Fr. Ivan Levytskyi and Fr. Bohdan Geleta, were released from Russian prison.

Ivan Levytskyi CSsR and Bohdan Heleta CSsR

The official portal of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church released information stating that two Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church priests, members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Fr. Ivan Levytskyi and Fr. Bohdan Geleta, were released from Russian detention on 28 June 2024. They had been arrested in occupied Berdiansk on 16 November 2022.

On behalf of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Bishop Andriy Khimyak, Auxiliary Bishop of the Kyiv Archeparchy, and Father Oleksa Petriv, Head of the Department of External Relations of the UGCC in Ukraine, met Fathers Ivan and Bohdan in prison and conveyed them the words of great joy of the Head of the Church and all the faithful who constantly prayed for this day to come.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, expressed his sincere gratitude to the Apostolic See for the rescue of the UGCC priests. He sent special words of gratitude to Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the entire Vatican diplomatic corps. Special thanks for their mediation were expressed to Cardinal Mateo Zuppa and Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine. Each of them made an invaluable personal contribution to making this event a reality.

Since the full-scale invasion in February 2022, priests Ivan Levytskyi and Bohdan Geleta have chosen to remain with their people in the temporarily occupied territories. They served both the Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic communities, giving a light of hope to people under occupation. They were arrested, then some military items were planted in the church and accused of illegal possession of weapons. There were reports that they were being tortured mercilessly to extract a confession to a crime they had not committed.

For some time, there was no information about the prisoners. Only in May, His Beatitude Sviatoslav received the news that Fathers Ivan and Bohdan were alive and there was hope for their release. On 28 June, this day came.