Ivan Ziatyk was born on 26 December 1899 in the village of Odrekhova, some 20 kilometers south-west of the town of Sanok (now a territory of Poland). His parents, Stefan and Maria, were poor peasants. When Ivan was 14, his father died. The burden of bringing up the child was taken up by his mother and elder brother Mykhailo, who took the place of his father for Ivan. (1)
In his late teenage years, Ivan decided to follow his calling from God and prepare for the Catholic priesthood. He entered the Ukrainian Catholic seminary in Przemyśl where he spent time studying Christian spirituality, philosophy, theology together with the history and Liturgy of the Ukrainian Rite Catholic Church. He was ordained to the diaconate and then priesthood in 1923. For some time Father Ivan had desired to live a more austere life and, in 1935, made the decision to join the Redemptorists. Although he was an ordained priest, he was required to spend a year in the novitiate which was located near Lviv in western Ukraine, making his first profession in August 1936.(2)
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The end of World War II was the beginning of a terrible period in the history of Ukraine, of the Greek-Catholic Church, and of the Lviv Province of CSsR. in the spring of 1946 Soviet secret police gathered Redemptorists from Ternopil, Stanislaviv, Lviv, and Zboiska to Holosko, and placed them in a non-heated wing of the monastery. Fr. Ziatyk was among those gathered in Holosko. Redemptorists stayed there for two years under constant surveillance of the secret police. Their presence was checked three or four times a week. The confreres were often taken for interrogation, in the course of which they were promised various benefits in exchange for betrayal of their faith and monastic vocation. On 17 October 1948 all the Redemptorists staying in Holosko were told to board trucks which transported them to the Studite monastery in Univ.
Soon thereafter, the Redemptorist Provincial Fr. Joseph De Vocht was deported to Belgium. Before his departure, he transferred his duties of Provincial of the Lviv Province and of Vicar General of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to Fr. Ivan Ziatyk. This caused the secret police to pay special attention to Fr. Ziatyk. On 5 January 1950 a decision was made to arrest Fr. Ziatyk, and on 20 January the warrant was issued. After numerous interrogations, on 4 February 1950 Fr. Ivan Ziatyk was accused: “Ivan Ziatyk indeed has been a member of the Redemptorist order since 1936; he promotes the ideas of the Roman Pope of spreading the Catholic Faith among the nations of the whole world and of making all Catholics”.
The investigation of Fr. Ziatyk’s case lasted for two years. Fr. Ziatyk spent the entire period in the Lviv and Zolochiv prisons. During the period from 4 July 1950 to 16 August 1951 alone, he was interrogated 38 times, while the total number of interrogations he underwent was 72. Despite the cruel tortures that accompanied interrogations, Fr. Ziatyk did not betray his faith and did not submit to the atheist regime, although his close relatives were accustomed to persuade him to do so.
The verdict was announced to Fr. Ziatyk in Kiev on 21 November 1951. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for “cooperating with anti-Soviet nationalistic organization and anti-Soviet propaganda”. The term was to be served in the Ozernyi Lager prison camp near the town of Bratsk in Irkutsk region.
During his imprisonment, Fr. Ziatyk suffered terrible tortures. According to witnesses, on Good Friday 1952 Fr. Ivan Ziatyk was heavily beaten with sticks, soaked in water, and left unconscious outside, in the Siberian frost. Beating and cold caused his death in a prison hospital three days later, on 17 May 1952.(3)
On 6 April 2001, the Holy See recognised Father Ivan Ziatyk as being a martyr and he was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 27 June, the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the patroness of the Redemptorists.(4)
(1) Bl. Ivan Ziatyk (from "St. John the Baptist Ukranian Catholic Church in Newark")
(2) Ivan Ziatyk (from"Wikipedia")
(3) Beatified Redemptorists (from "Redemptorists Ireland")
(4) Ivan Ziatyk (from "Like2do.com")