Mykolay (Nicholas) Charnetskyi was born to a large and pious peasant family on the 14th of December 1884 in the Western Ukrainian village of Semakivka. Charnetskyi discovered his vocation to the priesthood at a young age and soon declared his intention of becoming a priest. In 1903 bishop Hryhoriy Khomyshyn sent him to Rome for studies. During Charnetskyi's short visit to Ukraine, bishop Hryhoriy Khomyshyn ordained him a priest on the 2nd of October 1909. Fr. Mykolay then returned to Rome to continue his studies and received the degree of Doctor of theology. From the autumn of 1910 Fr. Charnetskyi was professor of Philosophy and Dogmatic theology at the Stanislaviv seminary. He was also the Spiritual Director in the same seminary.(1)
(1884-1959; Feast Day: June 28)
From the autumn of 1910 Fr. Charnetskyi was professor of Philosophy and Dogmatic theology at the Stanislaviv seminary. He was also the Spiritual Director in the same seminary. Deep in his heart, however, Fr. Mykolay longed for the monastic life. Hence, in October 1919 he joined the Redemptorist novitiate in Zboiska near Lviv, and one year later, on the 16th of October 1920, he professed his vows as a Redemptorist. Filled with eagerness to work for the reconciliation of Christians and to convert the spiritually abandoned people, in 1926 the Redemptorists of the Lviv Province founded a missionary center at Kovel in the Volyn region. Fr. Charnetskyi, being an ardent missionary, was sent there. Very soon he gained the utmost respect of the local people and even that of the Orthodox clergy. Having opened a monastery and a church in Kovel, Fr. Mykolay did his best to preserve the purity of the Eastern Liturgical rite. In 1931, taking into account Fr. Charnetskyi's devoted work, Pope Pius XI appointed him titular bishop of Lebed and an Apostolic Visitor for the Ukrainian Catholics in the Volyn and Pidliashsha regions. These regions became the field of Charnetskyi's activity - first as a missionary, then as a bishop - for almost 14 years.(2)
During World War II he was in Lviv, ministering pastorally and teaching at the theological academy. From 1945-56, he was imprisoned in about 30 Soviet labor camps and prisons.(3) According to credible sources, during the period of his imprisonment (from his arrest in Lviv in April 1945 until his release in 1956), Bishop Charnetskyi spent altogether 600 hours under torture and interrogations, and at different times was imprisoned in 30 prisons and prison camps. Despite all these sufferings, the bishop always managed to find a word of consolation for his fellow prisoners. He supported them morally and he knew all of them by name. It is no wonder that bishop Charnetskyi was very popular among the prisoners, as he was the only source of consolation for them.(2) Following his release in 1956, he returned to Lviv and acted as bishop of the suppressed Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. In January 1959, Bishop Nicholas again fell ill; he returned to the hospital and was operated on for intestinal cancer. The operation was successful, but nevertheless on 2 April 1959 the bishop had a relapse and died, very peacefully.(4) Due to many regarding him as a saint, people began visit his grave and to ask for his heavenly intercession immediately. Today people continue to claim that miracles happen through his intercession. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his pastoral visit to Ukraine on 27 June 2001. This date was significant as it is the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the patroness of the Redemptorists.(5) Bl. Charnetskyi is one of the four Redemptorist Martyrs of Ukraine.
Reference: (1) The Redemptorists, Blesseds: <http://www.cssr.com/english/saintsblessed/charnetskyi.shtml>; (2) Saints Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, Saskatchewan : <http://www.sspp.ca/Charnetsky.htm>; (3) The Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province, Saints in the Making: <http://www.redemptorists.net/saints-other.cfm>; (4) Religion, State & Society, Vol. 24, No. 1,1996; Nicholas Charnetsky, CSsR, Bishop-Confessor by Stephen Joseph Bachtalowsky, CSsR (translated by George J. Pereira, CSsR). Yorkton, Saskatchewan: Redeemers Voice Press, n.d., 272 pp. <http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/rss/24-1_067.pdf>; (5) Wikipedia, Nicholas Charnetsky: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Charnetsky>.
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