Walter Ciszek

Servant of God
Walter Ciszek, S.J.
Priest and Missionary
BornWalter Joseph Ciszek
November 4, 1904
Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedDecember 8, 1984(1984-12-08) (aged 80)
Bronx, New York, United States
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church

Walter Joseph Ciszek, S.J. (November 4, 1904 – December 8, 1984) was a Polish-American Jesuit priest who conducted clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1963.

Fifteen of these years were spent in confinement and hard labor in the Gulag, plus five preceding them[1] in Moscow's infamous Lubyanka prison. He was released and returned to the United States in 1963, after which he wrote two books, including the memoir With God in Russia, and served as a spiritual director.

Since 1990, Ciszek's life has been under consideration by the Roman Catholic Church for possible beatification or canonization. His current title is Servant of God.

Early life and studies

Ciszek was born on November 4, 1904, in the mining town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, to Polish immigrants Mary (Mika) and Martin Ciszek, who had emigrated to the United States in the 1890s.[2] A former gang member, he shocked his family by deciding to become a priest. Ciszek entered the Jesuit novitiate in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1928. The following year, he volunteered to serve as a missionary to Russia, which had become the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution 12 years before. Many religious rights for Soviet residents were curtailed, the religious believers were openly persecuted, and few religious believers had access to the services of a priest. Pope Pius XI made an appeal to priests from around the world to go to Russia as missionaries.[2]

In 1934, Ciszek was sent to Rome to study theology and Russian language, history and liturgy at the Pontifical Russian College (or 'Russicum'). In 1937, he was ordained a priest in the Byzantine Rite in Rome taking the name of Vladimir (see Russian Greek Catholic Church).[3]

In 1938, Ciszek was sent to the Jesuit mission in Albertyn in eastern Poland.[2] With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland and forced Ciszek to close his mission. Arriving in Lviv, he realized that it would be very easy for a priest or two to enter the Soviet Union amid the streams of exiles going East. After securing the permission of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, he crossed the border in 1940 under the assumed identity of Władymyr Łypynski. With two of his fellow Jesuits, he travelled 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) by train to the logging town of Chusovoy, in the Ural Mountains. For one year, he worked as an unskilled logger, while discreetly performing religious ministry at the same time.

Other Languages
čeština: Walter Ciszek
español: Walter Ciszek
français: Walter Ciszek
italiano: Walter Ciszek
русский: Чишек, Уолтер
slovenčina: Walter Ciszek