Feastday: November 12
- Saint Josaphat Kuntsevych 1580-1623
- Blessed Severian Baranyk 1889-1941
- Blessed Yakym Senkivsky 1896-1941
- Blessed Vitaly Bairak 1907-1946
- Blessed Josaphat Kotsykovsky 1876-1946
- Blessed Pavel Gojdic 1888-1960
- Servant of God Andrei Sheptytsky
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Bishop and Martyr
SAINT JOSAPHAT KUNTSEVYCH, OSBM
John Kuntsevych was born in Volodymyr Volynsk, in 1580. As a young boy, he loved to frequent the holy services and prayed with great fervor. In 1604, He entered the decadent Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Vilnius, Lithuania. Upon receiving the monastic tonsure and habit, he took the name Josaphat. By his example of fidelity and self-denial, he was able to reform the monastery, together with his friend Joseph Rutsky.
Their loving example spread beyond the monastery walls to the entire Ukrainian Church. In 1617, Rutsky and Josaphat succeeded in forming a confederation of monasteries, which became the Order of St. Basil the Great. To his great dismay, in 1618, Josaphat was appointed Archbishop of Polotsk-Vitebsk. For five years, he worked diligently to achieve church unity, as the Saviour had prayed "so that all may be one." Josaphat's humility and zeal won over many people, but also angered those who did not want to be united with Rome. Thus, during a pastoral visitation of his cathedral in Vitebsk, on November 12, 1623, Josaphat was brutally martyred; his body stripped and thrown in the river.
Immediately after his death, many miracles of conversion were attributed to his intercession, beginning with the conversion of his murderers. One of the greatest opponents of union with Rome, Bishop Meleti Smotrytsky, attributed his own conversion to Josaphat.
Josaphat Kuntsevych was beatified by Pope Urban VIII on May 16,1643 and canonized by Blessed Pope Pius IX, on June 29, 1867. He is the first Ukrainian Saint to be formally beatified an canonized. To celebrate the three-hundredth anniversary of the Saint's martyrdom, Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical letter, Ecclesiam Dei. Since 1963, his incorrupt body lies under the altar of Saint Basil, in the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter's.
"I know perhaps better than anyone else that it was not through our scholarship, industry, or diligence that things are happening now that were not happening before. Although we and the Servant of God [Josaphat] laboured more than anyone else, we were still unable to soften the hard rock of schism; this work was to be reserved for the blood of Josaphat. The people of Polotsk and Vitebsk, where he was threatened with death and finally murdered, bear witness to this. Now repentant, they confess their sin and ask forgiveness. "
—Testimony of Metropolitan Joseph Veliamyn Rutsky, 1628
Priest and Martyr
BLESSED SEVERIAN BARANYK, OSBM
Blessed Severian was born on July 18, 1889, in Austrian Galicia (today Western Ukraine). On September 24, 1904, he entered the monastery of the Basilian Fathers in Krekhiv. He was ordained to the priesthood on February 14, 1915. In 1932 he became the hegumen (superior) of the Basilian monastery in Drohobych. In life he was noted for his special kindness to youth and orphans. He inspired all with his joy and was famous for his preaching.
On 26 June 1941 the NKVD (KGB) arrested him and brought him to a prison in Drohobych; after this he was never seen alive again. His body, mutilated by tortures, was found among other dead prisoners. He died a martyr for the faith at the end of June 1941.
Blessed Severian was beatified by Pope John-Paul II, on June 27, 2001, in Lviv, Ukraine.
"Behind the prison I saw a big hole which had been covered up, filled with sand. When the Bolsheviks retreated the Germans came and people rushed to the prison to find their relatives. The Germans allowed people into the area of the prison in small groups to claim their murdered relatives, but most people stood by the gates.
I was a little boy and didn't see anything from the gates, so I went to the side and climbed a tree. There was a terrible stink … I saw how the Germans sent people to uncover the hole which was filled with sand. The hole was new, because the people uncovered it with their hands. They dragged out the murdered bodies.
There was a little covering near the hole, and under it I saw the dead body of Father Severian Baranyk, Basilian, with visible marks of his prison tortures; his body had unnaturally swelled, black, his face terrible. Dad later said that on his chest the sign of the cross had been slashed."
