The 20th century, a time of great turmoil and conflict, was also a period that bore witness to countless acts of faith and sacrifice. Among the many brave souls who lived during this time, one man’s story continues to inspire us today – Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky. His life reminds us of the profound strength of faith and the power of resilience in the face of adversity.
Born on June 1, 1903, in Stanislaviv, Ukraine, Vasyl Velychkovsky was drawn towards spiritual life from an early age. At just 19 years old, he joined the Redemptorist novitiate in Holosko, embarking on a journey that would see him become a beacon of faith and hope for many. He was ordained a priest in 1925 and his charisma, dedication, and unwavering commitment to his calling propelled him to become a significant figure within the Redemptorist Order.
However, his journey was not without its trials. During the tumultuous times of World War II, Vasyl was arrested by the Soviet NKVD for being the head of an ‘illegal’ religious organization. Despite the severe persecution and accusations, Vasyl remained steadfast in his faith. He was sentenced to three years in prison, where he was subjected to intense physical and psychological torture. Yet, his spirit remained unbroken, his faith unshaken.
Upon his release in 1944, Blessed Vasyl found himself facing more challenges. During a time when religious repression was rampant under the Soviet regime, he was secretly consecrated as a bishop. This clandestine ministry continued until 1969, when he was once again arrested and sentenced to death. However, his sentence was later commuted to ten years in a labor camp.
Even amidst the harsh conditions of the labor camp, Vasyl’s resilience shone through. He served his fellow prisoners, offering them spiritual guidance and comfort, embodying the teachings he so fervently believed in. After his release in 1972, he was exiled from his homeland. But even in exile, Vasyl continued his mission. He relocated to Canada, where he helped further the mission of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, continuing to serve his community with unwavering devotion.
Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky passed away on June 30, 1973, leaving behind an enduring legacy of faith, resilience, and unwavering devotion. His beatification in 2001 by Pope John Paul II affirmed his place among the blessed. Today, the Bishop Velychkovsky National Martyr’s Shrine in Manitoba, Canada, stands as a testament to his life and sacrifice. It serves as a place of pilgrimage, prayer, and reflection, inspiring visitors with the story of this 20th-century martyr.
Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky’s life is a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of faith. Despite the relentless persecution and adversity he faced, he remained steadfast in his commitment to his faith and his ministry. His story continues to inspire us, reminding us of the power of resilience and the enduring strength of faith.
Intercessory Prayer to Blessed Vasyl
O great and holy martyr, our blessed father Vasyl, you were on fire with God’s Word and have followed His Will even unto death. You have been sanctified and purified by the Cross and now you stand in God’s Presence wearing the martyr’s crown interceding on our behalf. You, who have confidence before the Lord, pray for us who come to you with love and devotion. For we come to you with all our needs knowing that the Lord hears His faithful ones.
Intercede for us before the Almighty God, that each one receives according to their needs; bring comfort to the sorrowful and hope to the lost; heal the sick; give courage to the young; bring a change of heart to all those who fall into sin; enlighten our minds with the truth of the Gospel; inspire us always to follow Christ; help us always to choose the good; give us courage in times of distress, faith in times of despair, hope in times of darkness; and strengthen our commitment to love our Lord. Grant that each one of us be saved through the grace and mercy of God, that together with you we may praise and glorify Him who is wondrous in His saints: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen