On April 24, 2001, in the presence of the Holy Father, the Decree of Martyrdom was promulgated for five Redemptorists, four Ukrainians and one Czech.
The Czech, Blessed Methodius Dominick Trčka, was born July 6, 1886, in Frydlant nad Ostravici, in Moravia, now the Czech Republic. In 1902 he joined the Redemptorists and began his novitiate in 1903.
He made his profession August 25, 1904. Having completed his studies, he was ordained in Prague, July 17, 1910.
He spent his early years as a priest preaching parish missions. In 1919 he was sent to work among the Greek Catholics in the area of Halic, in Galizia, and then in Slovakia in the Eparchy of Prešov, where he carried on intense missionary activity. In March 1935 he was appointed by the Congregation for Oriental Churches as apostolic visitor of the Basilian monks in Prešov and in Uzhorod. When the vice-province of Michalovce was founded, Trčka was appointed vice-provincial on March 23, 1946. He began to work zealously to found new houses and to form young Redemptorists.
Redemptorist church in Michalovce
During the night of the April 13, 1950, the Czech government suppressed all the religious communities. After a summary trial, Fr. Trčka was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment, during which he was subjected to lengthy interrogations and torture. In 1958 he was transferred to the prison of Leopoldov. He was suffering from pneumonia contracted during solitary confinement, which was imposed on him for singing a Christmas hymn. He died March 23, 1959.
He was interred in the prison cemetery, but after the liberation of the Greek-Catholic Church his remains were transferred to the Redemptorist plot in the cemetery of Michalovce on October 17, 1969.
Pope John Paul II proclaimed him to be Blessed Methodius Dominick on November 4, 2001.
(Revised text from www.cssr.com, own edition)
Confinement for a Christmas hymn
Blessed Mykolay Charnetskyi (1884-1959)
Mykolay Charnetskyi was born to a large and pious peasant family on the 14th of December 1884 in the Western Ukrainian village of Semakivka. Mykolay was the eldest of nine children. He received his primary education in the village of Tovmach and then entered St. Nicolas gymnasium (grammar school) in Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk).
Charnetskyi discovered his vocation to the priesthood at a young age and soon declared his intention of becoming a priest. In 1903 bishop Hryhoriy Khomyshyn sent him to Rome for studies. During Charnetskyi's short visit to Ukraine, bishop Hryhoriy Khomyshyn ordained him a priest on the 2nd of October 1909. Fr. Mykolay then returned to Rome to continue his studies and received the degree of Doctor of theology.
From the autumn of 1910 Fr. Charnetskyi was professor of Philosophy and Dogmatic theology at the Stanislaviv seminary. He was also the Spiritual Director in the same seminary. Deep in his heart, however, Fr. Mykolay longed for the monastic life. Hence, in October 1919 he joined the Redemptorist novitiate in Zboiska near Lviv, and one year later, on the 16th of October 1920, he professed his vows as a Redemptorist.
Filled with eagerness to work for the reconciliation of Christians and to convert the spiritually abandoned people, in 1926 the Redemptorists of the Lviv Province founded a missionary center at Kovel in the Volhyn region. Fr. Charnetskyi, being an ardent missionary, was sent there. Very soon he gained the utmost respect of the local people and even that of the Orthodox clergy. Having opened a monastery and a church in Kovel, Fr. Mykolay did his best to preserve the purity of the Eastern Liturgical rite. In 1931, taking into account Fr. Charnetskyi's devoted work, Pope Pius XI appointed him titular bishop of Lebed and an Apostolic Visitor for the Ukrainian Catholics in the Volhyn and Pidliashsha regions. These regions became the field of Charnetskyi's activity - first as a missionary, then as a bishop - for almost 14 years.
First Ukranian Redemporist bishop
As the first Ukrainian Redemptorist bishop he experienced persecution from the very outset of his activity. During the Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine in 1939 the Redemptorists were forced to leave the Volhyn region, and bishop Charnetskyi moved to Lviv, to a Redemptorist monastery in Zyblykevycha (now Ivana Franka) street.
