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Both Lungs

By Brent Kostyniuk


Miracles and Blessed Martyr Vasyl: a mother’s story

Prayer to Blessed Martyr Vasyl
O Lord God, you are praised by the whole world for the marvellous works in your saints. I thank you for the grace you gave to Blessed Martyr Vasyl Velychkovsky to be a faithful witness to you unto the point of death. Through his intercession I ask for the following favour ________
For your name is glorified forever. Amen

Do you believe in miracles? Well of course you do. Miracles are at the heart of our Christian religion, foremost of which is the miracle of Jesus Christ rising from the dead on Easter morning. But what I mean is do you really, really believe in your heart that miracles occur every day? Do you believe your prayers will be answered and that Jesus, often through the intercession of a saint, will grant a true miracle which cannot be explained on the basis of human understanding?

Blessed Martyr Vasyl Velychkovsky endured 24 years imprisonment in the Soviet Union during two separate incarcerations. His crime — refusing to deny the Ukrainian Catholic Church. During his second internment, Blessed Vasyl was subjected to electrical and chemical torture, which eventually left him a broken man. In 1972, having accomplished their mission, the authorities released him in order that his death would not appear to be their responsibility. He was also exiled from his Ukrainian homeland.

After a brief stay in Rome, Blessed Vasyl accepted an invitation to live in Winnipeg, but it would not be for long. On June 30, 1973, Bishop Vasyl died a martyr’s death. In 2001 he was beatified by Saint John Paul II in a ceremony in Lviv. Today Blessed Vasyl’s relics rest in a shrine in Winnipeg, which has become the site of pilgrimages from around the world. Prayers to Blessed Vasyl have been answered with graces and blessings.

When Jennifer Cormier was 26 weeks pregnant with her second child, she began to experience what she thought were false contractions. Instinctively, however, she knew that something was wrong. The baby she so desperately wanted was in trouble. At the hospital it was confirmed she had, indeed, begun labour. Preparations were made for what would be a very premature birth and the associated complications. For two days, the contractions continued. On the second day, Jennifer’s mother brought her a card with a special prayer to Blessed Vasyl and a vial of blessed oil from the shrine, which had been given to her by Sister Petronella Dybka, a longtime family friend. Her mother suggested Jennifer pray for a miracle that would bring her a healthy full-term baby. Jennifer anointed her head, heart and pregnant abdomen with the oil, then recited the prayer while holding her hands on her stomach. It was a routine she would faithfully continue for the next five months.

Jennifer remained in the hospital for two months, then was allowed to return home on the condition she remain in bed. All this while the contractions continued, as did Jennifer’s petitions to Blessed Vasyl. Eventually, it was time for the baby to be born. The labour did not go well, with Jennifer suffering body convulsions and pain. When the actual delivery began, the baby became stuck in the birth canal. “I remember hearing the doctor say, ‘I don’t think they will make it,’ ” Jennifer recalls. “Yet somehow I knew I had to deliver this baby. In an act of desperation, the nurse pushed so hard and fast on my belly that her feet came off the ground. At the same time I pushed as hard as I could and our daughter was born!”

All was still not well. The baby had been born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and was suffering from low oxygen levels. She was placed in intensive care for six hours, then brought back to Jennifer with her oxygen levels still low. “I held her for the first time and instantly her colour changed and her oxygen level became normal. Later, the doctor came to me and said, ‘This baby is a miracle; there is no other explanation for it.’ ”

Today, Addison Cormier is a healthy, active four-year-old. “I credit Blessed Vasyl for restoring my faith in God. Before all this, there was a lot of family turmoil and I didn’t know that God was on my side any more. Blessed Vasyl got me praying again. When I anointed myself and prayed to him, I was filled with a spirit that someone was helping me. I felt that Blessed Vasyl was protecting me and my baby. It was a miracle that I was able to carry Addison to full term. She wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Blessed Vasyl. She is a miracle.”

The experience has changed Jennifer’s life. She has given up her highly charged career to spend all her time with her family. “That is all that really matters,” she remarks.

Do you believe in miracles? Jennifer Cormier does.

Jennifer’s story is far from unique. Other testimonies of blessings and graces received can be found in Fully Alive — A Bishop Velychkovsky Martyr’s Shrine Publication. This newsletter can be found online at

For more information about Blessed Martyr Vasyl contact: Bishop Velychkovsky Martyr’s Shrine, 250 Jefferson Avenue, Winnipeg, Man. R2V 0M6

Kostyniuk, who lives in Edmonton, has a bachelor of theology from Newman and is a freelance writer. He and his wife Bev have been married for 36 years and have eight grandchildren.