Biography of Archimandrite Fabian Abrantowicz, MIC, Servant of God

Biographical Description: Born September 14, 1884, in Novogrudok, Minsk province. Graduated from the Theological Seminary in St. Petersburg in 1906 and was ordained in 1908. He completed the Theological Academy in 1910 with a Master’s Degree in theology; in 1914 he completed a doctorate in philosophy from Louvain University (Belgium). From 1912 he served as vicar at St. Catherine parish in St. Petersburg; in 1914 he became a professor at the Theological Academy where he taught philosophy. In 1918, when the Bolsheviks closed the seminary in St. Petersburg, he became rector of the Theological Seminary in the newly re-established Minsk Diocese. The seminary was at first located in Minsk, but because of wartime events it was relocated to Novogrudok and then later to Pinsk. He knew several languages and was known for an extraordinary capacity for work. He wrote two philosophical-theological works in these years: God [Bog] and Man [Chelovek]. From 1920 he served in parishes of the Minsk Diocese; in 1926 he joined the Congregation of Marians and made his religious vows in Druya. In November 1928 he was appointed Apostolic Administrator for Eastern Rite Catholics in Manchuria, with residence in Harbin. St. Charles Minor Seminary, a college for girls attached to a convent of Ursuline Sisters and an orphanage run by the Franciscan Sisters were entrusted to his care. He himself organized an educational institution that had been closed, which was later named St. Nicholas Lyceum. He taught in all these schools and also published a Catholic magazine. He also temporarily served as Apostolic Administrator for Latin Rite Catholics. In April 1939 he made an ad limina visit to Rome, and a month later he went on vacation to Poland to visit his friends and relatives. In Lviv he met with the Greek Catholic Metropolitan, Andrey Sheptytsky, and then was hospitalized for treatment. In September 1939 he was on territory occupied by the Red Army. In October he attempted "to return to Poland," but in crossing the new state border with the USSR he was first arrested by German border guards who returned him "to the territory of the USSR" - and then on October 22 he was detained by Soviet border guards and sent to Lviv Prison for further investigation. To the question about his illegal border crossing, he stated that "in crossing the border, I was certain that, given the friendly relations between Germany and the USSR, crossing the border between them was free." On November 13, 1939, he was presented with the indictment, which stated that he had come "to Poland from Japan with a special intelligence assignment under the guise of being a religious missionary," and as evidence they presented facts from twenty years earlier when, during the wave of political changes he had joined the Belorussian nationalist movement. After Fr. Fabian categorically refused to sign the charges, they explained to him in a way that was "very easy to understand" that he was "guilty." In January 1941, at interrogations in Moscow, he once again attempted to refute all the charges, stating that "the physical pressure applied to me in Lviv ruined the investigation at its core, and I [...] signed everything either without reading it or under coercion," but this was unable to alter his fate. On August 15, 1942, he was presented with the Decree on the Termination of the Investigation, wherein Fr. Fabian was charged with "fighting against the revolutionary movement and making an illegal border crossing" - and next to his signature was written: "I do not acknowledge myself guilty of the charges and I reserve for myself the right to give supplementary written explanations regarding the investigatory materials as well as the reasons I do not acknowledge myself guilty." On September 23, 1942, he was sentenced under Articles 58-6, 58-10 and 58-11 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to ten years in corrective labor camp [Special Board, USSR NKVD]. For unknown reasons he remained in Butyrka Prison where he died January 2, 1946. We present an excerpt from the lengthy statements of Fr. Fabian explaining the mission of the Catholic Church and his moral position with respect to Communism: "Fighting between ourselves for the healing of humanity's ailments, and holding opposite worldviews, we ought to conscientiously try to know each other adequately. Othwerise we will be fighting with our own personal false preconceptions." Source: Madała, p. 17; Osipova (1996), p. 145; Peshkova, pp. 4-5; Investigatory Matter F.I. Abrantovich, Central Archive, FSB, Russian Federation; Shkarovskii, p. 215; list compiled by R. Dzwonkowski; see also