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OUR MARTYRS 2017-12-14T10:58:37+00:00

Blessed Bishop-Martyr Theodore G. Romzha

(1911-1947)

In the Carpathian Highlands of Eastern Europe in the village of Velikyj Bychkiv, Theodore George Romzha was born on April 14, 1911. His childhood was one of extreme poverty which in no way embittered him towards life. While fishing he liked to read which nourished his imagination and sharpened his already keen mind. It was from his mother that he inherited a genuine piety. He liked to pray and took an active part in church services. Although materially poor, he was spiritually rich and desired to become a priest. His pastor assisted him in entering the seminary. It was there that he gained the admiration and respect of both his fellow students and faculty members. His bishop later sent him to Rome to pursue further studies. His was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on Christmas Day 1936. Shortly afterwards, he was drafted into the army medical corps as a commissioned lieutenant for one year. Following his discharge, his bishop appointed him as an administrator to a small parish. He was a good pastor and the people admired him greatly. Fr. Romzha was one of the most dedicated priests of the Mukachevo Eparchy, and therefore was assigned as the spiritual director and professor at the seminary. On September 24, 1944, he was consecrated as bishop at the age of 33 thus making him the youngest bishop in the Catholic Church. A month later, the Soviet army marched into the cities of Uzhorod and Mukachevo. Bishop Romzha learned from his first contact with the Soviets that he could not trust them. In anticipation of open hostility, Bishop Romzha maintained personal contact with his clergy and faithful. Between 1945 and 1947, he personally visited every parish in the eparchy. When the Soviets confiscated his automobile, he travelled thousands of miles by horse and buggy. Finally, the decision was made to liquidate him. Following the celebration of Christ the King on October 26, 1947 in the small parish of Lavki, while returning back to Mukachevo, his cart was assailed by a Soviet military vehicle. The severely injured bishop was taken to the local hospital where his was poisoned days later on November 1st. The late Pope Blessed John Paul II beatified him in June 2001. Let us imitate his zealous faith and continue to pray fervently for his Canonization.

 

Blessed Bishop-Martyr Basil Hopko

(1904-1976)

Basil Hopko was born on April 21, 1904 in the Rusyn Village of Hrabske near Bardejov, Eastern Slovakia. His father passed away in 1905 leaving his mother Anna to travel to America for employment while leaving Basil and his sister, Mary, to be raised by her parents.

Basil’s uncle, Father Demetrius Petrenko, took on the responsibility for Basil’s education and was a great influence on him. In 1922 young Basil enrolled into the eparchial seminary in Preshov. Following his second year, he was drafted into the army. There he would gather all the Rusyn soldiers together and take them to Sunday services. Upon completing his military service, he completed seminary studies in 1928. He became very ill, and promised Christ through devotion of His Most Sacred Heart that if he would recover, he would be ordained in celibacy. The Lord heard his prayer and on February 3, 1929 he was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Paul P. Gojdich. Fr. Basil served his pastoral assignments faithfully displaying a great love for the poor, workers and Rusyn youth. Foreseeing a political overturn in Czechoslovakia in the autumn of 1946, Bishop Godjich petitioned Rome that Father Hopko serve as his auxiliary bishop. The request was granted. On April 28, 1950, the Communist government seized complete control of Czechoslovakia and liquidated the Preshov Eparchy. Bishop Hopko was imprisoned and tortured. Many years of imprisonment and harsh treatment took a final toll on his health. In the Spring of 1968, a liberalization of the Communist regime took place and the government agreed to re-establish the Church. He became chaplain to the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate who also took care of him. On Friday, July 23, 1976 following a light lunch, and being helped in an easy chair, he gave up his spirit to the Lord whom he loved and faithfully served. The late Pope Blessed John Paul II beatified him in September 2004. His relics were transferred to the Presov Cathedral, and rest beneath the altar adjacent to the chapel of Blessed Paul Gojdich. Let us eagerly imitate his faith and continue to fervently pray for his Canonization.

Archieparchial Office of the Causes of Beatification & Canonization

66 Riverview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA  15214

Blessed Bishop-Martyr Paul P. Gojdich, O.S.B.M.