After the revival of the Lviv Theological Academy in 1941, Bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi joined the faculty of the Academy as a professor of Philosophy, Psychology, and Moral Theology. His calmness, based on a strong and unshakable faith, his spirit of obedience and prayer gave his students good reason to consider their professor a saint. Bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi was for them an exemplary figure of both a monk and a virtuous person.
Sentenced to ten years of imprisonment
In 1944 the Soviet troops entered Galicia for the second time. This marked the beginning of bishop Charnetskyi's via dolorosa. He was arrested on 11 April 1945. He was held in the prison of the Soviet secret police in Lonskoho street. There, the bishop suffered many afflictions: interrogations in the middle of the night, cruel beating and torture. Later Bishop Charnetskyi was transferred to Kiev, where he spent another year of suffering - until his case was taken to court. Bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment for the crime of being a "Vatican agent". He served this term together with the Metropolitan Yosyf Slipyi first in the town of Mariinsk in the Kemeroc region (Siberia), then later at a number of other prison sites as well.
According to credible sources, during the period of his imprisonment (from his arrest in Lviv in April 1945 until his release in 1956), Bishop Charnetskyi spent altogether 600 hours under torture and interrogations, and at different times was imprisoned in 30 prisons and prison camps. Despite all these sufferings, the bishop always managed to find a word of consolation for his fellow prisoners. He supported them morally and he knew all of them by name. It is no wonder that bishop Charnetskyi was very popular among the prisoners, as he was the only source of consolation for them.
600 hours under interrogation
Blessed martyr of Christian faith.
Blessed Vasyl Velychkovskyi (1903-1973)
Vasyl Vsevolod Velychkovskyi was born on 1 June 1903 in Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk) to a family of the Velychkovskyi's and Teodorovych's, both of which had had a long tradition of priests in their families. Vasyl's parents, Volodymyr and Anna, brought up their children in a spirit of Christian devotion. That is why Vasyl had a desire to work for the salvation of souls since his very childhood.
Vasyl Velychkovskyi received his gymnasium education in the town of Horodentsi. Being an ardent patriot, the fifteen-years-old gymnasium student joined the Ukrainian Galician Army to fight for the independence of his motherland during World War I. After his safe return from the army in 1920, Vasyl Velychkovskyi entered the Lviv seminary. In 1924, he was ordained a deacon by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskyi. It was at that time that Velychkovskyi discovered his monastic vocation. With assistance from his aunt Monica, he joined the Redemptorist novitiate and a year later, on 29 August 1925, he professed the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Since Velychkovskyi had already completed his theological studies, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Y. Botsian immediately after completing the novitiate, on the 9th of October of the same year.
From the very beginning of Fr. Velychkovskyi's monastic life, his superiors noticed his talent as a missionary. In order to develop this talent, after Fr. Velychkovskyi spent two years teaching at the Redemptorist gymnasium "Juvenate". He was also sent to Stanislaviv to conduct missions together with his more experienced confreres. This was the beginning of Fr. Velychkovskyi's apostolic work, which lasted for 20 years - until the beginning of the persecution of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Four Redemptorist Ukranian martyrs
Fr. Vasyl involved in missionary work
On 16 November 1928 Fr. Velychkovskyi arrived at the Redemptorist monastery in Kovel. There, he immediately became involved in missionary work among the Galician settlers, scattered throughout the Volhyn, Pidliashshia, Kholm and Polissia regions, who had departed from the Greek-Catholic Church and joined the Russian Orthodox Church. Along with this work among the Galician settlers, Fr. Velychkovskyi also organized missions for the local population of Volhyn, Polissia, and Belarus. Using financial support from Motropolitan Sheptytskyi and other sponsors, he founded several churches and chapels. In 1935 Fr. Velychkovskyi returned to the Stanislaviv monastery and became superior there.
