BLESSED ZENON KOWALYK C.Ss.R.

PRIEST and MARTYR

(1903-1941)

He was born August 18, 1903 in Ivanchiv Horishny (Ternopil). From childhood he was pious and had the dream of being a priest.

He was accepted into the Redemptorist Congregation and made his profession of vows on August 28, 1926. He was ordained August 9, 1932.

He was gifted with a clear, distinct singing voice. His joyful disposition was loved by the confreres and the people. People listened to his homilies with admiration.

During the first communist occupation in Halychyna, the Ukrainian Catholic Church was not openly persecuted. Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky was in charge of the church and the communists were afraid of him. However priests had to be very prudent in the way that they preached because there were spies and informants everywhere.

In these circumstances, Fr. Kowalyk courageously preached the Word of God and love for the Mother of God. His preaching strengthened the faith of the people and encouraged them to remain faithful to God and the Church. Because of this the communists detested him. The confreres and his friends warned him of the danger and asked him to be more cautious with his expressions, but he responded, saying: “If it is God’s will, I am ready to die, but I cannot be quiet in the face of such injustice.”

His desire to become a martyr for the faith was realized on December 20, 1940. On this day he was arrested in church during the celebration of the novena to the Mother of Perpetual Help. From here we lost track of him.

During the German invasion of the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941), the communists left the territory that they occupied in 1939. Before fleeing Lviv they massacred around 6000 prisoners in the prisons of the city. Fr. Zenon Kowalyk was among the victims. This was testified by some of those fortunate to escape being massacred. They recounted that Fr. Kowalyk was with them. In prison he continued his priestly mission: preaching confessing, strengthening the prisoners. God chose him to be there and help those people before their death. Witnesses claim that he died by being crucified on the wall of the prison.

If you would like more information about Blessed Nicholas, please contact our shrine office at:
204-338-7321 or bvshrine@mts.net