Our Saints & Blesseds

Ivan Ziatek

posted on 02/09/10 12:30 am by Fr. Santo Arrigo C.Ss.R.  

Ivan Ziatek, a priest and vicar general of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, was born at Odrekhova (Sjanok, Sanok) in Galizia, on December 26, 1899. His parents, Stepan and Maria were simple country folk living in poverty.

After high school at Sjanok, he entered the seminary of Peremyshl in 1919, and was ordained priest in 1923. From 1925 to 1935 he was prefect and professor of dogmatic theology and catechetics in the seminary at Peremyshl. In 1935 he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Following his novitiate in Gholosko (Lviv) he was sent first to Stanislaviv (Ivano-Frankivs’k) and then to Lviv to be bursar. Later he taught dogma and Sacred Scripture in the Redemptorist studendate at Gholosko. From 1941 to 1944 he was superior at Ternopil’ and from 1944 to 1946 he was engaged in education work in Zbojiska.

On the outbreak of persecution, the soviets required all Redemptorists in the Western Ukraine to gather in the monastery of Gholosko. Here, fifty-eight Redemptorists were complied to live in the unheated part of the property, in conditions so inhumane that barely fifteen peoples should have been housed there. After a couple of years, they were transferred, on October 17, 1948, to Univ, to a Studite monastery, where the majority of the Greek-Catholic religious were already confined. From January 1948 Fr. Ziatyk had already taken office as vice-Provincial and Vicar-General of the Greek-Catholic Church, replacing Fr. J. De Vocht, who as a Belgian citizen has been obliged to leave the Ukraine.

After his arrest on 24 January 1950, he lived for nearly two years in prisons at Zolochiv, Lviv and Kiev, enduring seventy-two nocturnal interrogations. During these he was tortured, in order to make him subscribe to the transition to the Orthodox Church and collaborate with the police in persecuting the Greek-Catholic faithful.

Initially he was transferred to the “KGB internal prison” at Kyjiv, but after his condemnation to ten years forced labour, on 21 November, 1951, he was deported to the lager “Overlag” (Ozernyj) at Brats’k in the Irkuts’k region of Siberia. On Good Friday, 1952, he was cruelly beaten with sticks. He died on May 17th in one of the local hospitals. According to official documents he was buried in “cemetery 373, in the Lake Baikal zone, in the district of Tajshet in the region of Irkyts’k.”

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