Memorial of Bl. Anthony Lesczewicz and Bl. George Kasyra

Date: 
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

These two martyrs of World War II were beatified as part of 108 Polish Martyrs of World War II by St. John Paul II on June 13, 1999.  They were martyred in Rosica, Belarus, in 1943.

Blessed Anthony Leszczewicz was born on September 30, 1890, in the parish of Wojstom, in the diocese of Vilnius. He worked as a diocesean priest from 1914 to 1938.  He professed vows in the Congregation of Marians on June 13, 1939.

In accordance with his desire, he was sent to the Marian house in Druja in the region of Vilnius, where he dedicated himself to pastoral work, house management, and teaching in the school. In September of 1939, Druja was occupied by the Bolsheviks, and, in 1941, by the Germans.

Soon after, he was appointed superior of the mission beyond the river Dzwina, on territories taken over by the Soviet Union. There he undertook the work of evangelization together with a group of Marian priests and Sisters of the Servants of Jesus in the Eucharist.

During a punitive expedition against partisan activity, he voluntarily remained with the faithful, and together with them was burned by the Nazis in Rosica on February 17, 1943.

Blessed George Kaszyra was born on April 4, 1904, in a village of Belarus, of Orthodox parents. In 1907, his mother became a Catholic. After the death of his parents, he was brought up by his relatives.

In 1922, he, too, became a Catholic and a year later entered the Marian school at Druja. After a year in school, he sought admission to the Marian Congregation. Upon completing the novitiate, he made his religious vows in 1926. Following graduation in 1929, he studied philosophy in Rome and theology in Vilnius, where he was ordained a priest in 1935.

He was placed in charge of the Marian seminarians in Vilnius for a year. Then, for two more years, he worked in Druja as prefect in the school and educator of the religious students. In 1938, he was appointed Superior of the House of Rasna in Polesie. When the Bolsheviks arrived there in October of 1939, he went to Lithuania.

In July 1942, Fr. George was able to leave Lithuania and go to Druja. From there, on the summons of Fr. Leszczewicz, he went immediately to Rosica, where they conducted the mission together, using Polish, Belarussian, or Russian languages, according to the local need.

During the punitive expedition undertaken by the Nazis for partisan activity in that region, Fr. Kaszyra remained voluntarily with he confined people, fulfilling priestly ministry and saving them from despair. He was burned together with them in Rosica on February 18, 1943.