Beatification (from Latin beatus, blessed) is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person’s entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name (intercession of saints). Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process. A person who is beatified is in English given the title “Blessed”.
On June 27, 2001, Pope John Paul II beatified 27 martyrs for the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Among them were four Redemptorists: Mykolay (Nicholas) Charnetsky (1884-1959); Vasyl (Basil) Vsevolod Velychkovsky (1903-1941); Ivan Ziatyk (1899-1952); and Zynoviy (Zenon) Kovalyk (1903-1941).
Peter Donders was born in Tilburg, Holland, on 27th October 1809 and ordained priest on 5th June 1841. In 1856 he was sent to the leper station of Batavia; and this was to be, with very few interruptions, the scene of his labours for the rest of his life. When the Redemptorists arrived in 1866 to take charge of the mission of Surinam, Father Donders and one of his fellow priests applied for admission into the Congregation.
He died on 14th January 1887. The fame of his sanctity spreading beyond Surinam and his native Holland, his cause was introduced in Rome. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 23rd May 1982.
Feastday 28th June
Mykolay Charnetskyi was born to a large and pious peasant family on the 14th of December 1884 in the Western Ukrainian village of Semakivka, the eldest of nine children.
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.
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. He soon gained the 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.
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. Bishop Charnetskyi was arrested on 11 April 1945 and held in the prison of the Soviet secret police in Lonskoho street. There, he 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 where he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment for the crime of being a “Vatican agent”.
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, supporting them and knowing all of them by name. He was very popular among the prisoners, as he was the only source of consolation for them.
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 that he would live. In order to avoid any blame on the Soviet regime for 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 he was spared for a further three years recovering and moving to an apartment in number 7 Vechirnia Street. On the 2nd of April 1959 the bishop died.
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.
Vasyl Vsevolod Velychkovskyi was born on 1st 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.
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 Metropolitan 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 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 anti-communist phrases (“red horde” and “red gang”) which occurred in a pocket calendar issued by Fr. Velychkovskyi in Stanislaviv in 1939.
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 severe heart disease for Bishop Velychkovskyi.
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 Metropolitan Maksym Hermaniuk, Bishop Velychkovskyi visited Canada.
Unfortunately, his visit to the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada did not last for long. Bishop Velychkovskyi died on 30 June 1973 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 the 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.
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. 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.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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Zynoviy (Zenon) 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. 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.
Returning to Ukraine, on 9 August 1932 Zynoviy Kovalyk was ordained a priest. After his ordination Fr. Kovalyk departed, together with bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi, to the Volhyn region to serve the cause of reconciliation with Orthodox Ukrainians. 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 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) St. This 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.
Many Galician Ukrainians were overpowered by terror by the ruling Soviet regime, Fr. Zynoviy displayed admirable courage. 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”.
On the night of 20-21 December 1940 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.
Only in April 1941 did the Redemptorists receive 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 whilst sharing a tiny (4×3.5metres) and unfurnished cell with 32 other inmates. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Fr. Julián Pozo Y Ruiz de Samaniego
Fr. Julián Pozo Y Ruiz de Samaniego was born in Payueta (Álava) January 7, 1903.
He entered the Redemptorist seminary of El Espino in 1913, where he was much appreciated for the seriousness of his spiritual journey. He professed vows in 1920 and was ordained a priest on September 27,1925.
Suffering from tuberculosis since 1921, he was able to accept the disease with resignation, devoting himself to prayer, hearing confessions and caring for the sick. Of a serene disposition, he was much sought after for his gifts as a confessor and spiritual director.
In 1928 he was transferred to the apostolic community of Cuenca. He then moved to the seminary because of the outbreak of persecution. There, on August 9, 1936. he was arresed while praying the rosary, and was shot along the road that leads from Cuenca to Tragacete.
Blessed Francis X. Seelos (1819 – 1867)
Feastday 5th October
Francis Xavier Seelos was born on January 11, 1819 in Füssen, Bavaria, Germany. He was baptized on the same day in the parish church of St. Mang. Having expressed a desire for the priesthood since childhood, he entered the diocesan seminary in 1842 after having completed his studies in philosophy.
Soon after meeting the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded for the evangelization of the most abandoned, he decided to enter the congregation and to minister to the German speaking immigrants in the United States. He was accepted by the Congregation on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France arriving in New York on April 20, 1843.
On December 22, 1844, after having completed his novitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a Priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. He then worked for nine years in the parish of St. Philomena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first as assistant pastor with St. John Neumann, the superior of the Religious Community, and later as Superior himself and for the last three years as pastor.
During this time, he was also the Redemptorist Novice Master. With Neumann he also dedicated himself to preaching missions. Regarding their relationship, Seelos said: “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as a spiritual director and confessor”. His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful, quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people came to him even from neighboring towns.
Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practiced a simple life style and a simple manner of expressing himself. The themes of his preaching, rich in biblical content, were always heard and understood even by the simplest people. He was deeply committed to instructing children in the faith, holding this as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the Parish.
