The Woodstock Sentinel Review (Ontario)
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:26:19 EST AM
Father Evtimy Wolinski. SENTINEL REVIEW/File Photo
WOODSTOCK – Canada’s last active Studite monk claims he has lost almost everything after allegedly breaking one of the most important vows a monk can make.
The former Woodstock Peace Lighthouse and Studite monastery are closed and for sale signs have been posted.
The former priest and monk of 34 years left his post as monastery superior and is believed to have fathered a child with a Ukrainian woman who emigrated to Canada to conduct prayer meetings at the church.
The former Very Reverend Evtimy Wolinski, also known as Herbert Wolinski, a monk with a Ukrainian order known as the Studite Fathers, is being sued for child and spousal support.
Wolinski, 69, claims in court documents that he has been “internationally suspended from all priestly functions.”
According to the documents, Viktoriya Abelyar is petitioning the court to grant her sole custody of her and Wolinski’s 22-month-old child, and is asking that Wolinski provide financial support.
Father Myroslaw Tataryn, a Waterloo priest and spokesperson for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto, confirmed Abelyar’s accusation.
“It’s a very, very sad situation, it really is,” he said.
Tataryn, a priest for 32 years, said it is “the only incidence of something like this happening in Canada within our church.”
While Tataryn said he cannot comment on Wolinski’s status as a monk, which is up the Studite Fathers, he said he is no longer “functional as a priest in the Toronto Eparchy.”
“He’s been a monk for many, many years. It happened late in his career,” he said.
While priests are allowed to marry in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, monks, by dint of their vows, are prohibited from wedlock.
Tataryn also added that the Toronto Eparchy has not put the land up for sale, as it belongs to the Studite Fathers who have a board of directors and monastery near Rome.
Abelyar, 40, alleged in the court document that she was hired by the Studite Fathers, located at 560 Parkinson Road, to help organize and monitor a Ukrainian-speaking prayer group known as “Keepers of the Light.”
She said she lived on the church property and was provided with accommodation, food and emergency travel insurance in return for volunteer work, but stayed beyond the initial one-year period.
In a letter to the Canadian Consulate dated June 2, 2009, signed by Wolinski, the Studite Fathers promised to “guarantee food, accommodation, health-care and all basic necessities” to Abelyar.
Four years later it fell apart, after she and Wolinski began “an intimate common law relationship” in January of 2010, which ended on June 11, 2013.
She said she spent her days working as a secretary, gardening and performing secretarial duties.
A June 2013 letter, also included in court documents and signed by Toronto Catholic Bishop Stephen Chmilar, prohibits Abelyar and her child from trespassing on the land and premises located at 560 Parkinson Road after July of 2013.
Abelyar alleged that at one point during their relationship, Wolinski promised to marry her, she also alleged he told he has other children and does not provide support to them.
Wolinski fired back in the documents that “statements about my promising marriage or having other children are absolute lies.”
He also said he wants to help them.
“I cherish little Emmanuel and have said that I will do what I can to help and provide for both as soon as I get back on my feet,” he wrote.
Wolinski says he no longer has control over the Studite properties and was “put out on the street,” with only his old-age pension as an income.
Abelyar claims Wolinski “will not help me care for our baby, and avoids him.”
“I suspect this is because he is monk and part of his vows include celibacy,” she wrote.
Throughout 2012, she said Wolinski gave her a total of $10,000, but is now down to her last $500.
“Because of Hebert’s disinterest in our child and our well-being, and his financially controlling behaviour, I feel very much that we are victims of economical and emotional abuse,” she wrote.
She also alleged that Wolinski was a regular gambler, and included copies of a player prestige card from Casino Windsor.
The Studites, members of one of the oldest monastic orders of the church dating from pre-schism times, once owned hundreds of acres of land in Woodstock.
Over the years they have slowly sold off it off developers.
In 2000, Wolinski was responsible for establishing the Woodstock Peace Lighthouse of Icons, which at one time housed more than 100 religious icons or intricate paintings about religious subjects.
He had hoped it would generate interest in the monastery and act as a draw for tourists.
In 2002, Wolinski told the Sentinel-Review that the Lighthouse “is a celebration of Christ’s birth and essentially features the life of Christ in icons.”
Numbers listed for the Woodstock Peace Lighthouse have been disconnected, and an email was not returned.
Both Wolinski and Abelyar could not be reached for comment.
Their case returns to court on December 11.