Richynsky, Arsen

Richynsky, Arsen [Річинський, Арсен; Ričyns'kyj], b 25 June 1892 in Tetylkivtsi, Kremenets county, Volhynia gubernia, d 13 April 1956 in Dzhusaly, Kzyl-Orda oblast, Kazakhstan. Orthodox church activist, physician, and theologian. He completed studies at the theological seminary in Zhytomyr and then at the medical faculties of Warsaw University and Kyiv University. After graduating in 1916, he established a medical practice in Volhynia and became a strong proponent of the Ukrainianization of the Orthodox church in the region; after the Revolution of 1917 he advocated the transfer of its jurisdiction from the Moscow patriarch to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church. To further these goals in the interwar period, he financed, published, and edited several publications, including Nova doroha, Na varti, Ridna tserkva, and Nashe bratstvo. In June 1927 Richynsky organized a major gathering of Volhynia eparchy’s laity in Lutsk to discuss church matters. He headed the ‘Church Committee,’ elected at the gathering, that co-ordinated the implementation of resolutions. The committee was dissolved in the summer of 1928 by Polish authorities concerned about its growing militancy. Richynsky’s activities also brought him into conflict with the Russophile hierarchy of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox church, and he was excommunicated in April 1929 (he was permitted to rejoin the church a year later). In 1939 he was jailed in the Bereza Kartuzka concentration camp by the Polish Sanacja regime. When the Red Army occupied Volhynia, he was arrested and sent to a labor camp, in 1940 or 1941, from which he never returned. He languished in a prison in Gorky oblast, RSFSR, until 1942, when he was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp (where he worked as a physician). Richynsky was not allowed to return to the Volhynia region after his release in 1949, and he spent the remainder of his days in Kazakhstan.

Richynsky was the author of numerous articles on theology and the history and problems of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. His most important work is the book Problemy ukraïns'koï relihiinoï svidomosti (Problems of Ukrainian Religious Consciousness) published in Ternopil in 1933, in which he dealt, among others, with the theological interpretation of the interrelationship between specific local national traditions and the universality of the Christian religion. In 1999 the Kremenets Medical College was named in honor of Arsen Richynsky, and in 2009 a memorial museum dedicated to him was established in Kremenets.

Arsen Richyns'kyi – Ideoloh ukraïns'koho pravoslav’ia (Kyiv 1998)

Marko Robert Stech

[This article was updated in 2021.]

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