Blessed Vasyl Velychkovskyy to become heavenly patron of the UGCC prison chaplains
The UGCC prison chaplains will soon get their heavenly patron. He will be Vasyl Velychkovskyy, the blessed hieromartyr and years-long prisoner of the Soviet GULAG and the locum tenens of the underground Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine.
The blessed Vasyl will be declared a heavenly patron of prison chaplains on July 19-20 during a traditional All-Ukraine and Youth pilgrimage to St. Mary’s spiritual center in Zarvanytsia.
According to the UGCC Information Department the figure of the Blessed Vasyl was elected not by chance: he got to the NKVD confines, and during his stay in inhuman conditions in the death ward the saint showed by his own example how to preserve human dignity and teach it other people.
Head the Department for pastoral care of the UGCC prison service Fr. Kostyantyn Panteley notes that the NKVD arrested the blessed Vasyl for his pastoral activity and the court ruled death verdict for him. Soon the verdict was changed for ten years of imprisonment in concentration camps of Vorkuta. But neither the death threat nor the long years spent in captivity had shaken the priests’ faith.
Having received the death verdict and staying for three month in a death ward the blessed Vasyl found himself among prisoners who understood with a trembling heart that their life would finish soon and everything connected with their relations with God acquired extremely important meaning. How to preserve dignity? How not to be in despair? How not to be asking for mercy? They turned to him so that he strengthened them”, Fr. Kostyantyn noted.