— From the testimony of Yosyf Lastoviak
Priest and Martyr
BLESSED YAKYM SENKIVSKY, OSBM
Blessed Yakim was born on 2 May 1896 in the village of Haji Velyki, Ternopil District. After completing his theological studies in Lviv, he was ordained as a priest, on December 4, 1921. He received a doctorate in Theology at Innsbruck, Austria. In 1923 he became a novice at the Basilian monastery in Krekhiv. After professing his first vows he was assigned to serve in the village of Krasnopushcha, and later to the village of Lavriv, in the district of Starosambir. From 1931-1938 he was stationed at St. Onufry Monastery in Lviv. There he served as chaplain to the Marian Society, ministered to children and youth and organized a Eucharistic Society. In 1939, he was appointed hegumen (superior) of Basilian monastery in Drohobych.
Father Yakym was arrested by the Bolsheviks, on June 26, 1941. According to the testimony of various prisoners, he was boiled to death in a cauldron in the Drohobych prison on June 29. Because of his righteous life the faithful held him up as a model of service to Church and nation. He died a martyr for the faith.
Blessed Yakym was beatified by Pope John-Paul II, on June 27, 2001, in Lviv, Ukraine.
"From the first days of his time in Drohobych he became the favorite of the whole town. He gained the affection of the population with his remarkable talent, his ability to speak to the scholar and the laborer, young and old, and even to the little child. He was always polite and with a warm smile on his face. In your soul you felt that this person had no malice, and in addition to the impression of humility and dignity, a true servant of Christ was evident."
— From the memoirs of Father Orest Kupranets, OSBM
Priest and Martyr
BLESSED VITALIY BAIRAK, OSBM
Vitaliy was born on February 24, 1907, in the village of Shvaikivtsy, Ternopil
District. In 1924 he entered the Basilian Order. He was ordained a priest
on August 13, 1933. In 1941 he was appointed superior of the Drohobych monastery,
in place of the recently martyred Father Yakym Senkivskyi.
In life he was distinguished for his friendliness, his energetic zeal in missionary work and preaching. He possessed the gift of spiritual direction.
On September 17, 1945 the NKVD (KGB) arrested Father Vitaliy and on November 13 sentenced him to eight years imprisonment "with confiscation of property" (although he had none).He died a martyr for the faith just before Easter 1946, after having been severely beaten in the Drohobych prison.
Blessed Vitaly was beatified by Pope John-Paul II, on June 27, 2001, in Lviv, Ukraine.
"Living in the territory that had been temporarily occupied by German forces…, he wrote an article with a negative position towards the Bolshevik Party, which had been published in the anti-Soviet calendar Misionar (Missionary), in 1942."
— From the personal file of V. V. Bairak, Archives of the MVS
Bishop and Martyr
BLESSED JOSAPHAT KOTSYLOVSKY, OSBM
Blessed Josaphat was born on March 3, 1876, in the village of Pakoshivka, Lemkiv District. He graduated with a theology degree from Rome, in 1907. On October 9 of that same year, he was ordained to the priesthood. Shortly after, he was appointed vice-rector and professor of Theology at the Stanyslaviv (Ivano-Frankivsk) seminary. In 1911 he entered the the Basilian order.
Father Josaphat was appointed bishop of the Peremysl Eparchy in 1916, but had to wait for Metropolitan Sheptytsky to return from captivity. On September 23, 1917, Kotsylovsky was ordained bishop in Peremsyl.
Throughout his life, Josaphat Kotsylovsky showed perseverance in his holy service, he worked to strengthen the Christian faith in the hearts of his flock.
In September, 1945, the Polish communist authorities arrested him and on June 26, 1946, after a second arrest, they forcibly deported him to the Soviet Ukraine, placing him in a prison in Kyiv.
Blessed Josaphat died a martyr for the faith, on November 17, 1947 in the Chapaivka concentration camp, near Kyiv. He was beatified by Pope John-Paul II, on June 27, 2001, in Lviv, Ukraine.
