"We must tell the truth that our Greek Catholic priests also were treated with great respect not only among prisoners but also by the administration. Though there were persecutions, but we worked honestly, they had never any hassles with us. What should have been done, we always did, all plans, as was said, we performed. But on the other hand he was treated – and as a great figure with respect, and as a person - himself and his behavior. When he was walking by, all stood up, all looked, all greeted him- because this was the Metropolitan. Not because of he was Metropolitan, and because this was such a man as he could sit at home like all the others sit, and maybe somewhere in the office himself, but, you see, chose this place as the Metropolitan "
"It was Sunday, and this father Drybitko, who was always present, he was on duty in the shop where we worked, and he says:" We will prepare it. " So we cleaned, wiped, dried well, because we had nothing to spread, only he had a napkin, which he used to cover during the Service. On the machine, on the table of circular saw, on iron, he set up everything and said that we need to lead the Service. My first service was on the circular table, on iron ... It was the first God service, then I was consecrated. Well, what we had, we have not these chalices, we only got a small cup, very small, as in the pharmacy, they gave me and gave me also a little paten – and that’s all. I have already conducted the Service myself. I put in the bedside table, because it was a little bit hard for me. Also we should mention that we did not have the text of the Service, and I did not know it by heart. I knew, but not by heart. So our metropolitan gathered us and said that they should write me a text of the service. And divided: that one to Gospel, to Wisdom, that after the Gospel, and then a second one again, in lumps. There were five of them, and they wrote it. I, copied at such a moment, that no one could see me, just in one day. So I was reading it, fearing that someone could see and take it. I was afraid not because somebody can take it, but that the Holy Gifts can be taken, I was afraid because of that. Then they have written it, and I had a text of the Service, and till this day I have this little notebook , where it had been written. "
"... They came in, wondering who he was, how he looks like. Here they lead him to us, brought into the camp. We were happy, it was such a joy for us, so you should not have been happy, but we were glad that he came to us. He was chosen the place, and about a half an hour he came out to go for a walk, I approached him with another man, Mamchur Stepan, from Kyiv ... So we come to him, our Metropolitan, and I congratulated him with Ukrainian Easter. He glanced, stooped a little (he was tall, with beard), looked up, wept, put a hand on my shoulder, and said: "Thank you, thank you" - three times. I saw that he was a little embarrassed. - "Sorry" - we turned and went away. This was our first meeting and the first time I met him approximately in about half an hour.
- What was his appearance, how have you perceived him, you personally?
- First, it was a person if you look at him; he deserved a great respect in all aspects. I do not want to talk about his smartness, and how much time he has already spent in the camps and how he was tired by walking all around, how was tormented, how much he had to his own misfortune, because he refused of what was been imposed by power. He had a great willpower. He was a great man and was held in respect by everyone. I remember a small incident. Somewhere on the third day, when the Metropolitan was brought to us, he was very tall, and now was standing on the stairs into the barrack, turned to the barrack, and in front of him a superintendent was standing with a shaving machine. And he, standing on the stairs, was shaving him. He stood on the stairs a bit higher, for there he was short, and the Metropolitan higher. He was shaving his head bold; I looked and thought, "God, you do not know who you are shaving."
"I was not present at the church service, none of our priests was not even. Only one, the one that was there beside him, our Father, forgot the name, I can not remember now. The fact that we could not been together in any way, we always protected. When he served a service, we always carried around the camp such kind of service to warn in any case, in order not to disturb him. But the same ones that were there, all sorts of sectarians, nobody has ever disturbed. If they saw that he was serving, they could stay there for a few minutes for curiosity and then left the barrack.
- Where the Metropolitan was conducting the Liturgy?
- He slept on these two-stored beds ...
- Nary, he had a place down. He had a third bed on the right side, and the sixth from the left side in that row- there he had his bedside table. Sitting, partly on his bed, there were all prepared in his bedside table: when it was a necessity, he opened the bedside table and took out of there, in case of ceremonies or something. "
"When it was agreed that the Metropolitan will consecrate me, Father Drybitko said: "Well, how come, we need a cope, we should come up with something". And now it was August 19th, on a great feast. It has been agreed that within the 15 min. past 10 in the morning we come in, in the middle of the Service, and the Metropolitan should consecrate me. But we still were not ready because we had planned to make some cope. I had a coat. We cut the lining of the coat, cut off the sleeves and that’s all, because the lining was on the coat. So we were fast as we could, so hastened, prepared, and we were even late for 3 min. to the Metropolitan. He was waiting for us that even nodded his head, why we were late, because there every minute was important... In fact, I was so deeply in that Consecration and that I wanted to be a priest, I, to tell the truth, I did not feel something special, because I was always strained regarding this. But this day I remember ... The consecration itself, of course, it has already occurred between two beds...
- Between two nary?
- Between two nary, on the floor, in front of the bedside table...
- Of the Metropolitan?
- Yes, where metropolitan slept ... It is hard to express with the words, then at that moment, it was, that this event took place behind the barbed wire, when you are imprisoned and they can give you 25 years more for it, if they would found out. But I was not afraid for myself, I was afraid for the Metropolitan. "
Volodymyr Marhitych was born on February 23, 1931 in the village Nelipyno, Svaliava Transcarpathian region in the family of Greek-Catholics. At the end of the 10th grade he was enrolled in Lviv Institute at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, graduating in 1955. During 1956-1957 he worked as an instructor of Beregivskyy Executive Committee. At the end of 1957 he was dismissed without any explanation, and on January 28, 1958 was arrested for distributing anti-Soviet leaflets. In Uzhgorod prison he was served the custodial interrogations. Volodymyr was convicted under Article 54 to 8 years of imprisonment and 5 years of revocation of rights. He fulfilled the sentence in Mordovia, first in first camp, and then in the fourth one.
He received secret „theological and philosophical studies” with the help of other Greek Catholic fathers who were with him in camps.
In the fourth camp in May 1959 he met the Greek Catholic Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj, lengthy-term prisoner of Soviet camps. And on August 19, 1960 Metropolitan consecrated him. During the camps he led an active pastoral work.
There were several attempts from the side of camp administration to induce Volodymyr Marhitych to cooperate, but he refused.
In early 1959, Volodymyr Marhitych made a complaint to the Presidium of the Supreme Council and the Board of the Supreme Court about the unjust sentence. In December 29, 1960 he received a positive response, and on December 31, he was issued a certificate and money to return home.
After returning Father initially worked as a teacher in Berehovo boarding school, taught German, French and some English, and from 1983 to 1993 – performed the duties of a tutor. At this time he also carried out active secret pastoral work, was in contact with other Greek-Catholic priests.
After Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church came out from the underground in 1989, Father Volodymyr continues his pastoral work.