Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East

Bishop Theodore Romzha Proclaimed Blessed by Pope John Paul II


Webmaster's Note: For Coverage of the Papal Trip to Ukraine see the links at the bottom of this story. The Blessed Bishop Martyr Theodore is especially remembered to those Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics who share the same ethnic roots.

Biography of Blessed Theodore Romzha, as proclaimed at the beatification ceremony at the Byzantine Divine Liturgy celebrated by Pope John Paul II on June 27, 2001 in Lviv, Ukraine. English translation from the official Ukrainian text on the Vatican Website by Mr. Alex Roman.

The Servant of God Kyr Theodore Romzha was born on April 14 1911 in the village of Great Bychkiw in Transcarpathia into the family of a steelworker.

He completed his theological studies at the Papal Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained a priest in 1936. In 1938 he became parish priest for the villages of Berezovo and Nizhny Bystry of the Khust Region.

Beginning in the autumn of 1939, he worked as a lecturer of philosophy and a spiritual director at the Spiritual Academy of Uzhorod.

He was consecrated a bishop on September 24, 1944.

The total destruction of the Greek Catholic Church was foreseen in conjunction with plans, developed in accordance with the orders of Stalin, in 1945.

Clergy and laity were to join with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Bishop Theodore Romzha categorically refused to collaborate with the government in this and defended unity with the Catholic Church, to which unity he called the clergy and the laity - and in this way he came to be a barrier to the implementation of the liquidation of the Greek Catholic Church.

They could not find anything to formally charge Kyr Theodore with, even imagined charges.

This is why the highest echelons of the government determined to kill the bishop.

During one of the Bishop's travels, a heavy military vehicle ran into the car in which the Bishop was riding along with his assistants.

The Bishop and his assistants were seriously injured in the crash and were sent to the hospital.

But here is where the general administrator of State Security ("Derzhbezpeka") orchestrated the poisoning of the Bishop which occurred on November 1, 1947.

Bishop Theodore consciously accepted a martyr's death.

Following his example, a majority of priests and laity remained faithful to the Catholic Church while Kyr Theodore Romzha became a symbol of opposition to the atheist regime.

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