"I came to Protection Monastery and the hegumena [superioress] told me the story. When they arrested Bishop Kotsylovsky they arrested their Orthodox bishop of Kyiv at the same time. When they brought a package to Chapaivka, that Orthodox bishop said: 'Uniate Bishop Josaphat Kotsylovsky is confined in the same camp with me.
And he asked those nuns, if they could, to bring a package to Bishop Josaphat as well. So they brought a package for the one bishop and for the other…
Once when she brought a package, the bishop said that Kotsylovsky had died. And he asked her, because the dead were all thrown into one hole, if they could borrow or obtain some money somewhere. He asked her 'to bury him in a separate grave, because this was a holy man.''
— From the testimony of Father Josaphat Kavatsivo
Bishop and Martyr
BLESSED PAVEL GOJDIC, OSBM
Blessed Pavel was born on June 17, 1888, in the village of Ruske Peklany, near Presov (Pryjashevo), Slovakia. He was ordained a priest on August 27, 1911. In 1912, he was appointed prefect of the eparchial seminary.
After ten years of priestly service, on July 22, 1922, he entered the Basilian Order, at Chernacha Hora, near Mukachevo, Subcarpathia. Father Pavel sought an ascetical life of modesty and humility, but God was calling him to lead a very public ministry. Only four years after entering the Order, Pavel Gojdic was nominated Apostolic Administrator of the Presov Eparchy. During his installation speech, he promised to serve his flock as: "a father to orphans, a support for the poor and a consoler of the afflicted." On March 25, 1927, Gojdic was ordained bishop at the Basilica of St. Clement's, Rome.
Throughout his episcopal ministry, Bishop Pavel promoted the spiritual life of his flock, both clergy and laity. He was instrumental in the founding of an orphanage at Presov, which he entrusted to the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate. He also founded numerous educational institutions.
In 1939-1940, Bishop Pavel was promoted to Eparch of Presov and Administrator of Uzhhorod-Mukachevo. After the War, the Holy See gave him jurisdiction over all Greek Catholics in Czechoslovakia.
Due to his resistance to the Communist program to suppress the Greek Catholic Church, the government gradually isolated the bishop from his people. In 1950, the government outlawed the Greek Catholic Church, and had bishop Gojdic arrested and interned. He was condemned to life imprisonment in 1951 and suffered all manner of physical and psychological torture. During his suffering, Gojdic set an example of Christ-like patience and love. In 1953, Gojdic's sentence was converted to twenty-five years detention.
On July 17, 1960, Pavel Gojdic died as a result of torture and neglect that he had received at the hands of the Communist authorities. He was buried in the prison grounds in an unmarked grave. During the "Prague Spring", on October 29, 1968, his body was exhumed and transferred to his Cathedral in Presov. Bishop Gojdic was legally rehabilitated by the Czechoslovak Government, on September 27, 1990. Pavel Gojdic was beatified by Pope John Paul II, on November 11, 2001.
The Basilian General Chapter of 2004 asigned the particular commemoration od all the Basilian Martyrs to November 12.
The Servant of God
METROPOLITAN ANDREI SHEPTYTSKY, OSBM
Confessor of the Faith
In 1865, Graf Roman Sheptytsky was born into a Polish noble family of Ukrainian origin. His mother encouraged him in a religious vocation. His desire to enter the recently reformed Basilian Order provoked great anxiety in his family, who had a negitive impression of the Ukrainian clergy. After agreeing to study law for four years, Roman's Father, Graf Jan, finally permitted him to become a Basilian. On May 28, 1888, he entered the Basilian novitiate at Dobromyl. Upon receiving the monastic tonsure and habit, he took the monastic name Andrei. Sheptytsky made his Solemn Profession as a Basilian, on August 11, 1892, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Julian Pelesz, on September 3, of that same year.
For seven years, Father Andrei laboured zealously for souls and occupied several important positions in the Basilian Order; among them, master of Novices and Superior of St. Onufrius Monastery, in Lviv. On February 3, 1899, he was nominated Greek Catholic Bishop of Stanyslaviv. Upon the death of Metropolitan Sas-Kuilovsky, Sheptytsky was appointed Archbishop of Lviv and Metropolitan of Halyc, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Throughout his episcopal minstry, Metropolitan Andrei distinguished himself by his pastoral zeal for souls. His care for them also extended to their well being as a people. During the First World War, he was imprisoned in Russia for two years. His Russian exile was to have a lasting effect on his health. After the fall of the Tsarist regime, Sheptytsky was able to establish many ecumenical contacts in Russia.
