| Servant of God Wladyslaw Bukowinski (born on Dec 22, 1904 in Berdyczow – died in 1974 in Karaganda). A Polish catholic priest, a prisoner of the Gulag concentration camps, a longterm missionary priest in Kazakhstan and the whole Soviet Middle Asia.
He was a priest of the diocese of Cracow – he took holy orders from card. Adam Stefan Sapieha’ hands on June 28, 1931. In the years 1931 – 1935 he was a vicar and a catechist in Rabka, in the years 1935 – 1936 a vicar and a catechist in Sucha Beskidzka. On August 1936 he went to Luck in Volhynia. He worked there nine years, until January 1945.
In the years 1936 – 1939 he was a lecturer of catechetical instruction and sociology in the Luck Priest Seminary. From 1938 he was a general secretary of the Catholic Action Diocesan Institute, the head of the Higher Institute of Religious Knowledge and the subeditor of The Catholic Life. All this time Fr. Bukowinski taught religious instruction at schools.
After the outbreak of the Second World War, already after the Soviet invasion on Poland on September 17, 1939 and the Soviet Army encroachement on Volhynia, the bishop of Luck Adolf Szelazek appointed Fr. Wladyslaw Bukowinski a parish priest in the Luck cathedral. His spiritual assets, intelligence, deliberation and self-control added to a good command of Russian created a chance that he would be able to defend the remainings of the religious freedom. A year had not passed of the Soviet domination and the parish priest of the cathedral found himself in the prison. On August 22, 1940 he was arrested by the NKVD for the first time. He was sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. After the outbreak of the German – Soviet war, when the front was approaching at a rapid pace, the NKVD started to liquidate the prison in Luck through fusillading the prisoners. Together with other prisoners on June 23, 1941 he was about to be shot by the NKVD, but the bullet did not reach him – he escaped death miraculously, he was not even scratched. Lying down on the prison yard under the bullets he was absolving his neighbours. When the Germans entered, he resumed his duties of the parish priest in the cathedral.
The German occupation in Volhynia is a period of a mass annihilation of Jews, onslaughts of the Ukrainian nationalists on Polish settlements and retaliations, fighting of the Polish self- defence centres, partisan fighting of the 27th Infantry Division of the Home Army with the Germans in January and February 1944, the return of the Red Army and the Soviet domination – the time of the so-called “second Soviets”. In spite of fulfilling his duties of the parish priest zealously, Bukowinski catechizes children, manages permanent care of the prisoners’ families, saves Jewish children and hides them in catholic families, feeds up and looks after the victims of the Ukrainian ethnic cleansings coming in masses from Luck, feeds up the Soviet prisoners of war dying in masses of hunger in prison.
For the second time he was arrested at nigh 3 - 4 January 1945 together with the bishop of Luck Adolf Piotr Szelazek and othe priests working in Luck (the whole chapter of the bishopric of Luck). In 1946 he was sentenced to ten years in a labor camp; he served the sentence in the mines of Karaganda. After suffering a punishment of nine years, seven months and six days of imprisonment Rev. Wladyslaw Bukowinski was released from the camp in 1955 and transported for three years to Karaganda under pledge of reporting monthly and a warrant of work in the indicated works (the ten – year sentence was remissioned by five months for “good conduct”). Receiving food parcels Rev. Bukowinski remembered more then once the prisoners, particularly the Poles, sharing with them his food. For the following 20 years he worked in Kazachstan, exercising pastoral care over the religious of various nationalities, going to distant towns, villages and hamlets all round the Soviet Middle Asia with the ordained ministry.
He died in Karaganda and is buried there. The author of posthumous recollections of the penal servitude and transportation years.
On June 19, 2006 in the chapel of the metropolitans of Cracow, a solemn beginning of the canonization process of Servant of God Rev. Wladyslaw Bukowinski took place.