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Women's Retreat 2023 with Guest Speaker

Abbess Mother Gabriella Ursache

How to prepare to meet our Lord Jesus Christ
in Holy Communion

"The monastic life consists of prayer and work.  

The most important activity of the monastery is to follow St. Paul's injunction to “pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17).  Our entire life and our day to day activities are scheduled around the daily cycle of services. The services are held in the main church or in the St. Andrew chapel and are open to the public. Guests and pilgrims are encouraged to attend the services and to provide names of those to be prayed for.  For the daily schedule of services refer to our service schedule and monthly calendar.

The monastery is organized as a cenobitic community, meaning everything is held in common, and each member of the community shares in the work and responsibilities, that is, the daily 'household' chores that any family would have--though on a larger scale.  The gardens, orchard, vineyards, and chickens all need to be tended to.  Meals need to be cooked and dishes washed.  The church and chapels, as well as the guest house and other public public buildings need to be cleaned and prepared for services and visitors.  Lawns need mowing and bushes need trimming.  These and many other tasks are carried out faithfully not only by the nuns, but also with the help of a multitude of volunteers for whom we are deeply grateful." (Check out their Monastery)

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The Life of Abbess Mother Gabriella Ursache

Mother Gabriella (Ursache) is the Abbess (Gerontissa - Greek, Stareța -Romanian) of the Holy Dormition Monastery , MI, since 1989. She was tonsured as a nun in 1977 in Varatec Monastery (Romania). In 1978 Mother Gabriella joined The Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Elwood City, PA, the monastery founded by Princess Ileana of Romania, later Mother Alexandra.

In 1987 Mother Gabriella together with sister Apolinaria and their spiritual mother, Schimonahy Benedicta (Great Schema Nun), got the blessing to build a new monastery in Northern part of the US. In 1989 Fr Roman Braga (member of the movement Burning Bush from Antim Monastery, Bucharest, was imprisoned by the communist authorities, together with all members of this movement in 1952) moved from Elwood City and joined the nuns at Rives Junction, MI. 

After Elder Benedicta retired from the public leadership of the Monastery in 1989 she passed the herald onto Mother Gabriella, who was installed as the new and second Abbess of the monastery by His Grace Bishop Nathaniel on the Feast Day of the Dormition, same year.

Mother Gabriella was a devoted spiritual daughter of Fr. Roman Braga, and she inherited his joy and love for people. She generously and humble shares her spiritual experience and wisdom being invited as the quest speaker to conduct spiritual retreats for adults and youth groups to the parishes around the United States and Canada.

The monastery is located in the South-Central Michigan, 7 miles North of Jackson, in the small farming community of Rives Junction, on 120 acres of wooded land with an array of wildlife. The monastery complex includes a new church in Byzantine style, a house for the sisterhood, offices, workshops, a guest house, a private library, a spacious conference room, a chapel in the cemetery, a prayer skete in the woods, a guesthouse for monastics and hierarchs, a residence for the priest of the monastery and a gift shop and museum building attached to a stone bell tower, and a large outdoor pavilion and garage.


Prayer is the first and foremost activity of the monastery, all the activities being scheduled around the daily cycle of prayer services. The work includes, hospitality to visitors, sewing priest vestments and altar covers, writing Byzantine icons, mounting icons, making prayer ropes as well as daily household chores. The monastery publishes a monastic journal, The Burning Bush three times per year. It is distributed free of charge to over 2,700 people, all over the US, Canada, & Europe.

Geographically, Rives Junction is within an hour or two of most of Michigan’s major cities: Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, and of course, Jackson. It is also within three to four hours from Cleveland and Chicago.

Also in 1992, Mother Benedicta, wanting to retire from the public leadership of the Monastery, passed the herald onto Mother Gabriella.


On Today, sewing continues to be a significant part of the income generated by the monastery. To that a few other activities have been added, such as making prayer ropes, decorating eggs, mounting icons, hand painting icons, speaking engagements and hosting many retreats at the monastery for groups of all ages. To all this can be added the work that is necessary to sustain the life of the community and to offer generous hospitality to all visitors. A large vegetable garden provides fresh vegetables all summer long as well as enough produce for canning to last

for the winter.


The monastery also publishes a bi-lingual monastic journal called “The Burning Bush”. It is more than just a newsletter. It is a monastic journal that publishes religious and monastic articles written by the members of the community. It was started as a teaching tool, as well as a link between the monastic community and the community of the faithful, and educational and informational magazine. The goal was, and still is that each issue would include articles relating to topics of general interest. The mailing list for those who receive the journal regularly is over

2700 people, all over the US, Canada, & Europe.


To learn more about the Abbess' monastery and to support them, click the button!

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