Mykola (Nicolas) Carneckyj, bishop and apostolic exarch of Volyn’ and Pidljashja, was born on December 14th 1884 in the village of Semakivtsi (Western Ukraine), the eldest of nine children. His parents were Alexander and Parasceva, who were simple country people, and fervent Christians. He studied at the Ukrainian College in Rome from 1903-1909, taking a doctorate at the Pontifical Urban University. Ordained priest on October 2nd 1909, he taught philosophy and theology in the seminary at Stanislaviv, now Ivano-Frankivsk, where he also held the office of spiritual prefect. In 1919 he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer which through its Belgian province had, from August 1913, launched its particular missionary work in the Ukraine. From 1926 he was a missioner among the Greek-Catholics in Volyn. Named titular bishop of Lebed and apostolic Visitor for the Ukrainian Catholics of Voly and Podlachia, he was consecrated on February 8“1 1931 in the Church of St.Alfonsus in Rome. Expelled from Volyn in consequence of the soviet occupation he moved to Lviv where he was obliged to work as a stone breaker to gain a livelihood. He carried on this work without ever neglecting his pastoral duties, hearing confessions and celebrating Mass.
On April the 11th 1945 he was arrested along with all the Greek-Catholic bishops. Accused of “collaboration with the Nazi regime” and of being “an agent of the Vatican” he was condemned initially to five years of forced labour in Siberia, a sentence later increased to fifteen years. From 1945 to 1956 he lived in about thirty different soviet camps and prisons, and endured a total of 600 hours of torture and interrogation. Despite all that he found ways of comforting his fellow prisoners, hearing confessions and celebrating the Holy Liturgy.
Released in 1956, he was taken to Lviv at the point of death. He made an unexpected partial recovery so as to manage, from his sick bed, to guide the Ukrainian Catholic Church which had survived underground. He died in Lviv on April 2nd 1959, at the age of 75. There was never any doubt on anyone’s part that his death was caused by the tortures endured during those many years of detention in labours camps and soviet prisons. He is buried in the Redemptorist church of St. Josaphat at Lviv. During his apostolic visit to the Ukraine, His Holiness Pope John Paul II proclaimed him Blessed, together with twenty-four other martyrs of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, on June 27`h, 2001, the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.