Fr. Velychkovskyi continued his apostolic activity on a large scale, even though the Greek Catholic Church underwent persecution at the hands of the Soviets after their occupation of Western Ukraine in 1939. In 1940 he organized a procession in which some 20 thousand faithful participated carrying crosses through the streets of Stanislaviv,. Despite the threats from Soviet secret police, Fr. Velychkovskyi did not give up. In 1941, on Metropolitan Sheptytskyi's request, he departed for Central Ukraine to work with the Orthodox Ukrainians of Kamianets-Podilskyi. However, the pro-Ukrainian activities of the new priest caused suspicion among the Germans who had recently occupied the town. Just three days after his arrival, Fr. Velychkovskyi was accused of cooperating with Ukrainian national resistance organizations and was ordered to leave the town in twenty-four hours. He moved to Ternopil and became a superior of the Dormition church monastery in that town.
Having seized Galicia for the second time in 1945, the Soviet regime in just one night of 10-11 April arrested representatives of the entire Greek-Catholic hierarchy. On 26 July 1945 Fr. Vasyl Velychkovskyi was arrested in Ternopil - "for anti-Soviet propaganda". During the interrogation he was offered the option of joining the Russian Orthodox Church in exchange for his freedom. The answer was: "Never!" Later Fr. Velychkovskyi was transferred to Kiev prison, where the investigation of his case lasted for almost two years. Finally, the Kiev regional court sentenced him to death - for two anticommunist phrases ("red horde" and "red gang") which occurred in a pocket calendar issued by Fr. Velychkovskyi in Stanislaviv in 1939.
Blessed Zynoviy Kovalyk (1903-1941)
Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk was born on 18 August 1903 in the village of Ivachiv Horishniy near Ternopil to a poor peasant family. Before becoming a monk he worked as a primary school teacher in his village. He had a strong character and never compromised his faith. The dream of Zynoviy's childhood was to become a priest. Having discovered his vocation to consecrated life, Zynoviy Kovalyk joined the Redemptorists. He professed vows as a Redemptorist on 28 August 1926. Shortly after professing his vows, Zynoviy was sent to Belgium for philosophical and Theological studies.
After his return to Ukraine, on 9 August 1932 Zynoviy Kovalyk was ordained a priest. On 4 September 1932 Fr. Kovalyk celebrated his first Liturgy in his home village of Ivachiv. The little icons commemorating his ordination bore the following inscription: "O Jesus, receive me [as a sacrifice] together with the Holy Sacrifice of Thy Flesh and Blood. Receive it for the Holy Church, for my Congregation and for my Motherland". Christ received these words as a most pure offering. Little did Fr. Kovalyk know that those words were prophetic, and that soon - in just nine years - they would come true in his martyrdom…
Kovalyk was born in a poor peasant family
Ikon presented to JP II during the Beatification
On the night of 20-21 December 1940 the agents of the Soviet secret police entered the Redemptorist monastery to arrest Fr. Kovalyk for his sermons on the Novena of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, which he had been delivering in the monastery's church. Before leaving his confreres, Fr. Kovalyk asked his superior Fr. De Vocht for the last blessing and absolution.
Although the Redemptorists had long tried to find out about their arrested confrere, it was only in April 1941 that they received information about Fr. Kovalyk being kept in prison in Zamarstynivska street (the so-called "Brygidky" prison). During his six months long imprisonment, Fr. Kovalyk underwent 28 painful interrogations; three times he was brought to other prisons and interrogated there. After one such interrogation, which was accompanied by especially cruel tortures, Fr. Kovalyk fell seriously ill due to considerable loss of blood.
While in prison, Fr. Kovalyk continued his apostolic work. He shared a tiny (4,20 by 3,50 metres) and unfurnished cell with 32 other inmates. Fr. Kovalyk together with the prisoners went through a third of the rosary on weekdays and through the whole rosary on Sundays. In addition, Fr. Kovalyk conducted liturgical prayers; in May he organized prayers to the Mother of God, and on the feast of Epiphany he treated the inmates to the liturgical consecration of water. Apart from prayers, Fr. Kovalyk heard confessions, conducted spiritual exercises and catechism, and consoled the inmates by narrating - in his peculiar humorous manner - various religious stories. No wonder that the prisoners - people in the greatest need of hope and consolation - truly loved Fr. Kovalyk for his apostolic character.
