Hyvachiv, Ukraine, 14 January 1896 – Stanislaviv (today Ivano-Frankivsk), Ukraine, 2 December 1973
Roman Martyrology: At Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine, blessed John Slezyuk, bishop and martyr, to whom the Lord gave the palm of eternal life for having played tirelessly in hiding under an atheistic regime, his ministry among the faithful of the Byzantine Rite and maintaining bravely before his persecutors firm faith in Christ.
Ivan Slezyuk was born on January 14, 1896 at the village of Zhyvachiv, in the Ukrainian region of Stanislaviv, now called Ivano-Frankivsk. In 1923 he received the Order of Priests in the Byzantine rite and in 1945 his bishop, Blessed Hryhorij Khomysyn, gave the episcopal consecration as coadjutor with right of succesione nell’Eparchia of Stanislaviv in which case he was arrested by the Bolsheviks. This order was providential, as the Khomysyn died on Dec. 28 of that year in hospitals of the Lukianivska prison in Kiev.
His young assistant could not succeed immediately, he had been jailed since even before the bishop died, June 2, and deported in the workcamps of Vorkuta in Russia and then, in 1950, he was relocated to the work camps of Mordovia, in Russia. On November 15, 1954 was finally freed and was able to return and take possession of his episcopal see. He was then arrested again, in 1962, and sentenced to five years of hard time in prison. He was released again on November 30, 1968, but continued to be regularly convened by the KGB for “conversations”, the most recent of which took place two weeks before his death. Despite this condition of secrecy in which the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was forced to live, with a despotic regime hostile to God, Ivan Slezyuk continued unabated to exercise his ministry to the faithful of the Byzantine Rite, witnessing Christ firmly and without fear before the persecutors of faith. He finally died at Stanislaviv December 2, 1973 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 27, 2001, together with another 24 Ukrainian nationals who were all victims of the Soviet regime.
Author: Fabio Arduino
Source: Santi e Beati