Skip to comments.Vatican to begin review of Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J. of Pennsylvania for sainthood
Posted on 03/12/2006 10:33:05 PM PST by Coleus
The Diocese of Allentown is asking the Vatican to canonize a Shenandoah priest who survived more than two decades of imprisonment in the Soviet Union.
The diocese sent three crates of materials concerning the Rev. Walter Ciszeks life to Rome two weeks ago. The crates included six cardboard boxes that contained things such as sworn testimony from 45 witnesses and thousands of typed pages of his writings and meditations. The documents reportedly took 16 years to compile. The Vatican is slated to review them beginning Tuesday. They arrived last week, Sister Albertine of the Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League in Shenandoah said Saturday night. We got official word they are there.
That is good because it means the church has recognized that Father Walter is a person worth looking more deeply into to determine whether he should be canonized as a saint, Sister Albertine added.
The sister further said the dioceses Monsignor Anthony Muntone is on his way to Rome to open the boxes for examination this week. She added this was the first step in the process.
The packages have to be opened in his presence, Sister Albertine said. She added that the crates and other packages had to be sealed and had to arrive untampered.
We had to send copies of his documents both published and unpublished that will prove in his writings he led a heroically virtuous life, Sister Albertine said. The documents that were sent in contain that proof. We had a great deal of his unpublished writings from things such as retreats and mailings that people were gracious enough to give to the cause, Elaine Cusat of Hazleton, who is involved in the drive, said.
Born in Shenandoah in 1904, Ciszek was ordained in Rome in 1937 and sent to Poland that year. But when Nazi Germany overran the country, he and his parish fled to the Soviet Union. There, he was arrested by the Soviet secret police, at the time called the NKVD (later renamed the KGB), and charged first with being a Nazi spy a common charge regarding anyone whod been in territory once controlled by the Nazis under Stalins USSR then with being a spy for the Vatican.
He spent the next 23 years in various prison camps in the U.S.S.R. First, he was sent to the notorious Lubianka Prison in Moscow, where he was held five years, some of it in solitary confinement. Later, he was sent to labor camps in Siberia. As with other political prisoners in the U.S.S.R., Ciszek was beaten, starved and drugged. Still, while in Siberia, he celebrated Mass in labor camps despite the virtual ban on religious practices in Stalins U.S.S.R.
He suffered a lot when he was in prison, because he was a priest, Sister Albertine said. They wanted him to acknowledge he was a Vatican spy. But he wasnt a spy. He used to pray for those who tortured him thats where his heroism and virtuosity showed; the way he acted toward them. Thats why we feel he deserves to be acknowledged as a saint. Ciszek was finally released from Siberia in 1955, when Nikita Khrushchev solidified his control over the country and liberalized some of Stalins iron grip. But he remained in the country until 1963, when Moscow and Washington worked out a swap of sorts Ciszek was allowed to return to the United States in exchange for Washingtons release of two Soviet spies.
He wrote of his experiences in the U.S.S.R. in a book titled With God in Russia. It was originally published by McGraw-Hill in 1964 and has remained in print as a paperback ever since. It is sometimes mentioned along with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyns Gulag Archipelago as vivid descriptions of Stalins labor camps. Upon his return to the United States, Ciszek took up residence at Fordham University in New York, where he held retreats, gave lectures and counseled. He later wrote a second book, He Leadeth Me.
Ciszek died in 1984. The drive to canonize him began five years later. The Carmelite Sisters of Sugarloaf got the petitions to begin the process, Cusat, whos been involved in the drive since its inception, said. They were under the Archdiocese of Passaic (N.J). But in about 1996, it got transferred to the Diocese of Allentown.
But even if the documents sent are accepted, the process is still far from complete. To be canonized, two miracles must be attributed to his intervention. They will examine (the sent documents) in Rome at the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, Sister Albertine said. They will examine them thoroughly to see if they are valid. And if these documents prove Father led a heroically virtuous life, and thats accepted by the church, they begin to see if there are possible miracles.
Miracles can only come from God, Sister Albertine added. But a miracle, if a person prays for one in someones name, is an endorsement by God that this person led a heroically virtuous life. A first miracle attributed to him would mean he was blessed; a second would get him canonized. While the drive isnt at the miracle stage yet, a Coaldale family believes Ciszek interceded in the injury of their son.
The boy was injured in a car accident and was in a coma. Doctors said they werent certain what his condition would be when and if he came out of it. But the family has said he came out of it after they prayed in Ciszeks name and the boy fully recovered. Our next phase is to get more people to know the case is in Rome, Cusat said. And thats where were praying for a miracle.
I think God wants live saints.
I remember when that book came out. I never read the whole thing, but I think I read part of it published in a magazine. As this article suggests, it was one of the few that suggested what life in the Gulags was like, because even during the Cold War the MSM didn't like people to know about the depth of the evil that was Russian Communism.
Since this book was overtly religious, it didn't have as wide an exposure as Solzenitzen, but it was one of the few that took the lid off what Communism was really like.
I met Father Ciszek when I was at Fordham.
A quiet and humble man!
You didn't realize what he went through.
Since I had a lot of Soviet Politics courses, I quickly got to know his history.
I understand his hands were very big and strong from all the labor he had to do in the Soviet camps and gulags.
Yes, his hands were strong.
The Sovs must have hated him because they couldn't break him.
Stalin asked, "How many divisions does the Pope have?"
He got his answer.
Ciszek was turned in, in Russia, by a Soviet agent (George Canossa [sp?]), who had gone through the Jesuit theologate at Woodstock at the same time as Ciszek. The man was one of many sent by Stalin into the West to infiltrate seminaries. This guy was a married NKVD agent, who studied theology, got ordained, and got himself sent back to Russia, where he ratted on Ciszek and other Westerners who had been sent to Russia as missionaries.
I Knew Reverend Walter J. Ciszek Personally as a boy. He was a gentle saint back then and always had a loving smile on his face. He was a simple man who put others first and always made sure those in need of help got his help to the best and sincerest of his ability.
When I was only 9 years old I had gotten enchephilitis and it went to my brain causing me to go into my first comma for 8 weeks where one of my lungs also collapsed. after a short & temporary recovery I fell into a second comma for 6 more weeks where I was given my last rights 3 times. As a result I had gotten a disease called Epelipsy having Grand Mal seizures every 9 weeks. and the medications caused much emotional problems with my life as well. However. Fr. Ciscek would always say to my mother Nick is in my “clinic” as he pointed to his head and he would pray for me often as well as visit us whenever time allowed him. He became my mothers spiritual director becuse now my mother needed even more strenth because she had a young child from at birth was profoundly brain damaged and now a young boy with epelepsy and 4 other children to care for. my mother prayed always as father cisezek taught her and moreso after his death. father cisezek taught my mother stenth through prayers and sincere devotion to the two hearts I believe and to this day watches over all our family from heaven.
The summer of 1987 My Grand Mal seizures stopped and I have not had one to date . I still pray and ask Fr ciszek to protect my family daily. THROUGH THE UNITY OF JESUS AND MARY Reverend Fr. Walter J. Ciszek will allways be a dear and special part of my life as Don Bosco was to his Children.
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