In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh, to Baltimore, then Cumberland in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in Parish ministry and serving in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students. Even in this post, he was true to his character remaining always the kind and happy pastor, attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, the spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of people.
In 1860 he was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Pope Pius IX, from 1863 until 1866 he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German throughout the USA.
After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was readily available to his people and always concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned. In September, exhausted from visiting and caring for the victims of Yellow Fever, he contracted the dreaded disease.
After several weeks of patiently enduring his illness, he died on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48 years.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II, proclaimed Father Seelos Blessed in St. Peter’s Square on April 9th of the Solemn Jubilee Year 2000.
Fr. José Javier G. Jaunarena
Fr. José Javier G. Jaunarena was born in Urroz (Navarra) August 7, 1877. At age 14, against the wishes of his father, he entered the Capuchin College at Lecároz. At age 16 he entered the Redemptorists, made his profession on September 8, 1896 and was ordained a priest on September 28, 1903.
After a few years of teaching at El Espino (Burgos) and Astorga (León), he lived in the communities of Pamplona (Navarra), Madrid and Cuenca. He was a man of considerable culture as well as being a popular missionary, an expert confessor and a sought after spiritual director. He published two historical works and wrote a manual of philosophy.
On August 10, 1936, he was arrested by the militia of the Popular Front, which took him to the cemetery of Cuenca and shot him during which he forgave his executioners.
Fr. Pedro Romero Espejo
Fr. Pedro Romero Espejo was born in Pancorbo (Burgos) April 28, 1871.He entered the Redemptorist school at El Espino and was eventually professed on September 24, 1889.
He was ordaned on February 29, 1896/ He was an extremely shy person and not given to outgoing missionary activity. So he devoted his life to the ministry of reconciliation, and to a religious life of meditation, prayer and mortification, witnessing a great spirit of poverty to others.
After being in the communities of Astorga (León) and Madrid, he was transferred Cuenca. With the outbreak of the civil war, he was forced to leave the community and to live, as was the case for the other colleagues, wtih a local family in their private home. To escape the attention of the persecutors and continue to engage in the apostolate, he chose to go begging in the streets of the city.
Detained several times by the militia, ultimately, in May 1938 he was arrested and taken to prison, where, physically and spiritually ministered to by other priests being held prisoner, he died of dysentery on May 29th.
Blessed Methodius Dominick Trčka (1886-1959)
Feastday 25th August
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.
Methodius Dominick Trčka 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.
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.
Feastday 30th June
Gennaro Maria Sarnelli, the son of the Baron of Ciorani, was born in Naples on September 12, 1702.
At the age of 14 following the beatification of Francis Regis he decided to become a Jesuit. Having been dissuaded by his father because of his youth he began the study law and took his Doctorate in ecclesiastical and civil law in 1722. He distinguished himself at the Bar and was enrolled in the Congregation of the Knights of the Legal and Medical Professions directed by the Pious Workers at St. Nicholas of Toledo. Among the rules of this Association there was the obligation of visiting the sick in the Hospital of the Incurables. It was here he heard the call of the Lord to become a priest.
In September 1728 he became a seminarist and was incardinated by Cardinal Pignatelli as a cleric in the parish of St. Anne di Palazzo.
On May 28 1731 he concluded his novitiate and on July 8 of the following year he was raised to the Priesthood. During these years in addition to his visits to the hospital he devoted himself to helping young children forced to work and to teaching them the catechism. He also visited the old people in the Hospice of St. Gennaro and those condemned to the galleys who were ill in the hospital at the docks. These were also the years when he developed a friendship with St. Alphonsus de Liguori and his apostolate. Together they devoted themselves to teaching the catechism to laypeople by organizing the Evening Chapels.
Following his ordination he was assigned by Cardinal Pignatelli as Director of Religious Instruction in the parish of Sts. Francis and Matthew in the Spanish quarter. Having become aware of the rampant corruption of young girls he decided to direct all his energy against prostitution. In the same period (1733) he tenaciously defended St. Alphonsus against unjust criticism after he had founded the missionary Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in Scala (SA) on November 9 1732. In June of the same year having gone to Scala to help his friend during the mission at Ravello, he decided to become a Redemptorist while at the same time continuing to be a member of the Apostolic Missions.
From his entrance into the Congregation in April 1736 he committed himself unsparingly to parish missions and to writing in defense of “young girls in danger”.
Despite permanent ill health, he continued to preach until the end of April 1744 when by now extremely ill he returned to Naples where he died on June 30 at the age of 42. His body lies at rest in Ciorani, the first Redemptorist Church.
Gennaro Maria Sarnelli has left us 30 works which treat of meditation, mystical theology, spiritual direction, law, pedagogy, moral and pastoral themes. By his social action in favour of women he is considered one of the authors who treated this subject most fully in the Europe of the first half of the eighteenth century.
On May 12 1996, Pope John Paul II beatified him in St. Peter’s Square.
