Oops. Wrong url. Sorry. It is actually:
From: John Halucha <john.halucha@...
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 10:09:30 AM
Subject: [Kresy-Siberia] FYI: Book on Siberian Survivors
I am posting this on several forums where I think
there may be interest. Apologies to those of you who find duplicates in
Sault Ste Marie, Canada
Poland - Mlodow/Lubaczow, Januszewice/ Opoczno
USSR - Brygytka/Starobiels k/Pechorlag (Pieczorlag) /Abezâ€™ (Abiez)
Army - 1 Dywizja Pancerna 10.Komp.Zaop. 10.Bryg.Kaw (1st Pol Armd Div, 10th Supply Co, 10th Armd Cav Brig) / 2 Korpus 10 Baon Saperow (2nd Corps 10 Pol..Corps Tps Engs)
Author meets with Buffalo's Siberian survivors
native, Fr. Chris Zugger went online to conduct research for his
upcoming book, Jesus Walked in Magadan. Searching with key words such
as â€œSiberian survivor,â€� he quickly came across the website of the
Am-Pol Eagle and realized some of the answers he had been searching for
were right in his hometownâ€™s backyard. Fr. Zugger said he had no idea
there was such a large community of people across the Buffalo area who
had been sent to Siberia during World War II.
Fr. Zugger was at
St. Stanislaus Parish in Buffalo on June 11 talking to and interviewing
Siberian survivors about the research for his Jesus Walked in Magadan.
He said he intends to include local survivorsâ€™ stories in his new book..
The book, set to be published sometime early next year, is an in-depth
look into the lives of Catholic people who lived in Siberia and Central
It will include parishes dating back to 1914 and those
people who went underground in their religious practices from the 1920s
through 1989; people who were deported out of the Soviet Union and
Byelorussia as special settlers to Siberia, Kolyma and Kazakhstan and
their life in exile; Polish and Baltic citizens who were deported from
1930-1941 and again after 1944 to Siberia, Kolyma, all of Central Asia,
and citizens of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Baltic
States and Germany who were sent as prisoners to the Gulag and special
settlements from 1944-1950.
Also, the book will describe the
descendants of these people who were sent to Siberia and Central Asia
and describe the state of the Catholic church of today in modern
Siberia as well as in the Muslim states of Central Asia.
Zugger lived in the Buffalo area until moving away to join the
seminary. Locally, he attended St. John the Baptist School, Canisius
High School, Kenmore East, and graduated from St. Bonaventure
Fr. Zugger quickly became involved with human rights
work and became interested in the history and the aftermath of the
Soviet domination of the Catholic religion.. His interest led to
research and the suggestion that maybe he should write a pamphlet on
his findings. However, Fr.. Zugger soon found out he would need many
more pages than a pamphlet could offer as his research grew into his
first book, Journey to a Hidden Church.
This book is an overview
of Catholicism in the USSR from 1917-1955, in all republics and all
three rites of Catholicism, including Latin, Byzantine, and Armenian.
This soon led to continued research for his second book, which was
recently released on June 15, The Forgotten. That book looks more
closely at the history of Catholicism in the Soviet Union as Fr. Zugger
studied the various communities, including the Catholic parishes which
existed in 1914 in the Russian Empire and the Catholic territories
annexed by Stalin in 1939 and 1945.
After entering the priesthood it
was suggested that Fr. Zugger move to a dry climate because he was
suffering from a progressive neuromuscular disease. He was first sent
to Arizona and then soon after to his current home in Albuquerque, New
He said when he first arrived at his home parish, Our Lady
of Perpetual Help, the place was a disaster. He had to live in small
storage rooms that had been renovated into his living space and the
wind blew through the walls. Many of the families that had attended the
parish had already left because of its poor state and a rapid turnover
of priests who wouldnâ€™t put up with the living conditions. Fr. Zugger
said it was suggested by the local bishop that he just leave the
parish. However, not willing to give up he told the bishop that he
would not leave because he came from a background where his family was
persecuted for their own Catholic faith. He told him, â€œI wonâ€™t leave
until I feel I have done my job.â€�
Today Fr. Zugger is proud of the
major improvements of his parish. He said, â€œThe church is beautiful
now. Itâ€™s three times the size it was before. I was able to buy a house
to live in and I redid everything and there is even an outdoor shrine.â€�
Fr.. Zugger was able to make such drastic changes to his parish; all
while gathering extensive research that required him to travel and
interview people in various countries. He explained he was able to
handle the church and the research single handedly while dealing with
his progressive illness because of the grace of the Holy Spirit and his
He said, â€œThe story needed to be toldâ€¦.. People
talk about the Holocaust and the Nazis but nobody talks about what the
communists did. This is the first book in English to tell everyoneâ€™s
story, the Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian and others, all together. Even
by the Polish community and Polish Americans you do not find books like
this about modern Polish Catholics.â€�
With his neuromuscular disease
worsening, doctors hoped that Fr. Zugger would retire in 2005, however
there was no one to take his place in the parish so he continued with
his work. Finally a replacement was found and Fr. Zugger was able to go
on medical retirement at the beginning of last August. Today, Fr.
Zugger is able to find more time researching for Jesus Walked in
Magadan while still playing an active role at Our Lady of Perpetual
Help. He also finds more time to help individuals in need of spiritual
direction and guidance at his parish.
Above all, Fr. Zugger hopes
that his readers will be left with the lasting impression from his
books â€œthat religion can survive and be goodâ€¦. These people in
communist countries were taught that religion is bad. Religion can
survive under the most incredible circumstances and you have to make a
decision for your faith.â€�
â€œYou should be inspired by your own faith
and realize how precious our faith is,â€� said Fr. Zugger. â€œThere is so
much our faith can do for us if we open ourselves up to God.â€� He
explained he writes about people who stayed dedicated to their faith
even when they lost the presence of their priests and their sacraments.
â€œYou need to ask yourself,â€� said Fr. Zugger. â€œHow do I define myself as
a Catholic without Mass or communion?â€�
DID YOU KNOW?
â€¢ Even after
the fall of communism, its effects are still impacting countries
previously in communist control. Fr. Zugger said there are around
350,000 Polish and German descendants today who never returned to their
home country after the war.
â€¢ A great deal of these Polish descendants do not speak Polish because of the country and environment where they have grown up.
Fr. Zugger said the same descendants of those forced from their home
country many years ago ironically are heavily discouraged from finally
returning to Poland. Fr. Zugger said, â€œThese people expected to be
welcomed in. However, many native Polish and Germans think of them as
foreigners taking their jobsâ€¦ It was a tough awakening for them,
especially for those who were persecuted for being Polish and now they
canâ€™t go back because they are not Polish enough.â€�
language exams are given to these descendants who wish to return to
Poland or Germany that many find very difficult to pass.
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