"It was 1939 what I could remember. The people in our village embraced the arrival of the Bolsheviks with the caution. No matter how much they tried to convince the people that they had come to liberate them and so on, but behind that it was atheistic propaganda. That is, first the religion classes were eliminated at schools, then there were obstacles in worshipping, their agitators were sent with music while serving Liturgies either in villages or towns where they had their units. The military men walked playing the accordions and in this way they bothered. Immediately we understood that the case was serious enough and we got into a trouble".
- But there wasn’t the open persecution of priests there yet, was there?
- Why not? It was in 1941 ... There is the village of Makova not far from Butych and Boryslavka. ... They took the priest to Przemysl and tortured him leaving no trace. Then the teachers began to disappear, as well as the village leaders and the educated men. That’s why, everybody was alerted. And most of all, when there was the defeat in 1941 they executed all the people by shooting demonstrably. When they were retreating, then I was just in the field and not only me but also the people… we would have been shot, if we had not escaped into the forest."
"Sakharov, an Academician, an ordinary man, by nationality - Jew, but as a person - Democrat, realized the situation, which was during the Bolshevik’s regime ... As for our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, he supported it. Therefore, I had the opportunity to speak to him at the meeting in Luzhniki in Moscow. He regarded our Church with favor. We asked him to go on with our case of the UGCC legalization and its rehabilitation on the world stage. He promised and fulfilled it. This is the man who has remained in our memory as a very grand figure, as a true fighter, as a true democrat in this full sense. So, in the history of our nation and our Church, his name will never be forgotten. And we keep it ...When I taught the history of the Universal Church, the history of the Ukrainian Church at the Seminary in Ivano-Frankivsk, I often reminded his name and all those fighters’, who fought, not being Ukrainians, not even Greek Catholics, and worried about the cause of our Church, understood that it was also their duty in this common struggle of us and all the people that were enslaved by the Bolshevik regime. "
"When German time was ... I cannot say that there was something good for us from the Germans. No. And at least from those schools they could roll into any high schools, these or those boys were taken because there was such an instruction there. Nobody knew confidence in the future and, moreover, the wars changed one by another, those towns were already bombed on. Although the Germans did not intervene in the church affairs, but they disturbed by taking the people to Germany. My brother was taken away to Germany, as well as one my uncle and another and many young people. So we lived in the great fears all the time, both in towns and in villages, thus, that oppression was felt badly. And what was far worse that we could experience it. Our people said that the first Soviets were good, even better, because they stayed for a bit and then they fled, while the latter Soviets were harder. But we got two years of the German occupation most of all. They were bad and terrible conditions. As for the religious life - at first we were free, but the Church is people, and everything was oppressed. As if everything Ukrainian was allowed but all the intellectuals were destroyed by the Germans".
"In those years I made up a delegation to Moscow. The preparation lasted for several months because the bishops were afraid to go. Still, however, Bishop Philemon, Bishop Dmyterko and me decided to go and also the priests: Simkaylos, Ihor Voznyak, a Redemptorist, and Taras Senkiv did. We went to demand the legalization of our Church from the Supreme Soviet Government. We were to meet M.Gorbachov, and he was in China then. We insisted to meet Lukyanov, but we were refused. Then I went on hunger strike in Parliament at my risk, because I did not know if I would be supported. To my great happiness, the bishops supported me. The priests were out the question, because they supported everything. I worried about the bishops, because they could say, "We do not want." But they supported. We at once wrote a claim of starvation in this case, of a meeting with a representative of the Supreme Council in the Church affairs. And we got that meeting, but just on the third day. We starved for 3 days officially before the Parliament on the Red Square where we were filmed by the journalists from all over the world. Then there was the symposium of the international journalism in Moscow. "
"- Bishop, how did you meet the day of the UGCC legalization?