Fr. Ciriaco Olarte Y Pérez Mendiguren
Fr. Ciriaco Olarte Y Pérez Mendiguren was born in Gomecha (Álava) on February 8, 1893 into a very religious family. Encouraged from childhood towards a priestly vocation, Oriented since childhood to priestly vocation September 21, 1904, he entered Redemptorist formation on September 21, 1904 at El Espino (Burgos) and professed his religious vows on September 8, 1
After being ordained a priest on July 29, 1917, he went to Mexico as a missionary from 1920 to 1926. He returned to Spain and the growing anti-clerical spirit in the Mexico of that time. From 1926 to 1935, he exercised his apostolic ministry in Madrid, at the community of Perpetual Help.
In May 1935 he settled in Cuenca. In the evening of July 31, 1936, he was arrested and taken to the place called “Las Angustias” where, severely wounded, was left to die after long hours of agony.
Blessed Kaspar Stanggassinger (1871-1889)
Feast day 26th September
Kaspar Stanggassinger, born in 1871 in Berchtesgaden, in southern Germany was the second of 16 children. His father was a farmer and owned a stone quarry.
From his youth he had a growing desire to become a priest. When he was ten years old he went to Freising to continue his schooling.He found the studies rather difficult. His father told him that if he did not pass his exams he would have to leave school.
With a strong will, remarkable dedication and fidelity to prayer, he steadily made progress. In the years that followed he began, during vacation, to gather groups of boys around himself to encourage them in the Christian life, to form a community among them and to organize their free time. Every day the group went to Mass, took a walk or went on a pilgrimage. Kaspar’s dedication to them was admirable and extended even to risking his life to save one boy in danger when mountain climbing.
He entered the diocesan seminary of Munich and Freising in 1890 to begin his study of theology. Very soon it was clear to him that the Lord was calling him to live his vocation in as a religious. After a visit to the Redemptorists, he was inspired to follow their vocation as missionary. In spite of his father’s opposition he entered the Redemptorist novitiate at Gars in 1892 and was ordained a priest in Regensburg in 1895.
Kaspar Stanggassinger had entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer with the intention of being a missionary. However, he was appointed by his superiors to form future missionaries as vice-director of the minor seminary of Durrnberg, near Hallein. He dedicated himself completely to this responsibility.
Each week he spent 28 hours teaching in the classroom and yet was always available to the boys. On Sundays he never failed to offer his help at the churches in the neighboring villages, especially by preaching.
Even with such a schedule of work he was always patient and understanding with the needs of others, particularly the students who saw in him more a friend than a superior. Although the rules of formation at that time were very strict, Kaspar never acted harshly, and anytime he had the impression that he had wronged someone he immediately apologized humbly.
Deeply devoted to Jesus in the Eucharist, he invited the boys and the faithful to whom he preached to have recourse to the Blessed Sacrament in times of need and anxiety. His preaching was a constant reminder to the faithful to take the christian life seriously, growing in faith by means of prayer and continual conversion. His style was direct and appealing, without threats of punishment as was common in the preaching of that time.
In 1899 the Redemptorist opened a new seminary in Gars. Father Stanggassinger was transferred there as director. He was 28 years old. He only had time to preach one retreat to the students and to participate in the opening of the school year.
On September 26 he died from peritonitis.
The Cause of his Beatification began, in 1935, with the transferring of the body into the side-chapel of the Church of Gars.
On 24 April 1988 he was proclaimed ‘Blessed’ by the Holy Father, John Paul II.
Fr. Miguel Goñi Ariz
Fr. Miguel Goñi Ariz was born in Imarcoain (Navarra) April 27, 1902. Manifesting the desire to become a priest even as a child, he would enter the Redemptorists on September 8, 1918 and professed his vows on August 26, 1920.
Despite poor health and a shy nature, he was ordained a priest on September 27, 1925 and proved to be a strong and tireless preacher of popular missions.
After serving in the communities of Nava del Rey (Valladolid), Granada, Santander and Vigo, he was transferrred in 1932 to Cuenca, where he ministered especially in the Redemptorist Church of St. Phillip Neri. On August 31, 1936 he was arrested by the militia, shot and left to bleed to death.
Bro. Victor (Victoriano) Calvo Lozano
Bro. Victor (Victoriano) Calvo Lozano was born in Horche (Guadalajara) December 23, 1896.
Distinctly inclined to the spiritual life, he wanted to become a priest. Unfortunately, the times, the reluctance of his family to allow him and financial constraints all mitigated against starting his studies. On March 31, 919, in a letter he left with his family explaining his reasons, he left them to become a Redemptorist.
On November 13, 1920 he made his religious profession, taking the name Victoriano. In 1921 he was assigned to the Redemptorist community in Cuenca, where he worked as a clerk and porter. Although he had not attended school, he had an innate sense of culture, excelling particularly in a deep knowledge of asceticism. Hhis superiors permitted him to be a spiritual director for young womenllowe, he was also allowed to be spiritual director of a young woman, for whom he wrote a series of retreats and other works.
On August 10, he was arrested by the militia, taken to the cemetery of Cuenca, and brutally murdered.