In 1941, when German troops started their offensive, the prison keepers, eager to flee but not able to take the prisoners along, started shooting the inmates. However, it was not enough for them just to shoot Fr. Kovalyk: reminding him of his sermons about the crucified Christ, they nailed Fr. Kovalyk to the prison wall in full view of his fellow prisoners.
God has tried him and found him worthy of Him
Ikon of bishop Trčka
Bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi spent the last years of his imprisonment in a prison hospital in Mordovia. In 1956 his health declined to the extent that the doctors did not have any hope as regards his survival. A special robe, in which the prisoners were buried, had already been sewn for bishop Charnetskyi. Taking into account the hopeless condition of the bishop and that the Soviet regime could avoid the blame of causing the bishop's death, the prison administration decided to release him and send him to Lviv.
After his return to Lviv in 1956 and due to his contracting hepatitis and a number of other diseases, Bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi was immediately hospitalised. Everybody was sure that Bishop Charnetskyi would soon die. But, the Lord had a different plan: He decided to prolong the life of a man whose faith and work was so valued and needed by the Ukrainian Church. Soon the bishop recovered and moved to an apartment in number 7 Vechirnia Street together with Br. Klymentiy, C.Ss.R. There, Bishop Charnetskyi continued his apostolate of endurance and prayer. He spent most of his time praying and reading. Those who visited the bishop in that period witnessed to have often found him in a state of ecstasy. During his stay in Lviv, Bishop Charnetskyi remained faithful to his mission of a Good Shepherd: he supported his confreres spiritually, prepared candidates for the priesthood and ordained more than ten priests.
Unfortunately, bishop Charnetskyi's "miraculous" recovery did not last long. On the 2nd of April 1959 the bishop died in a state of holiness. His last words were a cry calling on the aid of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The funeral of Bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi took place on the 4th of April 1959. The description of the funeral kept in the archive of Yorkton Province of CSsR (Canada) ends with the following words: "We all think that the day of his canonization will come - for he was indeed a saintly bishop".
Everybody who knew bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi gave an unanimous testimony of his sainthood. It was no surprise then that immediately after his death many people started addressing their prayers to Bishop Charnetskyi. One finds this impression of sainthood and of a powerful intercession before God during prayers at the bishop's tomb in the Lychakiv cemetery. Numerous people visit the place of Bishop Charnetskyi's burial to obtain his intercession when praying to God for various favours. One woman, whose arm was about to be amputated, applied soil from the bishop's grave to her arm, which resulted in a complete healing. Since then, people have been taking soil from his grave to remedy various diseases.
Taking into account the testimonies of bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi's virtuous life, and particularly his endurance, courage and faithfulness to the Christ's Church during the period of persecution, the beatification process was started in 1960. On 2 March 2001 the process was completed on the level of eparchy, and the case was handed over to the Apostolic See. On 6 April 2001 the theological committee recognized the fact of bishop Charnetskyi's martyrdom, on 23 April his martyrdom was verified by the Assembly of Cardinals, and on 24 April 2001 Most Holy Father John Paul II signed a decree of the beatification of bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi, a blessed martyr of Christian faith.
(Revised text from www.cssr.com, own edition)
Faithful unto death
During the three months spent in a death row cell, Fr. Velychkovskyi continued performing his duties of a priest. He taught prisoners to pray; he instructed them on the truths of Christian faith, and prepared them for receiving the Holy Sacraments. He led them to the doors of heaven. Finally, the night came when the guards led Fr. Velychkovskyi out of his cell. However, they did not go downstairs, to the place of execution, but upstairs, to the office of the prison administration. There, Fr. Velychkovskyi was informed that his death sentence was changed to a ten-year prison term.
In the first two years of his term Fr. Velychkovskyi was in a prison camp in the Kirovsk region; later, he was transferred to the Vorkuta mines. Despite the exhausting work, Fr. Velychkovkyi celebrated the Liturgy almost every day - using tins for liturgical accessories. "That tin" - says Metropolitan Hermaniuk - "was his chalice, his dyscos, his altar, his church … and nothing was able to destroy his church, for it was [based on his] strong conviction and God's grace". Several months before his release, Fr. Velychkovskyi's fellow prisoner friends managed to arrange for him to work in the prison hospital rather than in the mines. This change saved his life - for his health had been ruined by ten years of imprisonment and exhausting labour. On 9 July 1955 Fr. Velychkovskyi was released.
