The list of Salesians on the path to beatification and canonization continues to grow! I feel so blessed to be part of the Salesian community and to share this beautiful vocation! The following is a story of Salesian Fr. Stepan Czmil, SDB whose cause has just been introduced. He actually a secret Bishop ordained for the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Here is the story from the Salesian News Agency:
The Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, meeting at Lviv between 2 and 9 September, agreed to the request of the Salesians to introduce the process for the beatification and canonisation of Fr. Stepan Czmil, the first Salesian Ukrainian priest of the Byzantine-Ukrainian Rite.
Fr Czmil, born in 1914 at Sudova Vyshnia, in Ukraine, left his country 1932 on account of the religious and political difficulties in Ukraine. With other young men he arrived at the aspirantate of in Ivrea, and after going to the novitiate at Villa Moglia, Chieri, the young Stepan Czmil made his first religious profession as a Salesian in 936. Having completed his theological studies in Rome he was ordained a priest in 1945. He left as a missionary for Argentina, and then returned to Italy where in Rome he was Rector of the Pontifical Junior Seminary for Ukrainian boys of the diaspora, between 1961 and 1967 and from 1976 until the day of his death on 22 January 1978.
About twenty years after his death, John Paul II recognised the validity of the ordination of Stepan Czmil as a Bishop which took place secretly on 4 April 1977. Fr Stepan Czmil, together with two other priests, was ordained Bishop by Cardinal Josef Slipij, Metropolitan of Leopoli, in the Studite monastery in total secrecy.
Cardinal Lubomir Husar, Major Archbishop of Kiev and President of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, who had known Fr Czmil personally, testifies: “Fr Stepan was so holy that his holiness did not appear, it was indeed deep within him and it flowed from him, throwing its light on those who came in contact with him … To speak of the reputation for holiness of Fr Stepan, is more than right and proper because he really was a saint!”
Bishop Andriy Sapelak SDB, Bishop emeritus of Santa Maria del Patrocinio in Buenos Aires of the Ukrainian, has written: “The beatification and the canonisation of Fr Stefano Czmil would be an enrichment for the Ukrainian Church. A small piece in the mosaic of the holiness of our people, because through Fr Stepan we shall be enriching ourselves with the holiness of Don Bosco, who with his inspirational holiness opened the doors of holiness not only to religious, martyrs and to the faithful but especially to the young, following the example of fourteen year old Saint Dominic Savio, his pupil.”
St Peter`s Basilica, 15 October 1961. Ordination of Bishop A Sapelak. On the left Fr Stepan Czmil and Bishop Sapelak.