Biography of Father Andronik Rudenko
- Born May 17, 1894, into the family of an Orthodox priest, pastor of Holy Protection Church, in Chernishi, Kanevsk district, Kiev province. From 1905 he lived with his family in Stavyshche, Tarashchansk district. On June 5, 1912, he graduated from the six-year Kiev Real School [Realschule] and from September 1913 he worked as a teacher in the real school in Stavyshche. In 1915 he graduated from the military school in Kiev with the rank of praporshchik [warrant officer] and was sent to the front as a junior officer in an infantry battalion, where, on November 30, 1916, he was awarded the rank of second lieutenant. He was decorated with the Order of St. Stanislaus, Third Degree. From 1916 he commanded the telephone company at the front, where on September 21, 1917, he earned the rank of Staff Captain. Demobilized from the army on February 11, 1918. Settled in Kiev and enrolled in the Kiev Theological Academy; from 1919 he was simultaneously a student in the Historical-Philological Department of Kiev University where he studied history of the arts. In 1917 he had been accepted into the bosom of the Catholic Church by Vicar General Michal Cegelski. [Note: his father and brother, Russian Orthodox priests, broke off all relations with him when he entered the Catholic Church.]
In 1920 he was ordained a priest of the Eastern Rite. He was sent by Father Teofil Skalski, Administrator of the Zhytomyr Diocese, to serve at the parish of St. John the Theologian in Vinarevka, Stavyshche region of Kiev oblast. After Fr. Teofil’s arrest, his successor requested of the Holy See that Father Andronik be allowed to serve in both the Latin and Eastern rites. Bishop Pius Neveu, the Apostolic Administrator in Moscow, characterized him as a zealous pastor. In 1928, after the closing of the church in Stavyshche, he was sent to serve as vicar of St. Alexander parish in Kiev. From 1929 he was pastor of the parish in Yanushpol, and then at the church of the Finding of the Holy Cross of Our Lord in Chudniv, where for some time he lived in the apartment of the organist, Mikhail Romanovski. In June 1935 he was again transferred to the parish in Yanushpol; on June 13, during the Divine Liturgy, in a sermon about St. Anthony of Padua, Father Andronik called him a model of staunchness in the faith and asked his parishioners in those difficult days to ask the intercession of this saint. Father Andronik had a merciful and good heart, especially with respect to those who had fallen into difficult situations, as for example, when he took in Father Antoni Buchinski, an Orthodox priest who had been evicted from his house in Yanushpol after his church had been closed and he had nowhere to spend the night. Father Andronik was constantly subjected to persecution; the local village council seized his 3,000-volume library. In March 1935, when the local authorities decided to close the church in Yanushpol, Father Andronik went to Moscow, met with Bishop Pius Neveu and asked to be transferred to another place because of the closing of the church. Upon returning to his parish he learned that the church, fortunately, had not been closed.
On August 22, 1935, he was arrested in Yanushpol. On December 13, 1935, he was sentenced under Article 54-10 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR to seven years in corrective labor camp with loss of rights for three years [Special Collegium, Vinnytsia District Court]. He was sent by convoy to Norillag, but in June he and some criminals fled from the train at Krasnoyarsk Station. He made it back to Moscow where he went to Bishop Neveu for help, and Neveu gave him 225 rubles at once, promising to make a petition for clemency through the mediation of the Dominican Leopold Braun at the American embassy. [Note: Father Braun was a member of the Assumptionist order, not a Dominican.] Father Andronik lived illegally in Romanov for eleven months, and later went to Kiev and appealed to the Polish consulate for help, but they saw him as a provocateur, saying “All our people are in prison.” From Kiev he secretly went to Berdychiv, and then to Yanushpol where he lived illegally with parishioner Karl Stodolski. Later Alena Ilnicka hid him in her place in Romanov, and then Jan Khmelevski from Korchevka hid him. Here a terminally ill parishioner, Antoni Dobrovolski, gave him his passport. Until December 22, 1937, he lived in Osechne, Zhytomyr oblast, in a shed belonging to a parishioner, Wiktor Buczyński – and after his (Buczyński’s) arrest, Father Andronik made his way to Kiev where he secretly lived at Sofia Krasovskaya’s, who unsuccessfully tried to help him leave for Central Asia.
The journalist Anatoli Krakovetski, a camp-mate in Kolyma, later told about Father Andronik’s life at that time: “During the horrific famine in Ukraine, Father Andronik functioned illegally for several years, moving about from place to place. At night he baptized, heard confessions, performed marriages, sang funeral rites, blessed the graves of those already buried and forgave the sin of cannibalism. He could have gone abroad, but he did not.”
On December 11, 1938, he was recognized by a policeman who worked at the inner prison of the Kiev NKVD and was arrested. On August 28, 1939, the investigation in the case against Father Andronik and Sofia Krasovskaya (who was arrested after him) was completed. On September 25, 1939, he was sentenced under Articles 54-10(1), 68(a)(2), and 78 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR to ten years in corrective labor camp with loss of rights for five years [Special Collegium, Kiev District Court]; he appealed, but the sentence remained unchanged [Supreme Court, UkrSSR]. Sent to Sevvostoklag; April 18, 1940 – arrived by convoy in Vladivostok. May 27, 1940 – the medical commission at the transit camp in Vladivostok gave its conclusion concerning the condition of his health – “compensatory heart defect” – but nevertheless on July 14 he was sent to Magadan. Until February 4, 1941, he was at the camp medical center, but after treatment he finished month-long medical assistant [fel’dsher] courses and in February 1945 he began to work as a medical assistant at the camp medical center in Magadan. On January 11, 1947, he was sent to a transit point and from October 5 he worked as a medical assistant at the hospital in Nakhodka Bay. Young people always gathered around him, and after the end of the war – young people from Ukraine. In every person he found what was good, and thus even for the criminals he had a good word, supporting them in a difficult time. On September 2, 1947, he was arrested in the camp and sent to the inner prison in Magadan. On September 15, 1947, he was presented with the charges: “anti-Soviet agitation and participation in a counter-revolutionary organization.”
January 25, 1948 – the medical commission established that Father Andronik had suffered a heart attack, and thus the investigation was suspended, and the accused was sent to the camp hospital where he remained until July 7. On November 4, 1948, he was sentenced under Article 58-10(2) of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to ten years in corrective labor camp [Special Board, USSR Ministry of the Interior]. On October 6, 1950, because of a severe worsening of his health, he was transported to Nakhodka Bay and placed in the hospital of the Vaninsk sector of Sevvostoklag, where he died May 5, 1951. He was buried in the cemetery in Vanino Bay. Many people and priests attended the funeral.
Sources: Archive of Directorate, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Magadan oblast; Osipova (1996), p. 195; Investigatory Matter 1733 fp, Archive TsGAOO (Ukraine); Sokolovskyi, pp. 174-178; Dzwonkowski, p. 415; Madała, p. 134; Parafiial'na gazeta, 1995, no. 43, p. 4
- Variant Names:
- Rudenko, Andronik; Rudenko, Andronik Dmitrievich
- Kiev (Ukraine : Oblast); Chudniv (Ukraine); Krasnoi︠a︡rsk (Russia); Moscow (Russia); Vladivostok (Russia); Magadan (Russia); Nakhodka (Primorskiĭ kraĭ, Russia); Vanino (Russia)
- male; clergy and religious; survived