After his return to Lviv Fr. Velychkovskyi did not find any church or chapel where he could serve, but this did not discourage him. He occupied a small room in number 11 Vozzyednannia Street. Here, he built an altar out of empty cardboard boxes. The faithful visited Fr. Velychkovskyi in groups of five or six to participate in Liturgies. During the period of the Greek-Catholic Church's underground existence he was not afraid to celebrate daily Liturgy, to conduct spiritual exercises, and to provide spiritual leadership for many devoted Christians. In 1959 the Apostolic See appointed Fr. Vasyl Velychkovskyi a bishop of the "Silent Church"; because of a complicated situation in the Soviet Union, his Episcopal ordination became possible only four years later.
The ten-year-long imprisonment did not "correct" or change Bishop Velychkovskyi. He continued "spreading anticommunist propaganda among the people, did not participate in socially-useful work, did not perform the duties of a Soviet citizen; he wrote a book about the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, wherein attempts were made to prove through specific examples that atheists cannot be good citizens; he listened to Vatican radio broadcasts". This list was sufficient to justify a new arrest of Bishop Vasyl Velychkovskyi on 2 January 1969. This time the imprisonment lasted for three years; the term was served in Kommunarsk near Donbass and was the cause of a severe heart disease for Bishop Velychkovskyi.
Bishop of the "Silent Church"
On 27 January 1972 the second term of imprisonment was over. This time bishop Velychkovskyi was not allowed to return to Lviv; instead, he was sent to Yugoslavia for "recreation". He used this opportunity to visit his sister in Zagreb and then Bishop Velychkovskyi departed for Rome, where he met Patriarch Yosyf Slipyi. He also had a private conversation with Pope Paul VI. Shortly afterwards, following the invitation of Metropolitam Maksym Hermaniuk, Bishop Velychkovskyi visited Canada.
Unfortunately, his visit of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada did not last for long. On 30 June 1973 Bishop Velychkovskyi died at the age of 70 having served as a bishop for 10 years. Although his heart became silent in his body, it continues to sound in our souls: "Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev 2,10).
Taking into account the testimonies of Bishop Vasyl Velychkovskyi's virtuous life, and particularly his endurance, courage and faithfulness to Christ's Church during the period of persecution, the beatification process was started on the occasion of the Jubilee Year. On 2 March 2001 the process was completed on the level of eparchy, and the case was handed over to the Apostolic See. On 6 April 2001 the theological committee recognized the fact of bishop Velychkovskyi's martyrdom. On 23 April his martyrdom was verified by the Assembly of Cardinals, and on 24 April 2001 Most Holy Father John Paul II signed a decree of beatification of Bishop Vasyl Velychkovskyi, a blessed martyr of our Christian faith
(Revised text from www.cssr.com, own edition)
After his ordination Fr. Kovalyk departed, together with bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi, to the Volhyn region to serve the cause of reconciliation with Orthodox Ukrainians. The young priest was a true joy to his confreres. Fr. Kovalyk had a good sense of humour, beautiful voice and clear diction. He was a great singer and truly a preacher with a "golden mouth". His apostolic devotion attracted thousands of people. Fr. Kovalyk loved the Mother of God with all his heart, and always displayed sincere piety towards her. These qualities of Fr. Kovalyk brought him great success in his missionary activities.
Having spent several years working in the Volhyn region, Fr. Kovalyk moved to Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk) to conduct missions there, both in town and in suburban villages. Immediately before the Soviet invasion of 1939 he moved to Lviv, to the Redemptorist monastery in Zyblykevycha (now Ivana Franka) street, and took charge as economo of the monastery.
The courageous priest continued preaching the Word of God even after the Soviet invasion had started. An important field of Fr. Kovalyk's work was hearing confessions, and it is in this field that he had particular success: he was always approached by a great number of people seeking spiritual support.
