Spirituality for Today – June 2010 – Volume 14, Issue 11

Saint of the Month

Bl. Basil Velychkovsky, June 30

Basil Velychkovsky was born on June 1, 1903 in Stanislaviv in the Ukraine. His parents were Roman Catholics unlike most Ukrainians who belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church. After high school he joined the Congregation of Redemptorists. He spent a few years in the monastery, praying and studying theology. In 1925 he professed solemn vows and was ordained according to the Eastern rite. He started to preach Gospel in Ukrainian villages and towns. He was a serious man with a talent for preaching, and quickly became very popular and respected. Fr. Velychkovsky did not stop work even during the war. In 1942 he became igumen, or prior, of the Eastern rite Redemptorist monastery in Ternopil.

A photo of Basil VelychkovskyBl. Basil Velychkovsky

After the war he was arrested by the KGB and sentenced to death. The sentence was converted to 10 years of hard labor in Siberian gulags. In the camps he risked his life celebrating masses and hearing confessions. In 1955 he returned to Lviv in very poor health.

After his release, Fr. Velychkovsky committed himself to evangelization despite persecution of the Catholic Church by communist authorities. It can be said that he was a member of the "silent Church" that carried out evangelization work in secret. In 1959 Pope John XXIII appointed him a bishop. Fearing arrest, the consecration was celebrated in a Moscow hotel. In 1969 he was incarcerated for three years. In 1972 the communists, worried about Fr. Velychkovsky's authority, expelled him from the country. He settled in Canada and died a year later, surrounded by the reverence of Ukrainian immigrants. He was beatified in 2001.

You who granted upon the Blessed Basil
the grace of endurance in the fact of oppression,
grant us deep faith that will not break in danger,
so that we may fearlessly profess faith in You
and be welcome to Father's house,
who lives and reigns forever and ever.

From Ordinary People Extraordinary Lives