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Josyf Kobernyckyj-Dyckowskyj was born on February 17, 1892.  He was born to a very religious and well-to-do family. He was known by everyone as Josyf Slipyj. Josyf had an older brother whom he loved very much and who encouraged Josyf’s thirst for knowledge. As a young boy Josyf had a great love of learning. He also had a great love of God and religion. 

Josyf went to school in Ternopil. At the age of 25, Josyf entered the priesthood and then went on to university to complete a doctorate of philosophy in 1920. That same year he became a professor. Josyf was a pastor and a scholar. He wrote about theology, religion, philosophy, literature, history, religious law and art. In 1939, Metropolitan Sheptycky made Josyf an Archbishop. Archbishop Josyf Slipyj chose his motto carefully - 


through hard work we can reach the stars in heaven

Josyf’s strength was put to the test as he was put in prison, tortured, frozen, starved, mocked and degraded. Twice near death, he was saved by other prisoners. Dressed in rags, with bandages around his ankles and knees, Josyf walked barefoot in minus 45 degree weather in Siberia. Barely alive, Josyf finished his 8-year sentence in Siberia, but was immediately given another 5 year sentence. Josyf Slipyj was imprisioned for a total of 18 years.

On Feb 9, 1963 Josyf was released from Siberia, exciled from Ukraine and arrived in Rome at the invitation of Pope John XXIII from where he was able to travel extensively and visit his flock all over the world.  In January 1965, Josyf was made Cardinal. In 1984 on September 7th, Josyf Cardinal Slipyj died of pneumonia at the age of 92. Ukrainians will forever remember Josyf Cardinal Slipyj as a great spiritual leader and their beloved Patriarch.  

Slipyj sent a delegation of priests to Moscow to try to make the Ukrainian Catholic Church legal in Ukraine. Then the war came. During the war years, Ukrainian priests were murdered, put in prison and deported – all for believing in and praying to God. Josyf was one of these priests, arrested by the Soviets, brainwashed and interrogated, only because of his strong belief in and for the church, Archbishop Slipyj was sentenced to execution by a firing squad. Somehow, he was spared. Instead, he was sentenced to Siberian labour camps for 8 years. Josyf refused to abandon his religion. Josyf’s strength lay in knowing he was not alone. He suffered horrendously during his time in Siberia, yet he always had faith in God, the church and the people of Ukraine.


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