Archimandrite Gabriel – an Orthodox monk from the Podlasie province in Poland – is the founder of the Kudak grove hermitage. During his first few years there, he lived and prayed in a wagon house, without electricity, or contact with the outside world. After five years, thanks to the help of people of Orthodox faith from local villages, the grove saw the rise of a wooden church, a dormitory for monks, and outbuildings.
Pilgrims are drawn to the place by archimandrite Gabriel's personality: he can find common ground with anyone, he grants spiritual advice, heals with herbs, and keeps bees. When necessary, he rolls up his sleeves and works on building the hermitage right alongside everyone else.
The archimandrite's biggest concern is finding a successor. Prospective monks don't last long in the hermitage, however. They can't stand the lack of access to civilization, common comforts, and contact with their peers.