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Church of St. Alphonsus, Singapore

Bl. Zynoviy Kovalyk

 (1903-1941; Feast Day: June 28)

Reference: Above extracted from - Redemptorists, Province of Bangalore: <http://www.cssr.in/index.php?q=content/bl-zynoviykovalyk>.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The courageous priest continued preaching the Word of God even after the Soviet invasion had started. An important field of Fr. Kovalyk's work was hearing confessions, and it is in this field that he had particular success: he was always approached by a great number of people seeking spiritual support. Fr. Kovalyk was never afraid to openly condemn the atheistic customs introduced by the Soviet regime. His sermons had a great impact on the audience, but at the same time constituted no small danger for the preacher. When advised by his friends of the possible danger resulting from such manner of preaching, Fr. Kovalyk answered: "I will receive death gladly if such be God's will, but I shall never compromise my conscience as a preacher".

The last great sermon by Fr. Kovalyk took place in Ternopil on 28 August 1940 on the occasion of the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. That day, Fr. Kovalyk had some ten thousand faithful in his audience. His old dream of martyrdom was to come true in just a few months. On the night of 20-21 December 1940 the agents of the Soviet secret police entered the Redemptorist monastery to arrest Fr. Kovalyk for his sermons on the Novena of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, which he had been delivering in the monastery's church. Before leaving his confreres, Fr. Kovalyk asked his superior Fr. De Vocht for the last blessing and absolution. Although the Redemptorists had long tried to find out about their arrested confrere, it was only in April 1941 that they received information about Fr. Kovalyk being kept in prison in Zamarstynivska street (the so-called "Brygidky" prison). During his six months long imprisonment, Fr. Kovalyk underwent 28 painful interrogations; three times he was brought to other prisons and interrogated there. After one such interrogation, which was accompanied by especially cruel tortures, Fr. Kovalyk fell seriously ill due to considerable loss of blood. 

In 1941, when German troops started their offensive, the prison keepers, eager to flee but not able to take the prisoners along, started shooting the inmates. However, it was not enough for them just to shoot Fr. Kovalyk: reminding him of his sermons about the crucified Christ, they nailed Fr. Kovalyk to the prison wall in full view of his fellow prisoners. When German troops entered Lviv, they immediately opened the prisons to clean up the piles of corpses that had already started to decay. The people rushed to the prisons hoping to find their relatives. As the witnesses relate, the most horrible sight was that of a priest crucified upon the prison wall, his abdomen cut open and a dead human foetus pushed into the cut.

Taking into account the testimonies of Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk's virtuous life, and particularly his endurance, courage and faithfulness to the Christ's Church during the period of persecution, the beatification process was started on the occasion of the Jubilee Year. On 6 April 2001 the theological committee recognized the fact of Fr. Kovalyk's martyrdom; on 23 April his martyrdom was verified by the Assembly of Cardinals, and on 24 April 2001 Most Holy Father John Paul II signed a decree of beatification of Fr. Zynoviy Kovalyk, a blessed martyr of Christian faith.

Bl. Kovalyk

​​​​​​​​​​​Zynoviy Kovalyk was born on 18 August 1903 in the village of Ivachiv Horishniy near Ternopil to a poor peasant family. Before becoming a monk he worked as a primary school teacher in his village. He had a strong character and never compromised his faith. The dream of Zynoviy's childhood was to become a priest. Zynoviy Kovalyk joined the Redemptorists and  professed vows as a Redemptorist on 28 August 1926.  After his return to Ukraine, on 9 August 1932 Zynoviy Kovalyk was ordained a priest. Then he left with bishop Mykolay Charnetskyi to the Volhyn region to serve the cause of reconciliation with Orthodox Ukrainians. Fr. Kovalyk had a good sense of humour, beautiful voice and clear diction. He was a great singer and truly a preacher with a "golden mouth". His apostolic devotion attracted thousands of people. Fr. Kovalyk loved the Mother of God with all his heart, and always displayed sincere piety towards her. These qualities of Fr. Kovalyk brought him great success in his missionary activities.