Ukraine-born Roman Catholic priest beatified in Karaganda
Pope Francis on Sunday beatified priest Władysław Bukowiński. The ceremony was held in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, where Bukowiński worked as a longtime missionary during the communist era. Bukowiński spent 13 years in Soviet labor camps.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the Mass of beatification of Blessed Wladyslaw Bukowinski.
“How much this man suffered!” Pope Francis said following his September 11 Angelus address. “How much! In his life he always demonstrated great love for the most weak and needy, and his testimony appears as a distillation of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”
Władysław Bukowiński was born on 22 December 1904 in Ukraine but was a naturalized Pole. In 1914 he began his education in Kyiv and then studied in Podillia. In 1920 the Bolshevik invasion caused him to move with his family in the village of Sandomierz.
He was ordained to the priesthood on 28 June 1931. Assigned to Lutsk, Volhynia in 1936. Arrested by the NKVD (Communist secret police) on 22 August 1940, and sentenced to eight years of hard labour for the crime of being a priest in a Communist-controlled area.
He was released when the German army over-ran the area. He resumed his pastoral work which now included hiding Jewish children with Catholic families. He was arrested again by the NKVD on the night of 3 January 1945, when Soviets retook western Ukraine, then was sentenced to more hard labour in the mines of modern Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He spent his time in prison ministering to other prisoners.
He was released from the gulag in 1955 and ordered to remain in exile in Kazakhstan. He became a Soviet citizen in June 1955 to stay with his faithful. Arrested in 1957 and sentenced to three more years in a labour camp for the crime of priesthood. Released in December 1961, he immediately resumed his work as parish priest and missionary in Kazakhstan which is predominantly Muslim.
He visited Poland three times between 1963 and 1973 where he met with the Archbishop of Krakow Karol Józef Wojtyła - the future pope Saint John Paul II.
Władysław Bukowiński died on 3 December 1974 in a Karaganda hospital due to a hemorrhage.