Biography of Father Bronisƚaw Ussas

Born June 30, 1885, in St. Petersburg. Graduated from gymnasium and two departments of St. Petersburg University. During his studies he contributed to the journals Vera i zhizn’ [Faith and Life] and Slovo Istiny [Word of Truth, the journal of the Russian Catholic (Eastern Rite) community]. In 1915 he enrolled in the Archdiocesan Seminary in St. Petersburg and was soon transferred into the Catholic Theological Academy. Ordained in 1917 for the Archdiocese of Mogiliev. In 1917, after the February Revolution, he was sent to Minsk for the organization of aid to refugee Poles. Bishop Zygmunt Lozyński appointed him a professor and steward of the newly created diocesan seminary in Minsk, and also rector of the former Dominican Church, which Fr. Bronisƚaw renovated. He later became dean of Minsk deanery. May 5, 1919 – arrested on charges of “resistance to the seizure of church valuables” and sentenced under Article 58-10 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to a concentration camp until the end of the Civil War [Judicial Department, Petrograd City Extraordinary Commission]. He was held in prisons in Smolensk, Vitebsk, Dinaburg [Dvinsk] and Novoaleksandrovsk. Released thanks to the efforts of the Lithuanian government; departed for Lithuania. August 8, 1919 – after the beginning of the Polish-Soviet War and the taking of Minsk by Polish troops – he returned to his parish and until July 1920 he was a member of the city council and head of the state archive. He also became chairman of the American organization of Aid to Children. He organized dinners for 63,000 children. July 10, 1920 – he left for Poland, but then was sent to Minsk as chairman of the Polish Red Cross and a member of the Polish-Soviet Commission. He served in Minsk until the end of May 1921; after the signing of the Riga Treaty between the RSFSR and Poland he went to Petrograd in July as a representative of the Polish Republic and a member of the Commission on the Return of Polish Cultural Valuables. In February 1922 he took part in the clandestine transmittal of valuables of St. Catherine Church to the Polish consulate. As chairman of the Commission, he fired the typist who gave the Soviet authorities secret documents of the Commission. In November 1924 he was arrested and charged with “harassment of the Delegation’s workers.” April 15, 1925 – sentenced to six years deprivation of freedom and two thousand rubles fine on behalf of the victims” [Leningrad City Court]. For the Soviet authorities, the trial of Fr. Bronisƚaw gave them the chance to exchange him for two Soviet agents who had been arrested in Poland. Because those agents, at the moment of the exchange at the border, were killed by Polish gendarmes, Fr. Bronisƚaw was not released, but on the return trip from the border, he managed to escape from the train in Minsk and took refuge in the Polish consulate. This caused an international scandal and Fr. Bronisƚaw was forced to give himself up to the authorities. He was sent to Leningrad Prison where he began a hunger strike, demanding that the exchange be carried out and that compromising attacks on him in the press be brought to an end. After an eleven-day hunger strike a retraction of the charges against him was finally published in the press and Fr. Bronisƚaw ended his hunger strike, after which he was transported to Moscow, to the GPU’s inner prison at Lubyanka. February 10, 1926 – released to Poland on an exchange. From 1926 he was hospitalized in Warsaw; in 1927 he began to serve at St. Alexander parish; in 1930, at the request of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky he went to Lviv [Lviv] and became the archivarius of the Greek-Catholic Church in Poland. Over the course of five years he compiled an inventory of all the documents from the times of tsarist Russia touching upon the Greek-Catholic Church and preserved in Polish archives. In 1935, after his return to Warsaw, he became chaplain at an institution run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary; he served as chaplain in an infectious hospital; from 1957 he worked without compensation in a construction cooperative. He gave his large personal archive to Catholic University of Lublin. December 6, 1977 – died in Warsaw. Buried in Otwock. Sources: Dzwonkowski, pp. 492-495; Shkarovskii, p. 240; Madała, pp. 162-163
Variant Names:
Ussas, Bronisƚaw; Ussas, Bronislav Matveevich
Saint Petersburg (Russia); Mahili︠o︡ŭ (Belarus); Minsk (Belarus); Smolensk (Russia); Moscow (Russia); Warsaw (Poland); L'viv (Ukraine); Otwock (Poland)
male; clergy and religious; survived