While most of the Galician Ukrainians were overpowered by terror, Fr. Zynoviy displayed admirable courage. Most of the preachers were extremely cautious in their sermons. They tried to avoid the burning issues of the day and concentrated on exhorting people to be faithful to God. Fr. Kovalyk, on the contrary, was never afraid to openly condemn the atheistic customs introduced by the Soviet regime. His sermons had a great impact on the audience, but at the same time constituted no small danger for the preacher. When advised by his friends of the possible danger resulting from such manner of preaching, Fr. Kovalyk answered: "I will receive death gladly if such be God's will, but I shall never compromise my conscience as a preacher".
The last great sermon by Fr. Kovalyk took place in Ternopil on 28 August 1940 on the occasion of the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. That day, Fr. Kovalyk had some ten thousand faithful in his audience. His old dream of martyrdom was to come true in just a few months…
On 2 March 2001 the process was completed on the level of eparchy, and the case was handed over to the Apostolic See. On 6 April 2001 the theological committee recognized the fact of Fr. Kovalyk's martyrdom; on 23 April his martyrdom was verified by the Assembly of Cardinals, and on 24 April 2001 Most Holy Father John Paul II signed a decree of beatification of Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk, a blessed martyr of Christian faith.
(Revised text from www.cssr.com, own edition)
Blessed Ivan Ziatyk (1899-1952)
Ivan Ziatyk was born on 26 December 1899 in the village of Odrekhova, some 20 kilometers south-west of the town of Sanok (now a territory of Poland). His parents, Stefan and Maria, were poor peasants. When Ivan was 14, his father died. The burden of bringing up the child was taken up by his mother and elder brother Mykhailo, who took the place of his father for Ivan.
In his childhood, Ivan was very quiet and obedient. Already when studying in the village primary school, he displayed his capabilities as a gifted student. It was also possible to to notice the boy's profound piety. Ivan received his secondary education in the Sanok gymnasium, where he studied from 1911-1919. During his studies in the gymnasium, Ivan's academic performance was very good and his behaviour excellent. In 1919 Ivan Ziatyk entered the Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Przemysl, and he graduated with distinction on 30 June 1923. That same year, after having completed his theological studies, Ivan Ziatyk was ordained a priest.
From 1925-1935 Fr. Ziatyk worked as a prefect of the Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Przhemysl. In addition to the spiritual direction of the seminarians, he also contributed to their intellectual formation: He taught Catechetics and Dogmatic Theology at the same Seminary. In addition to his work at the Seminary, Fr. Ivan Ziatyk also performed the duties of spiritual director and catechetics teacher at the Ukrainian Girls' Gymnasium in Przemysl.
Fr. Ivan Ziatyk was a person of great kindness, obedience, and spiritual depth. He always made a deep impression on those around him. Fr. Ziatyk for quite a long time had had a desire to join a monastery. Although this intention was not welcomed by his Church superiors, on 15 July 1935 Fr. Ivan Ziatyk made the final decision to join the Redemptorist Congregation.
After completing his novitiate in Holosko (near Lviv) in 1936, Fr. Ziatyk was sent to the monastery of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk). However, he did not stay long: in autumn of 1937 Fr. Ziatyk moved to Lviv, to the monastery at number 56-58 Zyblykevycha (now Ivana Franka) Street. There, he took charge as economo of the monastery. Fr. Ziatyk's duty also was to substitute the superior, Fr. De Vocht, in his absence. In 1934 the Redemptorists opened their Seminary in Holosko, and Fr. Ziatyk joined its faculty as a professor of Scripture and Dogmatic Theology. From 1941-1944 Fr. Ziatyk was superior of the monastery of Dormition of Mother of God in Ternopil, and from 1944-1946 he was superior of the monastery of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Zboiska (near Lviv), where the Redemptorist gymnasium ("Juvenate") was based.
