Paul P. Gojdich, O.S.B.M. was born to a priestly family on July 17, 1888, in Rus’ki Pakljany, Sharish District, presently
in Eastern Slovakia. After his graduation from the gymnasium in Presov, he continued his philosophical and theological studies
at the Central Seminary in Budapest, and was ordained a celibate priest on August 27, 1911.
In the fall of 1912, after a short period of pastoral
work, he was appointed prefect of the Eparchial Boarding School for boys in Presov, known as “The Alumneum.”
At the same time he became an instructor of religion in the city’s secondary schools. The young students found
in him an inspiring leader and spiritual guide.
Several years later Father Gojdich was appointed to the Bishop’s Chancery Office, where eventually he achieved the rank
of Chancellor. The promise of a swift career did not attract him. He yearned for a more peaceful and prayerful life, so he
decided to become a Basilian monk. In 1922, Father Gojdich entered St. Nicholas Monastery on Chernecha Hora, near Mukachevo.
As a Basilian, Father Gojdich
became an exemplary monk, zealous missionary, and dedicated guide of youth. Appointed Director of the Apostleship of Prayer,
he became instrumental in spreading the practice of frequent confession and holy communion throughout the Eparchy of Mukachevo.
Taking into consideration his wide activity in those days, one wonders where he found the time and the strength to accomplish
so many things. The answer was simple--the Eucharistic Christ. He usually spent long hours, mostly at night, in the chapel
before the tabernacle. There he refreshed his spirit, regained his strength, and found new inspiration. After having charged
his heart with love of God in prayer, he then channeled this love toward his apostolic work. As in the case of St. Paul, the
love of Christ was indeed compelling him (2. Cor. 5:14). Behind the monastic walls he found the fulfillment of his heart’s
But this happiness did
not last long, for in the fall of 1926 he was summoned back to Presov as the Apostolic Administrator. Father Gojdich tried
to decline this unexpected appointment, since he had not yet made his solemn profession as a Basilian monk. But it was to
no avail. He was instructed to make his monastic profession as soon as possible, and then come to Rome for his episcopal ordination.
He was ordained bishop at the Basilica of St. Clement in Rome, on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1927. After his
consecration Pope Pius XI presented Bishop Gojdich with a gold pectoral cross, saying: “This cross is only a symbol
of all those heavy crosses that you will have to carry during your episcopal ministry. But take courage, my son, the good
Lord will help you carry them with dignity and love.”
Bishop Gojdich proved himself to be indeed a Good Shepherd, wholeheartedly dedicated to his new tasks. His tireless efforts
to promote the spiritual life of his faithful and to strengthen their Catholic faith can hardly be described. Much can be
said about his works of charity. God only knows how many people were helped or assisted by him. His charity and kindness were
proverbial. He still showed his fatherly concern for youth, orphans, religious press, parochial schools, eparchial institutions,
religious communities, etc.
Communists came into power in Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1948. They immediately launched a vicious attack against the
Greek Catholic Church and maliciously denounced Bishop Gojdich as a traitor and an enemy of the people. It was evident that
the Communist authorities decided to liquidate the Eparchy of Presov just as they liquidated the Eparchy of Mukachevo. Bishop
Gojdich, the good shepherd, prepared his faithful for the inevitable. “My dear people, we must be ready to face the
most difficult times in the history of our Church. But remember the early Christians. For their faith they were ready to sacrifice
everything, even their own lives. They trusted our Divine Savior, Who said: “Blessed are you when they persecute
you and insult you on account of my name. Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven!”(Mt. 5:11-12).
Therefore, take courage and hold fast to your faith.”
On April 28, 1950, the Communists forcibly liquidated the Greek Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia and imprisoned Bishop Gojdich
for “opposing the people’s will.” Several months later he was tried for “treason and espionage,”
and condemned to life imprisonment. The people, however, were convinced that their Bishop was innocent of alleged crimes.
They knew that he was imprisoned and condemned only for his unwavering loyalty to the Catholic Church. It was obvious that
the Communists fabricated their accusations against him after his imprisonment to justify their forced liquidation of the
Presov Eparchy. The bishop’s trial in Bratislava was indeed a “parody of justice,” and the faithful rightly
considered him A Confessor of the Faith.
Bishop Gojdich was constantly moved from one prison to another. The prison authorities did not want the people to know where
their Bishop was locked up. However, the people always learned of his whereabouts and used to come in procession to pray for
their saintly bishop. Of course, they were not permitted inside the prison and had to remain outside the walls. They usually
gathered in front of the barred window of the Bishop’s cell and there they prayed and sang religious songs. These were
the people whom Bishop Gojdich, according to the communist allegations, “hated and betrayed.”
During Bishop Gojdich’s rehabilitation in 1958,
it was proven beyond any doubt that all the accusations against him at the trial were nothing more than lies made up by his
prosecutors in order to keep him in prison and isolated from his faithful. A certain Ferdo Ondrushka, who attended Bishop
Gojdich in the prison hospital before his death, writes: “Bishop Gojdich cherished an immense love for his clergy and
people. He often spoke of Greek Catholic customs and ceremonies, and with great enthusiasm used to explain why his people
must remain united with the Apostolic See. He told us how, during his long interrogations, they used to torture him and how
they tried, with all kinds of promises to sway him to accept Orthodoxy. They even promised to make him a patriarch ...”
And he concludes: “There is no doubt in my mind that Bishop Gojdich was a martyr for his Faith!”
In prison Bishop Gojdich never complained about his own
pains, so everyone believed that he was in good health. Then suddenly he became seriously ill. They rushed him to the prison
hospital, but the doctors were unable to find anything wrong with him, even though his pains persisted. He was in and out
of the hospital several times. Finally the doctors became suspicious. They sent him to a famous clinic in Brno, Moravia. There
they diagnosed that he had cancer which was terminal. Upon his return to Leopoldov prison he was immediately placed in the
hospital, where he remained until his saintly death. A few weeks before his death a high official from the Ministry of the
interior came to see Bishop Gojdich and promised him amnesty. It somewhat disturbed the Bishop, but later he declared: “I
do not think it worthwhile to exchange my martyr’s crown for two or three years of freedom. However, I leave the decision
to God. Let Him do as He pleases!”
Of course, the Communist authorities never kept their word and Bishop Gojdich remained in the prison.As his condition became
more grave, his sufferings and pain increased. Finally. he ended the course of his saintly life on his 72nd birthday, July
17. 1960, in the prison of Leopoldov, Slovakia. For ten long years he carried the chains of Christ, giving a living testimony
to his heroic faith and loyalty to the Apostolic See. He truly died as our valiant Confessor.