After the defeat and break-up of Austria-Hungary, Ukrainian Greek Catholics were placed under Poland. Sheptytsky diligently strove to obtain basic liberties for his church and people. Like the Good Shepherd, Sheptytsky was not always understood by the leaders of his time.
During the Second Russian occupation of his homeland, this time by the Communists, the Metropolitan prepared his little flock to endure the persecution and the martyrdom ahead. He died on November 1, 1944. The cause for his beatification was begun in 1958. On June 27, 2001, in Lviv, Pope John Paul II expressed his wish, with God's help, to beatify the Servant of God.
"The Metropolitan lay calmly with eyes shut and breathed with difficulty, as he had previously. Then he began to pray again. He opened his eyes and began to talk to us: 'Our Church will be ruined, destroyed by the Bolsheviks, but you will hold on, do not renounce the faith, the Catholic Church. A difficult trial will fall on our Church, but it is passing. I see the rebirth of our Church, it will be more beautiful, more glorious than of old, and it will embrace all our people. Ukraine,' the Metropolitan continued, "will rise again from her destruction and will become a mighty state, united, great, comparable to other highly-developed countries. Peace, well being, happiness, high culture, mutual love and harmony will rule here. It will all be as I say. It is only necessary to pray that the Lord God and the Mother of God will care for our poor tired people,who has suffered so much and that God's care will last forever."
—From an interview with Father Yosyf Kladochnyi about Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky's last moments on earth.
A New Order
The beginning of the Nazi-Soviet war on 22 June, 1941 for many western Ukrainians meant, first of all, the liquidation of the hated Bolshevik domination and led to unfulfilled expectations for the revival of religious freedom and the achievement of their national aspirations. However it was soon apparent that changing one bloody regime for another would not change the essence of totalitarianism.
"… The terror is growing. During the last two months in Lviv more than 40 thousand Jews were murdered. The authorities conducted searches in the church, in my residence and in parts of the monastery … Two monks were imprisoned, and perhaps there will be attempts to create some 'show trials.' The arrests continue. This is a regime of raving madmen."
— From a letter of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky to Cardinal Tisserant of 28 December 1942
Stalin's attack on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) began immediately after the first occupation of western Ukraine in September 1939. This occupation was in accordance with the Soviet-Nazi Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and lasted until June 1941. In this period all UGCC property was confiscated, schools and hospitals were nationalized. Church publications and religious organizations were forbidden, religious educational institutions and presses were closed, the activities of religious congregations were limited, brutal atheist propaganda and mass terror and the deportation of a peaceful population began.
"It is absolutely clear that under the Bolsheviks we all felt destined for death; they did not conceal their intention to destroy, to strangle Christianity,to erase its smallest traces."
— From Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky's letter to the Papal Nuncio, of 30 August 1941
"We cannot pass over in silence the illustrious metropolitan Andrew Szepticky. For nearly forty-five years he labored with tireless assiduity, making himself most acceptable to his flock on more than one account besides what concerned their spiritual profit. In the course of his episcopate a theological society was founded to encourage the clergy in a deeper and more fruitful study of the sacred science; an ecclesiastical academy was erected in Lvov in which Ruthenian youths of superior intellectual gifts could apply themselves to philosophy, theology and other higher studies in the manner customary in universities; every kind of literary production, books, newspapers and reviews, greatly increased and won a good reputation even among foreign nations. Besides all this, sacred art was cultivated in accordance with the tradition of the nation and its particular genius; a museum and other homes of art were equipped with outstanding works of antiquity, and finally, a number of institutions were begun and developed to meet the needs of the poorer classes of citizens and to assist the indigent".
— Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter "Orientales Omnes Ecclesias", December 23, 1945, 43.
Texts used with the kind permission of Oleh Turii, Director of the Institute of Church History at the Ukrainian Catholic Univertsity, Lviv.
Photos of Metyropolitan Sheptytsky reporduced
with the kind permission of Oleh Iwanusiw.