakened, fully recovered and has been well for over six years. From that moment I no longer need eyeglasses.

 


Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins, approaches the altar at the MGMG to celebrate Mass for students from the Catholic high schools of Toronto, May 4 2008.

 

A Feeling of Gratitude to the Mother of God
Several months later the feeling of gratitude to the Mother of God for the saving of my eye in an unfortunate accident and the return of my sight inspired in me the thought to erect on this site a small statue to the Blessed Mother. I wanted to do this only for my own spiritual benefit to come here and pray in private. However, the Mother of God wanted something else. And soon this place went beyond its bounds of privacy, and people spontaneously began coming here.  

 

 

People consider the creation of this place God's great blessing for Toronto and area. Anyone may come at any time to pray here and to ask the Mother of God for her blessing and help, especially in moments of depression, illness or suffering. And indeed people do come to this holy place: they pray, obtain a variety of graces and healing of their spiritual and corporal illness and hurts.

The Memorial of Gratitude to the Mother of God and the Holy Eucharist
The Icon of the Last Supper
From the very beginning the Memorial of Gratitude is bound with the Holy Eucharist. On October 4, 2004, when the accident with my eye happened, the Eucharistic Congress in Mexico got under way. It officially opened "The Holy Year of the Eucharist," which lasted from October 2004 to October 2005. In June, 2005, during the construction of this memorial of thanksgiving, it occured to me to mark this occasion by some kind of memorial tablet. During that time I happened to visit our Basilian monastery in Grimsby, which was in the process of closing down. A few days earlier a sale of the monastery items was held. Over three thousand people attended the sale. Everybody was looking for a memento of the monastery. And indeed the people bought up everything there was for sale. When I arrived and entered the monastery I noticed in a room completly empty a metal "Last Supper" on the wall, in which no one seemed interested. Seeing it, I thought of taking it to Toronto and attaching it to the Memorial of Gratitude in memory of "The Holy Year of the Eucharist." And that is what I did. A place for this icon, even though no one had foreseen it, was ready. I had it affixed to the pedestal and there it remains.

 

 

An Event at the Close of the Holy Year of the Eucharist
The Year of the Holy Eucharist was closing in Rome at the end of June, 2005, during the Synod of the Bishops of the Catholic Church. In the afternoon of October 23, I went to the parish of St. Basil the Great, where I was then the pastor. There several square metres of the courtyard had to be covered with cement. Driving there, I  bought five bags of cement. The following day I had to get 25 more bags of cement for the job. As soon as I entered the churchyard, a Portuguese neighbour came up to the fence and asked: "Father, what  are you going to do here?"  I replied, "I'm going to cement the courtyard." To my surprise, he said, "Father, just wait a minute and we'll do this for you." And sure enough, in a few minutes he began bringing, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of cement, ready to pour. Just before the job was finished we ran out of cement and there still remained a small part of the courtyard to finish. At that moment I remembered that I had five bags of cement in my car. They were just enough to finish the rest of the courtyard. Having finished the job my neighbour joyfully told me: "Father, what happened here is for me a real miracle. I needed a small amount of cement to fix the path to my building. I asked my friend, who works in construction, to bring me a small amount of cement in his truck at his convenience. Today he brought almost half a truckload and left it in front of the entrance to my house. In a few hours the cement would have dried and I would have had a problem. So I prayed to the Fatima Mother of God that she would somehow help me. And she truly heard my prayer."

 


Photo of the MGMG in which a golden circle appears behind the statue in the shape of a Latin-rite Host, with the sun appearing as a monstrance with a cross above it. Photo taken by Fr. Iovinii Ferenz, OSBM, May 3,2010.

 

I told him that for me it is also a wonder, for how is it possible that neither he nor I work with cement, and made no arrangements, and suddenly everything turned out nicely in such a strange way. He solved his problem with the cement and I with the paving of the church courtyard. This may seem as an ordinary coincidence, but it occured to me that  this event too was tied to the concluding of The Year of the Holy Eucharist, just as the piercing of my eye was tied to the begining of this celebration. The Lord speaks to people not only in great events but also in little ones, sometimes quite insignificant in themselves. We only need  to know how to recognize them. 

