Biography of Monsignor Jan Świderski

Born December 27, 1888, in Balt, Podolsk province. Graduated from high school in Odessa in 1906; graduated from Zhytomyr Seminary and enrolled in St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy but fell ill and in 1912 he left his studies and returned to Zhytomyr. Ordained December 17, 1912, in Zhytomyr and appointed vicar at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Łuck; nine months later he was transferred to serve as pastor at the parish in Zhmerynka. From 1915 he was the religion teacher at a business and vocational school, as well as at a Polish high school in Proskurov; later he was administrator of the parish in Zinkovce, Kamenets Diocese; from 1919 he was pastor of the parish in Proskurov. In May 1920, when Polish troops occupied Proskurov, he left for Lviv, and later to Krakow, where he lived in a monastery until August. In November 1920 he was appointed Vicar General of Kamenets Diocese and, illegally crossing the border, he returned to Proskurov where he became pastor of the parish and also served the parish in Felshin, where he lived. In 1921 he was under investigation for illegally crossing the border, but not convicted. August 30, 1922 – on the road to Kamenets-Podilski he was kidnapped, beaten, stripped and sent to prison, but released a short time later. In 1923 he moved to Vankovtsy and served in the local parish while also tending the parishioners in Felshin. In the spring of 1926, because Peter Mankowski, Bishop of Kamenets Diocese, now living in Poland, had been deprived of his jurisdiction, Bishop Michel D’Herbigny, a clandestine emissary of Pope Pius XI, appointed Father Jan Apostolic Administrator of Kamenets Diocese. From February 1927 he served in Bar; there he permitted two priests of the Eastern Rite to celebrate Mass according to the Latin Rite. On October 19, 1927, under pressure from the GPU (and from a group of priests who had been released from prison especially for this purpose), he and Father Kazimierz Naskręcki were forced to write a congratulatory declaration on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. The text of the declaration that was later published in Ukrainian and Moscow newspapers sharply differed from the version written by Fathers Jan and Kazimierz. Obviously it had been completely rewritten by the GPU in such a way as to compromise the Catholic clergy in Ukraine, inasmuch as the Apostolic Administrators [purportedly] expressed their acknowledgement and gratitude to the Soviet regime for religious freedom and appeared to acknowledge that “Catholic clergy in Ukraine led anti-Soviet activity and collaborated with Polish intelligence.” Father Jan managed to apprise Bishop Neveu in Moscow of this falsification and to send the original text of the letter to Poland. In December 1929, when a group of priests decided to leave for Poland, he wrote to them: “We have no right to leave our parishes now, because no one here will replace us, as there is no one else. We ought to be here not only when things are good for us, but also when they are going badly. I personally have told myself that I will not give in, I will not leave.” He was a good friend of Father Jan Lewiński and often met with him and Father Ryszard Szyszko and Father Aleksander Wierzbicki. January 18, 1930 – Father Jan was arrested in Bar; February – sent to Kiev Prison; March 8 – to Kharkiv Prison, where he was drawn into the investigation in a case against Catholic clergy (“Priests Case”). We note that in the documents accompanying his transfers from one prison to another there is a notation regarding the need for “extra guards and isolation from others.” June 27-30, 1930 – closed trial, at which he was sentenced to death under Articles 54-3, -4, -5, -6, -10 and -11 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR, commuted to ten years in corrective labor camp, with loss of rights for five years [Extraordinary Session, Supreme Ct., UkrSSR]. Sent to the solitary confinement block at Yaroslavl Prison, then on September 15, 1932, transported back to Moscow, released, and sent to Poland in a prisoner exchange. He served in Łuck Diocese; from 1933 he was rector of the church and religion teacher in Dubno; from 1934, in Kremenec; later, pastor and dean in Sarny. In 1939 he left for Warsaw and remained there after the German occupation. In 1944, after he had transferred to Wlotslavek Diocese, he served in Zagurovke, Sempolno, Kosteltse Kolski. Died October 18, 1959; buried in the cemetery in Sempolno. Sources: GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 4353 and 5647, l. 30, 35, 48; Dzwonkowski, pp. 477-479; Osipova (1996), p. 197; Sokolovskyi, pp. 184-185; Madała, p. 155
Variant Names:
Świderski, Jan; Sviderskiĭ, I︠A︡n Evstaf'evich
Podolʹskiĭ raĭon (Russia); Odesa (Ukraine); Z︠H︡ytomyr (Ukraine); Lut︠s︡ʹk (Ukraine); Zhmerynka (Ukraine); Proskuriv (Ukraine); Zinʹkiv (Khmelʹnyt︠s︡ʹka oblastʹ, Ukraine); Lʹviv (Ukraine); Kraków (Poland); Kami︠a︡nets (Brėstskai︠a︡ voblastsʹ, Belarus); Hvardiĭsʹke (Ukraine); Kiev (Ukraine); Kharkiv (Ukraine); I︠A︡roslavlʹ (I︠A︡roslavskai︠a︡ oblastʹ, Russia); Moscow (Russia); Poland; Dubno (Ukraine); Kremenet︠s︡ʹ (Ukraine); Wlotslavek (Poland)
male; clergy and religious; survived