The end of World War II was the beginning of a terrible period in the history of Ukraine, of the Greek-Catholic Church, and of the Lviv Province of CSsR. Having arrested all the Greek-Catholic bishops, in the spring of 1946 Soviet secret police gathered Redemptorists from Ternopil, Stanislaviv, Lviv, and Zboiska to Holosko, and placed them in a non-heated wing of the monastery. Fr. Ziatyk was among those gathered in Holosko. Redemptorists stayed there for two years under constant surveillance of the secret police. Their presence was checked three or four times a week. The confreres were often taken for interrogation, in the course of which they were promised various benefits in exchange for betrayal of their faith and monastic vocation. On 17 October 1948 all the Redemptorists staying in Holosko were told to board trucks which transported them to the Studite monastery in Univ.
In 1950 Ziatyk is accused of being Redemptorist
Soon thereafter, the Redemptorist Provincial Fr. Joseph De Vocht was deported to Belgium. Before his departure, he transferred his duties of Provincial of the Lviv Province and of Vicar General of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to Fr. Ivan Ziatyk. This caused the police to pay special attention to Fr. Ziatyk. On 5 January 1950 a decision was made to arrest him, and on 20 January the warrant was issued. After numerous interrogations, on 4 February 1950 Fr. Ivan Ziatyk was accused: "Ivan Ziatyk indeed has been a member of the Redemptorist order since 1936; he promotes the ideas of the Roman Pope of spreading the Catholic Faith among the nations of the whole world and of making all Catholics".
The investigation of Fr. Ziatyk's case lasted for two years. Fr. Ziatyk spent the entire period in the Lviv and Zolochiv prisons. During the period from 4 July 1950 to 16 August 1951 alone, he was interrogated 38 times, while the total number of interrogations he underwent was 72. Despite the cruel tortures that accompanied interrogations, Fr. Ziatyk did not betray his faith and did not submit to the atheist regime, although his close relatives were accustomed to persuade him to do so.
Fr. Patrick Murray, General Superior 1909-1947
The verdict was announced to Fr. Ziatyk in Kiev on 21 November 1951. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for "cooperating with anti-Soviet nationalistic organization and anti-Soviet propaganda". The term was to be served in the Ozernyi Lager prison camp near the town of Bratsk in Irkutsk region.
During his imprisonment, Fr. Ziatyk suffered terrible tortures. According to witnesses, on Good Friday 1952 Fr. Ivan Ziatyk was heavily beaten with sticks, soaked in water, and left unconscious outside, in the Siberian frost. Beating and cold caused his death in a prison hospital three days later, on 17 May 1952. Fr. Ziatyk was buried in the Taishet district of Irkutsk region. The Great Architect laid another precious tile into the great mosaic of martyrdom…
Taking into account the testimonies of Fr. Ivan Ziatyk's virtuous life, and particularly his endurance, courage and faithfulness to the Christ's Church during the period of persecution, the beatification process was started on the occasion of the Jubilee Year. On 2 March 2001 the process was completed on the level of eparchy, and the case was handed over to the Apostolic See. On 6 April 2001 the theological committee recognized the fact of Fr. Ziatyk's martyrdom, on 23 April his martyrdom was verified by the Assembly of Cardinals, and on 24 April 2001 Most Holy Father John Paul II signed a decree of beatification of Fr. Ivan Ziatyk, a blessed martyr of Christian faith.
When German troops entered Lviv, they immediately opened the prisons to clean up the piles of corpses that had already started to decay. The people rushed to the prisons hoping to find their relatives. As the witnesses relate, the most horrible sight was that of a priest crucified upon the prison wall, his abdomen cut open and a dead human foetus pushed into the cut.
To characterize Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk, we can rightfully use the words from the vespers of Martyrs regarding the glorious and invincible warrior, who armed himself with the Cross, defeated the foe, and received the crown of victory from the only Victor and Ruler who reigns forever. The blessed martyrdom of Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk can serve as a graphic representation of the following words from Scripture: "The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and the suffering shall not meet them … For although the suffering has met them in the eyes of men, their hope is filled with immortality; having suffered a little, they will experience great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy of Him"(Wisdom 3,1.4-5).
Taking into account the testimonies of Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk's virtuous life, and particularly his endurance, courage and faithfulness to the Christ's Church during the period of persecution, the beatification process was started on the occasion of the Jubilee Year.