KARAGANDA, Kazakhstan (CNS) — A Vatican official beatified a Polish-born priest deported to Soviet-ruled Central Asia who volunteered to stay on and minister to Catholics.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said Father Wladyslaw Bukowinski, who died in 1974, prayed to overcome “fear, hunger and violence, continuing his service at risk of being arrested and sent back to the gulag.”
“His trials before Soviet courts and his time in labor camps gave him a pulpit for witness and evangelization, from which he taught love of God and neighbor, showing how faith could bring down walls,” Cardinal Amato said during the Sept. 11 beatification Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral.
He said the priest had been a “courageous missionary of Christ in distant lands of Eastern Europe” and found “safety through faith in God and divine providence” at a time of religious persecution and “physical and moral suffering.”
Born in 1904 at Berdychiv, now in Ukraine, Blessed Bukowinski studied law and theology in Krakow, Poland, where he was ordained in 1931. He was arrested by the Soviet secret police as a “Vatican agent” in 1940.
After a decade ministering to prisoners and forced laborers in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan, he voluntarily sought Soviet citizenship in 1954 to continue his work and became the first Catholic priest for two decades to visit German-speaking Catholics in neighboring Tajikistan.
Rearrested in 1958 for running “illegal Catholic assemblies,” he spent three years in Siberia before returning to Karaganda, where he continued ministering until his death.
The beatification Mass, concelebrated by bishops from Russia and Poland, was attended by Father Mariusz Kowalski, whose unexplained cure from a brain hemorrhage at Karaganda in 2008 was attributed to the intercession of Blessed Bukowinski.
Cardinal Amato said the priest had always been convinced “Russia would return to Christ” and had viewed his own arrest and deportation as providential events enabling him to reach “places of suffering.”
In a Sept. 11 Angelus message in Rome, Pope Francis said Blessed Bukowinski “always showed great love for the weakest and neediest,” despite being “persecuted for his faith.”
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: