Biography of Father Roman Jankowski

Born into a working class family in Bebechi, Yarmolinets district, Vinnytsia province, on August 28, 1888. Graduated from the local two-year school and finished the gymnasium in four years as an extern student. For approximately three years he worked at a pharmacy in Proskurov, then, as an extern, he passed the examination for pharmacist. In 1915 he graduated from Zhytomyr Seminary and was ordained. From 1915 he served at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Bratslav; from 1917 he was at Holy Trinity Church in Lutsk, and then later at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Uman. From July 1920 he served in Zhytomyr; from 1921, at St. Casimir parish in Troyanovo, outside Zhytomyr, where he was arrested June 5, 1925, on charges of “collaborating in illegal border crossings,” but soon released. From November 1926 he served in Berdychiv where he was arrested on April 10, 1927. Charged with “organization and leadership of a group for the illegal passage of people to Poland.” In May 1928 he was transferred to Kharkiv Prison for further investigation. September 29-30, 1928 – a closed trial was held, at which Fr. Roman was sentenced under Article 7 and 56-25 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR to nine years in corrective labor camp with loss of rights for three years [Extraordinary Session, Berdychiv Dist. Ct.]. Under an amnesty in commemoration of the Tenth Anniversary of the October Revolution, his sentence was lowered to six years, without loss of rights. He spent a year in Kharkiv Prison and then in the summer of 1930 he was sent to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp. In 1930 he was transferred to Anzer Island where, on July 5, 1932, he was arrested in a case against Catholic clergy who were charged with “creation of an anti-Soviet group that conducted anti-Soviet agitation, clandestinely celebrated Mass and religious rites and maintained an illegal contact with a free worker for purposes of transmitting abroad information of an espionage character about the situation of Catholics in the USSR.” At an interrogation during the investigation, he stated: “I believe that changes in my views on religion are not possible, since at my age, it is impossible to change one’s convictions. I consider myself a faithful and staunch Catholic, as I shall be until the end.” The investigator recommended that his term be increased to ten years and that he be isolated from all others. In October 1933 he was released from the camp and banished to Alma Ata; released from exile in May 1934 with restrictions on living in the twelve major cities and the border regions. He returned to Ukraine where he was appointed pastor of St. Michael Church in Ushomyr, Kiev oblast, but the local authorities refused to issue him a passport, referring to the fact that he was prohibited from living there. He went to Kotelnia, Kiev oblast, where he served at St. Anthony of Padua parish. In early August 1935 – after the closing of the church in Kotelnia, the local authorities demanded that Fr. Roman leave the region, but he remained there as he had nowhere else to go. August 27, 1935 – arrested in Kotelnia and drawn into the investigation in a case against a “fascist counter-revolutionary organization of Roman Catholic and Uniate clergy in Right-Bank Ukraine.” Charged with “carrying out counter-revolutionary work, especially among the youth, aimed at breaking up collective farms and protesting collectivization; organization of collective, slanderous protest against measures undertaken by the Soviet regime.” August 14, 1936 – sentenced under Articles 54-4 and 54-11 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR to five years in corrective labor camp [Special Board, NKVD, USSR]. After his release from camp he was internally exiled; in the summer of 1945 he returned to Zhytomyr and in September he began to celebrate Mass in the cathedral, which had been opened by the Germans and then saved by the parishioners from being closed by the Soviets. He was soon forbidden to reside in Zhytomyr and he was forced to live for five years in Yablonna, outside Zhytomyr. In 1951 he returned to Zhytomyr and again began celebrating Mass at the cathedral, but in 1957 the authorities again forbade him to minister and preach for a year – and then in 1959, for six months. The reason for this next prohibition was the celebration of liturgy on Holy Saturday, which an informant saw as forcing people into the faith of the Catholic Church. In the 1950s he traveled to Poland at his brother’s invitation, but he did not remain there, inasmuch as he believed that the faithful in Ukraine needed him. Until the 1970s – being now eighty years old – he continued to serve parishes in Novohrad-Volynskyi and Pokostovok. He died in Zhytomyr in February 1987 after seventy-one years of priestly ministry. Buried in Zhytomyr (exact date of death unknown). Sources: Archive of the Directorate, FSB, Arkhangelsk oblast; Archive of the Directorate, SBU, Kiev oblast; Dzwonkowski, pp. 259-261; Madaƚa, p. 68; Osipova (1996), p. 217; Investigatory Matter 1733 fp, Archive TsGAOO (Ukraine); Sokolovskyi, pp. 247-248
Variant Names:
Jankowski, Roman; I︠A︡nkovskiĭ, Roman Vladislavovich
Vinnyt︠s︡ʹka oblastʹ (Ukraine); Proskuriv (Ukraine); Z︠H︡ytomyr (Ukraine); Brat︠s︡lav (Ukraine); Lut︠s︡ʹk (Ukraine); Umanʹ (Ukraine); Z︠H︡ytomyr (Ukraine); Berdychiv (Ukraine); Kharkiv (Ukraine); Solovetski Island (Russia); Anzerski Island (Russia); Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan); Kiev (Ukraine : Oblast); Z︠H︡ytomyr (Ukraine); Poland; Novohrad-Volynsʹkyĭ (Ukraine); Pokostovka (Ukraine); Z︠H︡ytomyr (Ukraine)
male; clergy and religious; survived