Biography of Father Józef Kuczyński

Born February 15, 1904, in Buchki, Chipovidsk district, Zhytomyr province. Graduated from the Pedagogical Institute in 1924. He illegally crossed the Soviet-Polish border and enrolled in Łuck Seminary; graduated and was ordained in 1930. Worked in Łuck high schools and organized the Scout movement among the teens. Completed a doctorate in Catholic sociology at the Catholic Institute in Paris. After his return to Poland he served in the diocesan office of “Catholic Action,” and later served as chaplain of the Volhynian branch of the Scouts and was secretary of the Catholic Youth Association. In September 1939 he became pastor of the parish in Shumbar, ouside Kremenec, and was there at the time of the Soviet and German occupations. In 1942 he was the organizer of Self-Defense for the Polish Populace during pogroms organized by Ukrainian nationalists in Dederkaly and after the war he was awarded the Polish Cross of the Valiant for this effort. After the return of the Red Army and establishment of the Soviet regime, he served in Krasilov, outside Starokonstantinov, and he also looked after Catholics in the region of Kharkiv, Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk. January 8, 1945 – arrested on charges of conveying espionage information to the Bishop of Łuck, Adolf Szelążek [Shelenzhek], for transmittal to the Vatican. May 6, 1946 – sentenced under Articles 54-1(a) and 54-11 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR to ten years in corrective labor camp [Special Board, USSR Ministry of State Security]. Sent to Sevurallag (Irbit, Sverdlovsk oblast); January 1947 – transferred to Vorkutlag; released October 16, 1954, but without the right to leave. He remained in the Special Settlement in Vorkuta; in 1956 he was banished to Krasnoarmeysk (Kazakhstan), where he began to actively minister among the exiled Catholics. In December 1958 he was arrested in exile, sentenced to ten years in corrective labor camp and sent to Angarlag (Irkutsk oblast), whence he was released on January 9, 1965. Left for Ukraine. Settled in Bar, ministered in parishes in Luchinets, Vezhbovets, and Snitkov. According to the testimony of Roman Dzwonkowski, despite his years in the camps, Father Józef had a joyful spirit and he considered his misadventures to have been God’s blessing. He left memoirs that were published in Paris after his death [Miedzy parafia a łagrem (Paris, 1985)]. He died March 13, 1982, in Bar. Sources: Archive of the Directorate of Internal Affairs, Komi Republic; Archive of the Directorate of the FSB, Russian Federation, for Irkutsk oblast; Dzwonkowski, Losy, pp. 33, 302; Patyga, p. 183; Madała, pp. 91-92; TsPSIP, Karaganda oblast
Variant Names:
Kuchinskiĭ, Iosif Antonovich; Kuczyński, Józef
Z︠H︡ytomyrsʹka oblastʹ (Ukraine); Lut︠s︡ʹk (Ukraine); Paris (France); Poland; Kharkiv (Ukraine); Irbit (Russia); Kazakhstan; Irkutsk (Russia); Bar (Ukraine)
male; clergy and religious; survived