Biography of Father Antoni Wasilewski

Born September 13, 1868, in Lublin. Lived with his family in Warsaw until age seven, then on an estate in Russia. Finished gymnasium in Mogiliev and seminary in St. Petersburg; ordained in 1889. Earned a master’s degree in theology at the Theological Academy in St. Petersburg. From 1889 he was pastor of St. Catherine parish in St. Petersburg; from September 1889, vicar of Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Moscow. There he founded a parish orphanage for children of Polish families, which became an educational institution. For nineteen years he was religion teacher for Catholic youth in the schools and for children of Polish railroad workers in Moscow. From 1903 he was pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul and dean of Moscow; he headed the construction of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a Polish library associated with a charitable society, and the rebuilding of the parish’s girls’ gymnasium. His quarters were searched in 1911, and he was charged with celebrating Mass without permission in the orphanage, having unregistered monks and nuns in the parish, and not singing prayers for the tsar during the liturgies. As a result of these charges, the orphanage was closed and Fr. Antoni was relieved of his post. From April through June 1912 he was vicar of the pro-cathedral in St. Petersburg, then pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and chaplain at an orphanage for girls on Line 14, Vasilyevsky Island, run by the Franciscan Sisters. From 1912 he also taught religion in educational settings and was a confessor at the seminary. Given the title “honorable canon” [pochetnyi kanonik]. From 1918 he was pastor of a newly organized parish on Vasilyevsky Island and also a confessor at an illegal seminary. April 29, 1919 – after Polish troops took Vilnius, Fr. Antoni was arrested in St. Petersburg along with Archbishop Edward Ropp and a group of priests; but he was soon released. In 1920 he was dispatched for several weeks to Pasha Station on the Murmansk Railroad and Ovtsynsk parish. In March 1923 he was again arrested in Petrograd in a case against Catholic clergy (Cieplak et al.). March 21-26, 1923 – show trial; convicted under Articles 40, 68, 69-1, 119 and 121 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to three years in prison [Military Tribunal]. Served his term in Lefortovo and Sokolnicheskaya prisons. January 24, 1925 – released from prison; returned to Leningrad. From February 1925 he was pastor of St. Boniface Church; from April 1925, St. Catherine Church; from 1926, rector of the underground seminary. January 13, 1927 – arrested with the seminarians, charged with creating and leading an illegal monastery and organizing an illegal seminary in his quarters. June 18, 1927 – sentenced under Articles 58-14 and 12-5 to five years in corrective labor camps [OGPU Collegium]. Sent to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp. August 29, 1927 – because of his health, the concentration camp sentence was commuted to banishment to Central Asia for three years. Sent to Bek-Budi, where he lived in destitution, without an apartment, without money, in horrible filth. He wrote of this in detail to a friend, noting that living conditions at Solovetsky were much better and asking for a copy of the Gospels and a [liturgical] calendar. In October 1929 he was transferred to Shakhrisabz. March 25, 1930 – the Shakhrisabz Registry of Vital Statistics responded to an inquiry from the Polish Red Cross confirming that Fr. Antoni had died in exile (without indication of date of death). Laity who knew him well remembered him as a devout, meek, intelligent person beloved by all. Sources: Archives of the Directorate of FSB for St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast; GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 687; Osipova (1996), p. 156; Shkarovskii, pp. 217-218; Dzwonkowski, pp. 499-500; Madała, p. 164
Variant Names:
Wasilewski, Antoni; Vasilevskiĭ, Antoniĭ Mikhaĭlovich
Lublin (Poland); Warsaw (Poland); Mohyliv-Podilʹsʹkyĭ (Ukraine); Saint Petersburg (Russia); Moscow (Russia); Qarshi (Uzbekistan); Shahrisabz (Uzbekistan)
male; laity; died in prison