Biography of Father Zygmunt Kwaśniewski

Born March 30, 1887, in Tarashcha, Bila Tserkva district, Kiev province. Studied in the Department of Medicine at Kiev University, but in 1901 he was expelled from the third year of courses for his participation in an “illegal student organization.” He worked for several years as a tutor in Polish families. He graduated from Zhytomyr Seminary and was ordained in 1909. From 1909 he was pastor of the parish in Proskurov. On May 6, 1912, he was distinguished with the Order of St. Anne. From 1913 he served in Bratslav and was also the pastor of St. Magdalina parish in Samchintsy. From November 1914 he was also a religion teacher in Bratslav gymnasiums. Between 1920 and 1927 he was arrested and released repeatedly. In these difficult times he tirelessly supported the faith of the people. April 11, 1927 – arrested in Proskurov and charged with “carrying out anti-Soviet activity, aiding Polish intelligence agents in getting spies across the border and hiding them from local authorities.” June 1, 1928 – the investigator recommended administrative exile to the Northern Territory for five years, but on June 5 his file was closed. Fr. Zygmunt was not released until October 21, and upon his release he was forced to agree to “voluntary” cooperation, concerning which he immediately advised his church superior. From 1928 he was pastor of St. Alexander Church in Kiev. On March 2, 1930, he was arrested in a case against Catholic clergy (Priests Case). June 27-30, 1930 – at a closed trial he was sentenced under Articles 54-4 and 54-10 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR to five years in corrective labor camp with loss of rights for three years in accordance with Article 29 and prohibited from residing on the territory of Right-Bank Ukraine for a period of five years in accordance with Article 34 [Extraordinary Session, Supreme Ct., UkrSSR]. The camp sentence was suspended on the basis of the court’s conclusion that the degree of his social danger was not great and did not require isolation – thus he was banished to Rostov-on-Don, where he continued his pastoral work. Kiev Catholics, with the aid of the Polish consulate, later managed to get Fr. Zygmunt returned to Kiev, but they were not able to get him permission to minister at St. Alexander Church. After several appeals by the parishioners, the authorities allowed Fr. Zygmunt to serve at St. Nicholas Church – but only on Sundays and holy days at St. Alexander. June 3, 1937 – arrested in a case against Catholic clergy and laity (Kwasniewki et al.). Charged with “carrying out counter-revolutionary, nationalistic and espionage activity at the behest of the Polish consulate in Kiev.” He was broken under interrogation and incriminated himself and other defendants. September 22, 1937 – sentenced to death [Special Board, NKVD]. September 25, 1937 – shot, in Kiev Internal Prison. Sources: Osipova (1996), p. 174; Investigatory Matter 1733 fp, Archive TsGAOO (Ukraine); Sokolovskyi, pp. 88-89; Dzwonkowski, pp. 317-320; Madała, p. 95
Variant Names:
Kwaśniewski, Zygmunt; Kvasnevskiĭ, Sigmund Karlovich
Tarashcha (Ukraine); Kiev (Ukraine); Z︠H︡ytomyr (Ukraine); Brat︠s︡lav (Ukraine); Proskuriv (Ukraine); Severnyĭ kraĭ (R.S.F.S.R.); Rostov-na-Donu (Russia)
male; clergy and religious; executed