(1988-1960)

Peter Gojdich was born to a priestly family in Sharis County of today’s Eastern Slovakia on July 17, 1888. At an early age his only desire was to become a celibate priest. Following his ordination for the Preshov Eparchy in August 1911, and serving a short tenure of pastoral work, he was assigned to teach religious education to the youth in the city. The young students found him to be an inspiring leader and an approachable spiritual father. He was also a chancery official, but afterwards felt drawn to a more peaceful and prayerful life. He entered the Basilian Order to become a Monk. It was at this time that he changed his name to Paul signifying a new vocation that he was embarking upon. His heart’s desire was shortly lived when he was summoned to Rome to be ordained a Bishop in March 1927. Although he protested against such an honor, he submitted through obedience. The late Pope Blessed Pius XI presented him with a pectoral cross prophetically stating, “This cross is only a symbol of those heavy crosses that you will have to carry in your Episcopal ministry. But take courage, my son, the good Lord will help you carry them with dignity and love.” In April 1950, Communism spread through the Preshov Eparchy. The atheistic government condemned him for his loyalty to the Catholic Church and sentenced him to prison. While in prison he excelled in holiness, and was reportedly gifted with the extra-ordinary gifts of bilocation, levitation and the stigmata of the Lord. He prayed for only two favors: (1) to pass peacefully to the Lord on his birthday, and (2) to have a priest near his side to anoint him with the Sacrament. Both requests were answered on July 17, 1960 just after 12 o’clock midnight. He was buried quickly in an uncommon grave with only a number to signify the placement of his mortal remains. He was beatified by the late Pope Blessed John Paul II on November 4, 2001. His relics were transferred to the Preshov Cathedral where they remain for veneration to this day. In recent years, he was posthumously awarded with the prestigious decree “Righteous Among the Nations” by the Hebraic Community due to his role in saving thousands of Jewish people from extermination during World War II. Let us imitate his uncompromising faith and whole-heartedly pray for his immediate Canonization.

Archieparchial Office of the Causes of Beatification & Canonization

66 Riverview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA  15214

The Servant of God, Bishop Alexander Chira

(1997-1983)

Coming from a large priestly family in the Maramorosh District of the Carpathian Highlands, the Servant of God, Alexander Chira was born on January 17, 1897. He was the oldest of 7 children. As  an  intellectually gifted young man, he graduated with honors in 1915. Following in the steps of his father, Cornelius, he felt a divine to the priesthood. Completing the theological formation program he was ordained a priest in Uzhorod on the Feast of Saint Nicholas, December 19, 1920. In 1924, he succeeded Father Basil Takach as  spiritual  director of the Uzhorod Seminary, and was the professor of Church History, Canon Law and was a gifted Orator. He was elevated to the episcopacy in 1944 and Bishop Romzha appointed him as his Vicar General. His diplomatic ability and iron clad logic frustrated all Soviet attempts to discredit the young Bishop Romzha in the eyes of the faithful. He dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the defense of the Mukachevo Eparchy and its faithful against Soviet aggression. Following Bishop Romzha’s violent death in 1947, the Soviets promised him honors if he would bring the eparchy under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarch. His answer was decisive: “I was born a Greek Catholic, and I also want to die a Greek Catholic!” During the night of February 10, 1949, the Soviets incarcerated him and tried him for “sabotage and slander against the Soviet Union.” When they learned that he was secretly ordained  a bishop they tried him again in Kiev for “treason.” As a “traitor of the Soviet Union” he was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment with the loss of his civil rights. He was deported to Central Siberia to work in the coal mines. In 1956, the government granted general amnesty to all political prisoners. He returned to his native village and secretly continued pastoral work. During Christmas of 1957, he was apprehended by the Soviet police and sentenced to 5 years of forced labor to the mining labor camps near Karaganda in Central Asia. He was ill-treated, tortured and forbidden to do any pastoral work, but under the cover of nightfall, he continued to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, hear Confessions, baptize children, marry young people and take care of the sick and dying. Bishop Chira died in exile in his sleep on May 26, 1983, and was buried by the wall of the church he helped to build. Let us  imitate the faith he portrayed and fervently pray for his Beatification.

Archieparchial Office of the Causes of Beatification & Canonization 66 Riverview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15214