«- Was there the ability to perform pastoral ministry inside the prison? Did you confess the people? Tell about that work.
- Yes, I did. In the Lontsky prison before the sentence the people confessed and took Holy Communion. I spoke to them, gave the recollections. There was also a Pole, his name was Dlugosh.
- Who was he?
- He was a priest and a teacher of Latin at the Polish Spiritual Seminary. He was called the father John Dlugosh. That was before Easter, I gave the recollections. There were the other priests too. There was also Sherstyuk, a Studite there.
- A celibate priest, yes, a Studite. That Sherstyuk was not only a monk but also a superior.
- Was he a superior?
- Yes. There was a teacher of the Polytechnic Institute – he was comrade Medvid’, then he was discharged. His wife took up his case and somehow she managed that he was discharged. What was then? The people took Holy Communion, confessed willingly. There was a case, we had one dissenter, and he was a Baptist. At first he said no-no. And then some day before Easter, he agreed. Because we were not allowed to get any food parcels just for over a month. And they often gave us the salted fish and no water. So we were very thirsty. And they were all confessed. Then there were 7 fathers.
- And all the fathers confessed, didn’t they?
- Yes, both the fathers confessed and I did, I was confessed and I confessed the others. It happened before Easter, as it must have been. And, it was interesting that some people lived in L’viv at 20-30 meters from the church, and for 20 years they weren’t in the service. And they could find the time to be present there.»
«... Please, describe the most dramatic and consolation moments of your life in prison.
- The first dramatic one was the very imprisonment. It already unbalanced. The second one was that during our transportation, the thieves and bandits, who deliberately were seated to the political to rob them. They bit us. Then, indeed, it was the worst thing that could be. They could even take the shirt and drawers off us. A woman saw me as I was in the pants with one pant leg torn, and thought she should bring the new ones, but it was in vain, because everything new was taken by the bandits. But at the same time with the help of such shameless people they sold coats, underwear for a piece of bread outside the camp. There was one dramatic case there. There were more, but I’ll tell only one of them. These bandits came and immediately looked who could be robbed and of what, because they were sent secretly for a while, in order to give those things which were taken away, stolen from the prisoners to the superintendents. So they could strip someone for a piece of bread and take the clothes away. Actually, one day, one night, there were 10 or 12 of them, who burst into, and immediately began to watch. And there was a catechist from Stanislav, fr. Burnadz, who wore a golden tooth crown.
- Well, Burnadz.
- Yes, a catechist from Stanislav. They saw that he wore a golden crown, they rushed at him. They knocked him down and started beating him with fists at his mouth and finally broke that crown off. And that catechist was bleeding. So I saw it with my own eyes and worried much...
- And no one could come to the defense of him?
- They scared to intercede. Why? Because then they killed people at night. They were scared.»
«-... Did you worship at Easter? In what way?
- It’s good you reminded me. There was another priest - Father Budzinsky.
- Father Budzinskyy was with you, wasn’t he?
- Yes, Father Budzinsky. He had a large cross hidden on him. He made the sign of the cross over the cell with it and said to the bandits, "Guys, you know... Now we will pray and you should keep the order. We will pray, we need the order." They said at once, "If someone moves, he will be done for." It means to have a throat cut. Father Budzinsky and I were serving the Liturgy, singing properly. We sang everything loudly, and he pretended not to hear. Obviously he had a bit of the God’s spirit in his heart, so he did not interfere, though he stood at the door. First we sang rather timidly, then stronger, as if in church. Some people shaded a tear at this occasion.
- So was that the Divine Liturgy at Easter?
- Yes, it was. The Easter Liturgy was like that. I think that it wasn’t the less important holiday that could be in the patriarchal church.»
«... There were no priests-informants among us. That’s why they said in the interrogations, "We do not need either your signatures or anything, reserve it for yourselves. We need you to cooperate. If you cooperate, you can go easily. You will just give us a report." We answered, "But I cannot work." - "Why not?" – They asked. "For it is not work." – was our answer. "And what is that?" - "It is treason." - "Is it treason? And to serve Sheptytsky is not treason?" Then I said, "Well, so what? It is something different. He is my higher chief. I should listen to him." They summoned me many times at night for interrogation: "Who do you know and who you do not? And what was this one doing and what was the other doing?" Of course, I said that I knew nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing and understood nothing.
- Did they call for you or were you summoned?
- They called for me.
- Did they come and take to the KGB?
