Biography of Father Józef Romaniuk

Born August 10, 1885, in Kraków. Studied at Zhytomyr Seminary, and after it was closed, not qualifying for entry into Lemberg [Lviv] Seminary, he completed his studies at the Orthodox Seminary and was ordained. In 1919 he was arrested on charges of “anti-Soviet propaganda,” but was acquitted by the court and released. In 1928 he was again arrested and this time charged with “participation in the restoration of icons,” for which he was sentenced by the court to ten months of forced labor. In 1929 he was arrested for “baptizing a child without a ZAGs [state registration] document,” but soon released. From 1930 he resided in Kulchiny, Vinnytska oblast, and was engaged in photography. Fr. Aleksander Bilakiewicz and the church warden sometimes dropped into his photography shop; they discussed questions of religious freedom under the Soviet regime and talked about the persecutions of clergy and laity. Fr. Aleksander’s thoughts about the need for the unity of the clergy, regardless of confession, resonated with the sentiments and hopes of Fr. Józef. When Fr. Aleksander asked him to hear his confession, since he had been unable to go to confession for three years, the request so touched Fr. Józef that after hearing Fr. Aleksander’s confession, Fr. Józef asked him to hear his. Later, under Fr. Aleksander’s guidance, Fr. Józef clandestinely converted to Catholicism of the Eastern Rite, but Fr. Aleksander was not able to give him permission to preside over liturgies in Catholic churches. When Fr. Józef turned to Fr. Stanisƚaw Jachniewicz and Bishop Aleksander Frison for this permission, they suggested that he first study theology and then take an exam. From August 1934 he maintained close contact with Fr. Aleksander Bilakewicz; he discussed with Orthodox priests of his acquaintance the possibility of converting to Catholicism. From August 1935 he began to serve in his own parish as a Catholic priest, and again turned to Bishop Frison for permission, but received no answer. June 16, 1935 – the newspaper Stalinskii put [Stalin’s Path] in Berdychiv published a statement about Fr. Józef’s renunciation of the priesthood. The reasons for this step, unfortunately, have no explanation – it is only well known that he regularly had material problems and the authorities demanded the closing of the church in Kulchiny. June 22, 1935 – he departed for Berdychiv and worked there as a retoucher in a photo shop. September 12, 1935 – arrested in Berdychiv and drawn into the investigation in a case against Catholic clergy and laity (Bilakiewicz et al.). January 12, 1936 – sentenced to five years in corrective labor camp [Special Collegium, Vinnytsia Dist. Ct.]. Sent to a camp; released in September 1941 and internally exiled. Fate thereafter unknown. Sources: Dzwonkowski, p. 408; Osipova (1996), p. 194; Sokolovskyi, pp. 172-173; Parafiial'na gazeta, 1995, no. 56, p. 8
Variant Names:
Romaniuk, Józef; Romani︠u︡k, Iosif Ivanovich
Kraków (Poland); Z︠H︡ytomyr (Ukraine); L'viv (Ukraine); Kulʹchyny (Ukraine); Berdychiv (Ukraine)
male; clergy and religious; fate unknown