 An Unusual Photograph
On May 3, 2010, Fr. Iuvini  Ferenz, OSBM, arrived in Toronto from Brazil. He greatly desired to pray before the Memoral of Gratitude. After praying, he took several photographs, copies of which he gave to me. After he left I began looking through these photos. Unexpectedly, one of them caught my attention. It was a photo was taken at 9:07 A.M. on a sunny day. What was strange was that it had been taken from one side but at the same time it showed two unusual symbolic scenes. The statue of the Mother of God was encircled by a yellow halo, as though a Latin-rite Host and the rays of the sun from behind the trees represented a monstrance, as it were, encircled by bright rays with a cross-like image above it.

 

 

Of course someone might say that it's an ordinary reflection of the sun's rays. However, who can explain how, on a photo, taken on a bright sunny day, not from in front but from the side, the statue of the Mother of God was symetrically surrounded by a yellow circle. How is it possible to suspend a yellow circle in the air with no background around the statue of the Mother of God? I would be pleased to welcome a photographer who would  take that same kind of picture with the same symbolism. God also makes use of the laws of nature to reveal His almighty power and His will. Nothing in the world happens by chance. Everything is guided by God's Providence.

 

 

Graces of Healing of Soul and Body
In the first part of this pamphlet, as was mentioned, there is described the history and a series of small unusual events which occured at the Memorial of Gratitude. In this second part we present the events that occurred later. In particular we list the names of over twenty persons who at this place or through the intercession of the Weston Mother of God received special graces and healings:

1. Vasilta Rosemond -- healed of a six-year illness in her hip. (May, 26, 2007)
2. Pina Scarlato -- healed of cancer of the breast. (November, 2008)
3. Nadia Chichyk -- healed of cancer in the eyes, bones, liver and lungs.(June, 2008)
4. Roksana Stekh -- healed of ulcerated sores on her feet. (June, 2009)
5. Maria Kohut -- healed of cancer. (May, 2008)
6. Kateryna Martins -- healed of paralysis. (May, 2007)
7. Mirian Gererra -- healed of intestinal cancer. (August, 2010)
8. Gloria Tedesco -- healed of breast cancer.(March, 2008)
9. Uliana Synavska --  healed of cancer. (May, 2010)
10. Marusia Bednarska -- healed of widespread cancer. (May, 2008)
11. Filomena Daniel,  from India -- healed of eye infection. (May, 16, 2010)
12. Mignela Trinidfad, a nun from the Philippines -- healed of illness of the eyes. (May, 26 2010)
13. Taylor Costorfine -- healed from a two-month coma after an auto accident.(May, 2007)
14. Jacey and Lucy Armamento -- childless parents who implored for themselves a boy, John Paul. (May, 2009)
15. Roksana Rak -- healed from a severe and hopeless condition following a car accident.(November, 2011)
16. A relative from Ukraine visiting family in Canada, began abusing alcohol and narcotics. His aunt's prayers to the Mother of God helped him give up these vices. He asked for forgiveness from his family and returned home a  healthy man. (May, 2006)
17. Olexander Kostetsky -- healed of cancer. (May, 2007)
18. Maria Provecchio -- healed of sugar diabetes. (June, 2009)
19. Mrs, Elzda - Italian woman -- healed of an eye illness. (May, 2010)
20. A family, after a three-year separation, was reconciled.(June 2009)
21. A family, about to separate, was reconciled and is living happily. (July, 2010)
22. Giovanni Palumbo -- who died, after suffering from cancer for a long time, was thankful to the Mother of God of the Memorial of Gratitude, and asked that people not wear black at his funeral and not bring flowers, but those wishing to respect his memory make donations to the Marian Memorial of Gratitude. (May 2008) Besides the people mentioned here tens of others have received various graces and healings for which they give thanks to the Mother of God of the Memorial of Gratitude.
23. Besides this list of names of those who were healed through the intercession of the Mother of God there is also the healing of my punctured eye and the regaining of my sight after twelve years of weakened sight. From October 4, 2004 to the present day I need no eyeglasses and my sight according to the latest observation of the ophthalmologist continues to be wonderful.

 

 

It was the healing of my eye thanks to the intercession of the Mother of God that prompted me to erect this memorial and to call it a Memorial of Gratitude to the Mother of God.

"So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours" (Mr.11,24)

"Very truly, I tell you , if you ask anything_ of the Father_ in my name, he will give it you" (Jo. 16,23).

"Truly I tell you, it two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father_ in heaven" (Mt.18,19).

"Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you"._ For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds; and for every who knocks, the door will be opened" (Mt.7.7-8).

Fr. Basil Cymbalisty, OSBM
Toronto, March, 2011
English translation
Most Reverend Bishop Cornelius Pasichny, OSBM