Biography of Servant of God Father Paweƚ Chomicz

Biographical Description: Born October 17, 1893, in Volkovysk, Grodno province. Baptized into the Orthodox faith. October 22, 1905 – converted to Catholicism. Graduated from the Archdiocesan Seminary in St. Petersburg and studied at the Catholic Theological Academy until its closing. Ordained in 1916. Served in Petrograd parishes – from 1918 he was at Vyritsa Station; from September 1920 he was pastor of the parish in Pskov and also tended chapels in Ostrov, Dno and Porkhov; from June 1923 he was pastor of St. Casimir parish in Leningrad and administrator of parishes at Ligovo Station and Peterhoff, outside Leningrad. In 1926 he also went to serve in Kronstadt. December 3, 1926 – arrested in Leningrad, charged with “carrying out counter-revolutionary religious activity among young people and the faithful of the parish, and creation of an illegal anti-Soviet fraternity of members of the Third Order of Franciscans.” June 27, 1927 – sentenced under Article 58-10 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to ten years in corrective labor camp [OGPU Collegium, Leningrad Military District]. Sent to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp, where he arrived July 3. In June 1929 he was transferred to Anzer Island where, on July 5, 1932, he was arrested in a case against Catholic clergy who were charged with “creation of an anti-Soviet group that conducted anti-Soviet agitation, clandestinely celebrated Mass and religious rites and maintained an illegal contact with a free worker for purposes of transmitting abroad information of an espionage character about the situation of Catholics in the USSR.” The investigator recommended that, because he was one of the leaders who had boldly and daringly led this group of priests, his case be referred to the OGPU for the Leningrad Military District. May 27, 1933 – sentenced to one year in a penalty isolator [OGPU Collegium], and on July 22 he was transported to Leningrad Prison and in August he was sent to Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russian Far East. In August 1935 he was returned to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp. November 10, 1936 – released from camp but prohibited from residing in the twelve major cities and border districts. Settled in Kostroma, and later moved to Kaluga. In August 1939 he returned to Leningrad where he lived without documents and clandestinely celebrated Mass in apartments. As a priest, Fr. Paweƚ was very dedicated to his ministry; he formed small groups that united the faithful, such as Third Order communities and Rosary groups. The parishioners dearly loved and respected their pastor, captivated by his firm faith, his apostolic zeal and discretion, unshaken by his ten-year term at Solvetsky. Thanks to the support of his parishioners, Fr. Paweƚ was able to live undocumented in Leningrad and carry on his ministry for several years, always finding help. He understood the importance of his ministry and never passed up an opportunity to say daily Mass in an apartment. In July 1941, Fr. Michel Florian, OP, before his expulsion from the USSR, passed on to Fr. Paweƚ the functions of Apostolic Administrator. On July 15, 1941, Fr. Paweƚ was arrested in Leningrad in a case against Catholic clergy and laity (Chomicz et al.). Charged with “organization of an underground church, anti-Soviet and defeatist agitation and slander against the Soviet government.” September 1, 1941 – sentenced to death [Military Tribunal, NKVD, Leningrad District]. September 10, 1941 – shot, in Leningrad. We present the following excerpts from the investigatory files. During the investigation in the case against Catholics in 1941, Fr. Paweƚ stated: “In August 1939 I moved to Leningrad, since I had been absolutely unable to become an employee of a church. I imagined that in Leningrad, a large city, it would be easier to get myself established and prepare the ground for getting the chance to serve in a church. At first I stayed with [Teklia] Papshel and lived in her apartment two years and three months without a residency permit, not living anywhere else, having contact with a very narrow circle of people. At first I had no intention of remaining undocumented, but time passed, my situation with respect to ministerial service did not change, and thus I remained in an undocumented status. “I am a deeply religious person. I always had with me, in all my travels, a suitcase with everything needed for saying Mass, and, following our custom, at any opportunity while living in Leningrad […] I arranged Masses which were attended by the residents of those apartments where I was living, as well as other people. “I was dissatisfied and always spoke out against such measures of the Soviet regime as its fight with the Church. I was against the Soviet regime’s nationalization of Church lands and its expropriation of Church properties. “The Papal Bull – the Prayer Crusade – was a call to all faithful in the world to pray that freedom of the Church would be recognized in the USSR. I acknowledge that I was for this Crusade.” Sources: Archive of the Directorate, FSB, St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast; GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 5039; Dzwonkowski, pp. 192-193; Madaƚa, p. 36; Nowicki, p. 7; Osipova (1996), pp. 207-208; Reznikova, p. 9; “Sviashchennik Pavel Khomich,” Krov’ muchenikov est' semia Tserkvi, pp. 117-133; Investigatory Matter P.S. Khomich et al., Archive of the Directorate, FSB, St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast; Investigatory Matter 3587-42, Archive of the Directorate, St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast; Investigatory Matter 590614, Central Archive, FSB, Russian Federation; Shkarovskii, pp. 242-243