- Yes, they did. And there was the main office of the KGB in Dzerzhinsky Street. And now, I think, it is there. There they frightened me badly: "We’ll destroy all your family, throw you down to the basement, there are hungry rats in it. There you’ll be thrown." And those rats were like this, because they let in starving rats that attacked the people there. Then he took a revolver and began to put it into pieces. He did it deliberately to make me see how he put up the whole shop into the revolver. Then he said: "You see, I’ll pull on the trigger and you won’t be." He pulled on and on but it didn’t shoot, probably, there was a rove, which prevented the full shoot from going out. Several times he aimed at me and then said, "Yeah, you see, you are good, it may shot us...»
«... How often did you gather for the recollections?
- For 3-4 days every year before Easter.
- Where were they held, at the apartment?
- They were held at the apartment. They were at Marian Farmig’s, my place, Loshniya’s. We held them always in different places to avoid some danger and disclosure. Somehow we managed it, no one knew anything. It lasted 30 years.
- Did you disguise? Maybe did you set the table like for feasting?
- No, we didn’t. We just came, sat around and listened to what we needed. Besides, each time before or after each of us reported on the condition, in which we were, and told about some saint. We made such reports every year, in addition to the recollections. I had reports very often. So did Farmiga. The others did it less. It took some time, some work to do that. So a few were engaged in it. They took care of nothing to be missing. Each of us had a group of believers who asked for help with the baptism of the children or grandchildren, with the marriage, or with the catechesis – some people brought their children to be taught of good sense and catechesis.
- Everyone was responsible for anything different, weren’t they?
- And what were you responsible for?
- I was responsible for constant reports. If someone wasn’t able or didn’t want, then I took it for my own responsibility to avoid the break, and everything was good, from start to finish.»
„After the evil comes goodness... And after iniquity the truth comes out. The truth [always] comes back“
Jaroslav Tykhyi was born on April 22, 1913 in the town of Pidhaytsi in the Ternopil region in a family of a court official. The family had six children, three boys and three girls. When Yaroslav was 9 years old, his father died. His mother remained a widow and never married again. Jaroslav attended high school in Berezhany where he got Maturity degree and received a certificate of it in 1933. During his study he was a member of „the Plast“, belonged to the Ukrainian Catholic Youth Organization as well as to the Marian society.
His vocation to the priesthood was developed under the influence of his mother, a pious woman who wanted his son to become a priest. In 1938 he graduated from the Lviv Theological Academy .In 1941 he worked as a secretary of the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, which was engaged in charity work and helped the sick, the prisoners and the needy. He married on 22 August, 1942 to Helen Shpytkovska, a daughter of the Greek Catholic priest and professor of the gymnasium. The marriage took place in St. Peter‘s and Paul‘s church in L‘viv. Ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Nikita Budka on January 3, 1943 and appointed a vicar of St. Paraskeva-Friday‘s church in L‘viv. Six months later he was transferred to St. Peter‘s and Paul‘s church, and in 1944 he was appointed an administrator in St. Andrew‘s church in Levandivka neighborhood.
After 1944 the persecution of him began, he was called out into the KGB, there was an intimidation and inducement to cooperate. Father Jaroslav didn‘t agree to go over to the orthodoxy. Arrested on January 26, 1946, he was sentenced to 10 year imprisonment with confiscation of property and 5 year revocation of rights by the Military Tribunal of MIA in the L‘viv region on June 17, 1946. He was imprisoned in the North of the USSR. In the camp along with him there were the other priests, the fathers tried to confess the prisoners, administer Holy Communion, worship (especially on holidays). Fr. Jaroslav was convicted on parole on October 25, 1954 according to the Decree of Indemnity.
He returned to his family in L‘viv, but he was not allowed to register, and three months later he was forced to leave L‘viv. He went to the town of Pidhaitsi where he lived at his sister in law‘s. In 1958 he acquired the right of residence in L‘viv and began to work as a disinstructor in the local disinfection station, he worked till 1982. Since returning from prison he was engaged in the clandestine pastoral activities: worshipped, baptized children, confessed, married, buried. It lasted until the revival of our state, and despite the fact that he was under the constant surveillance with frequent searches and checks at home. On April 9, 1993 fr. Jaroslav Tykhyi was rehabilitated. From 1994 until his going into eternity, fr. Yaroslav was the spiritual guardian of Mother and Child Hospital „Okhmatdyt“ and a regular confessor in St. Michael‘s church, which is served by the frs. Studites. Fr. Jaroslav died on December 26, 1996 and was buried at the L‘viv cemetery.