Images of Heaven

135 South 3rd Street

Reading, PA 19602

(610) 374-0237

“The power of prayer reaches beyond all efforts of man seeking to find meaning in life. This power is available to all; it can transform mans weaknesses, limitations and his sufferings.”

Walter Ciszek, S.J., was a Polish-American born in Shenandoah, PA, one of the state’s coal regions. He spent 23 years in Soviet prisons and gulags, and was presumed dead by his family, his Jesuit order and the Church. He was released from Soviet oppression in 1963, exchanged for two Russian spies held by the U.S. government. Father Ciszek is now being considered for beatification in the Roman Catholic Church. His cause is being handled by our Diocese of Allentown, PA - Bishop Edward Cullen (details at bottom of page).


1890’s - Mother (Mary) and father (Martin) emigrate from Poland to Shennandoah, PA in the USA.

1904 - Nov. 11 - Born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

1928 - Sep 7 - Entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) novitiate in Poughkeepsie, NY.

1929 - Volunteered to answer Pope Pius XI’s call for volunteer missionaries to Russia.

1934 - Sent to Rome to study theology and Russian language, history and liturgy at the Pontifical Russicum.

1937 - June 24 - Ordained in the Oriental Rite in Rome.

1938 - Nov - Sent to Jesuit Mission in Albyrtyn, eastern Poland.

1939 - Sep 1 - Hitler invaded Poland followed quickly by the Russians.

1940 - Mar 15 - Crossed into Russia under the assumed identity of Wladimir Lipinski for 1500 mile train trip to Chusovoy in the Urals.

1940-41 - Worked as an unskilled logger.

1941 - Arrested as a Vatican spy and sent to Lubianka prison in Moscow, where he spent six years, most of which in solitary confinement.

1942 - Jul 26 - Signed a confession and found guilty of espionage. Remains in Lubianka four more years.

1946 - Sent by train 2500 miles to Krasnoyarsk then 20 days by boat to Norilsk in Siberia where he shoveled coal into freighters and then transferred to the coal mines for one year.

1947 - Transferred from mining coal to construction worker in an ore processing plant.

1953 - Oct - Sent to work in mines for two years.

1955 - Apr 22 - His 15 year hard-labor sentence is complete. Freed with restrictions to city of Norilsk. Writes to his sisters in USA.

1955 - Word reaches United States that he is still alive in Russia.

1958 - KBG instructs him to move to Krasnoyarsk where he establishes mission parishes.

1960 - KBG transfers him 100 miles south to Abakan. Works as auto mechanic for four more years.

1963 - Apr - Receive letter form sisters in USA.

1963 - Oct 12 - Returned to the U.S. in exchange for two soviet agents.

1963 - Oct 13 - Visits St. Michael's Russian Catholic Church in New York City.

1964 - Wrote “With God in Russia.” at Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA. Interviewed on nine audio tapes, now archived at Georgetown University.

1965 - Works in the John XXIII Center at Fordham University (now the Center for Eastern Christian

Studies at Scranton University) in Scranton, counseling and directing those who came to him until his death.

1966 - Becomes Sister Marija’s spiritual director and plays a role n the formation and direction of her Byzantine Carmelite community.

1973 - Wrote “He Leadeth Me.”

1984 - Dec 8 - Fr. Ciszek died - buried in Jesuit Cemetery in Wernersville, PA.

1985 - Mother Marija, Superior of Byzantine Carmelite monastery Fr. Ciszek helped found, petitions for heroic virtue recognition.

1990 - Bishop Michael J. Dudick, Eparchy of Passaic, NJ, opens official diocesan process of investigation.

Altogether, Father Walter Ciszek was absent from America for nearly 30 years, of which he spent 23 years incarcerated in the Soviet Union, 15 of them in a Siberian gulag. All through his imprisonment, Fr. Ciszek continued to pray, celebrate Mass, hear confessions, conduct retreats and do parish work. During his imprisonment through the 1940’s, 50’s and early 60’s he missed all that had developed technologically, socially and politically. What caught his attention most when he returned? - the wastefulness not just in the matter of food, but other commodities like paper and plastic, all thrown out and burned. He was also amazed that only one family should occupy a house with six, seven, or eight rooms. “I am an American, happy to be home; but in many ways I am almost a stranger.”

Comparative size of United States (bright green outline) to Siberia (light green area).

Please pray this Prayer for the Cause of Canonization of
Father Walter Ciszek, S.J.

We adore You, Most Holy Trinity, and we thank You for the exemplary life of Your servant, Father Walter Ciszek. We pray that his strong faith in Your loving providence, his great love for You, and his kindness to all people will be recognized by the Church. If it be your Will, may he be given to us as a saintly model of these virtues so that we too may be better motivated to dedicate our lives to Your greater honor and glory. We commend our petition through the prayers of the holy Mother of God. For to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is due all glory, honor and worship, now and forever. Amen.


Servant of God

Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.

Born: 11/4/1904

Died: 12/8/1984

Fr. Ciszek’s gravesite in Wernersville, PA

Click RADIO to hear Fr. Ciszek’s story told by Father Connor courtesy of EWTN.

Cause for the Canonization of The Rev. Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.
Co-Postulators: Rev. Msgr. Anthony D. Muntone and Rev. Thomas Sable, S.J.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
618 Fullerton Ave.
Whitehall, PA 18052