Biography of Monsignor Teofil Skalski

Born March 3, 1877, in Kiriyevka, Podolia. He finished high school in Nemirov; graduated from Theological Seminary in 1898 with high distinction and was sent to St. Petersburg Theological Academy, where he earned a master’s degree in theology with high distinction; ordained in 1900 for the Diocese of Lutsk-Zhytomyr. From 1902 he was a professor of canon law, philosophy and homiletics as well as the inspector at Zhytomyr Theological Seminary. He was a canon and later a monsignor and protonotary apostolic; he also founded several charitable organizations. The tsarist authorities kept a close eye on him because of his energetic activity, causing difficulties with his appointment as pastor of St. Alexander Church in Kiev. Father Teofil showed his organizational capabilities during World War I, when he created charitable organizations in Kiev, especially for aiding Polish refugees. In 1919 the first problems with the new regime became manifest; after the beginning of the Polish-Soviet War he was taken hostage, but soon released. In 1920, after departure of the Polish Army from Kiev, he remained at his parish even though many urged him to leave for Poland. May 11, 1920 – appointed Vicar General of that part of the Lutsk-Zhytomyr Diocese that now lay on Soviet territory. May 2, 1921 – arrested in connection with his refusal to hand over church valuables to the authorities; released after payment of a hefty bail and thanks to the intervention of the Polish consulate, but thereafter he was regularly summoned to the GPU for interrogation. March 31, 1926 – appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Zhytomyr by Bishop Michel D’Herbigny, a clandestine Papal emissary. June 9, 1926 – again arrested, but prior to his arrest he managed to appoint two Vicars General: Father Kazimierz Naskręcki and Father Stanisƚaw Jachniewicz. Sent to Moscow October 1, for further investigation and held in Butyrka Prison. Charged with espionage; aiding Left-Bank Polish youth to leave for Poland; contacts with Polish diplomatic representatives and bishops; support of Polish teachers in their fight with Communism; and membership in the illegal organization Orzeƚ Biaƚy [White Eagle]. Diplomats of various countries took an interest in the impending trial; the Polish consulate in particular highly appraised Father Teofil’s behavior at trial. January 28, 1928 – sentenced to ten years in prison [Military Collegium, USSR Supreme Ct.]. In the spring of 1928 he was transferred to the solitary confinement block at Yaroslavl Prison; in November 1929, sent to Butyrka; in 1930, sent back to Yaroslavl. In September 1932 he was transported to Butyrka; on September 15, released to Poland on a prisoner exchange. From 1933 he was pastor of Łuck cathedral. In letters to Cardinal August Hlond, Primate of Poland, he informed him of conditions of the Catholic Church in the USSR and asked for rescuing priests who were in prison or still at liberty; he wrote about them to the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs as well. In 1939, after the occupation of western Ukraine by the Red Army, Father Skalski, at the request of the bishop of Łuck, moved to the German zone and was interned with the Germans, but thanks to the efforts of the Archbishop of Krakow, he was released and sent to Krakow. He lived two years in Nowy Targ; September 19, 1942 – appointed pastor of the parish in Mszana Dolna, where he died April 12, 1958. He wrote valuable memoirs about the fate of the Catholic Church in Ukraine. We present excerpts from the indictment, concerning Father Teofil’s organization of an illegal theological seminary in his apartment: “The Kiev department of the GPU has actionable data that an underground Roman Catholic theological seminary is functioning at St. Alexander Church, existing on funds illegally received from Poland. In September 1925 the former administrator of the diocese, the priest Skalski, petitioned for permission to open a Roman Catholic seminary; the petition was denied, and he decided to proceed with the preparation of priests illegally. After Skalski’s arrest in 1926, Naskręcki took over his position as administrator; from the time of the opening of the Polish consulate in Kiev he established illegal contact with the highest Catholic clergy in Poland. Candidates for the priesthood – Rybaƚtowski, Grzegorzewski, Kowalski – resided at Skalski’s apartment. Classes were conducted mainly by Naskręcki, less often by Skalski. Naskręcki and Blechman (who came to Kiev) continued the classes after Skalskii’s arrest.” Sources: GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 5647, l. 5,8, 10, 35, 43,48; f. 8409, op. 1, d. 200, l. 283-296; Dzwonkowski (1998), pp. 436-438; Osipova (1996), p. 199; Sokolovskyi, pp. 189-190; Madała, pp. 139-140
Variant Names:
Skalski, Teofil; Skalskiĭ , Teofil Gotfridovich
Podillia (Ukraine); Nemyriv (Vinnyt︠s︡ʹka oblastʹ, Ukraine); Z︠H︡ytomyrsʹka oblastʹ (Ukraine); Kiev (Ukraine); Moscow (Russia); I︠A︡roslavlʹ (I︠A︡roslavskai︠a︡ oblastʹ, Russia); Lut︠s︡ʹk (Ukraine); Kraków (Poland); Mszana Dolna (Poland)
male; clergy and religious; survived