- This question must be asked to those who did not fight for the legalization. I didn’t meet it; I fought for it and lived for it. I proved it by my work and my patience to everything. I didn’t meet this legalization. I legalized it constantly since my priesthood, my diaconal ministry. I legalized it for all the time and I didn’t meet it. Because of the legalization, I doubled my work, I began to use every second for the good of the Church, to expand our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. I couldn’t compose myself that one church in the district was enough for us. So some bishops said: "Do not do that, do not tease the Russians, for it will do harm to our Church." Our bishops and the priests under their leading believed that due to this teasing, KGB might not give us the right to worship freely. Unfortunately, there was such thinking there. So, they should be asked not me how they met the legalization. In fact, as for me, I lived with this spirit and legalized the Church since the first moment of my pastoral ministry, beginning since my diaconate. I already testified then that the Church exsisted. "
You don’t give us the church, and we have hundreds of them, because each house of the Ukrainian Catholic family is our church
Pavlo Wasylyk was born in August 8, 1926 in the village of Boryslavka in Przemysl region (now Poland) in the nationally conscious Christian family. Besides him, there were ten more children in the family. He finished the primary school in his native village, later he studied in the town of Rybotychi, then in the Przemysl gymnasium. After finishing school, he entered the Seminary in Przemysl, which was closed by coming the second Soviet occupation.
In November 1945, Pavlo, along with his parents, was repatriated to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. He helped the Ukrainian insurgents with medicines, for what in April 1, 1947 he was arrested and convicted of „treason“ and „anti-Soviet propaganda“ for 10 years in „correctional labor camps.“ His imprisonment was in prison camps in the Urals, in Chelyabinsk region and Kazakhstan. In January 1, 1950 in the camp Bishop Victor Novikov (a jesuit of the Eastern rite) ordained Pavlo Vasylyk as a deacon. On serving the sentence, Deacon Pavlo pursued an active ministry.
After being discharged in 1956, Pavlo Wasylyk returned to Ternopil region, where his family lived. In November 18, 1956 he was ordained as a priest by Bishop Mykola Charnetsky. During 1956-1959 years he pursued an active pastoral ministry in Stanislavivregion, Ternopil, the Transcarpathians, Lviv and even in the Crimea, for which he was frequently persecuted. In 1959 he was arrested for the second time. This time hie served his sentence in Mordovia, where he met Metropolitan Joseph Slipy in 1960.
Having returned to Ukraine, he continued his active pastoral ministry, and in May 1, 1974 received the bishop ordination from secret Bishop Joseph Fedoryk, OSBM. As the bishop of the underground Catholic Church, Pavlo Wasylyk was bringing God‘s Word to the people in Galicia, the Transcarpathians, Volyn‘, Rivne, Khmelnytsky, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa, Moscow, Leningrad, the Crimea, the Baltic. In many towns and villages he founded the religious communities. Many times the vestments and books were confiscated from Most Reverend, and he was threatened with arrest. And he replied: „If you take the vestments, the new ones will be made. You don‘t give us the church, and we have hundreds of them, because each house of the Ukrainian Catholic family is our church. “
In the late 1980s, Bishop Pavlo became one of the most active fighters for returning the rights of the UGCC. In August 4, 1987 a group of the Ukrainian clergy and laity led by Bishop Pavlo told the world about its exit of the underground. The claim with the relative content was sent to the Holy Father John Paul II, and its copy to Mikhail Gorbachev.
In July 17, 1988 in Zarvanytsya (Ternopil region) on the occasion of the Millenium anniversary of baptizing Rus-Ukraine Bishop Pavlo along with many priests served Pontifical Liturgy openly. This liturgy was attended by nearly the 30.000 faithful.
In September 1988 he was invited to a meeting with four U.S. Senators and members of the Supreme Soviet Council in Moscow. During 1989, Bishop Pavlo repeatedly has been heading the delegation to Moscow, demanding the legalization of UGCC.
With the church‘s legalization in late 1989 Pavlo Wasylyk was appointed the auxiliary bishop of Ivano-Frankivsk, and from 1993 he was the Ordinary of the newly formed Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Eparchy. Pavlo Wasylyk died in December 12, 2004 in Kolomyia.