Michal Popiel, son of Filip and Justyna Demkowicz, born on Feb. 21 1886 in Dobra Szlachecka Ratne in Sanok county in gentry family of Ruthenian ancestry (brothers and sisters: Jan, Stefan, Jozef, Andrzej, Maria, Anna , Cecylia, Julia) of Greek Catholic rite. He attended the grammar school in Dobra Szlachecka and then the High School in Sanok and serves in the Austrian army in Przemysl, together with his brother Josef, an student of the officer school. In 1909 Popiel decides to leave for USA where he arrived on the SM Kaiserin Aug. Victoria of Hamburg -New York line. After working several years in Chicago he was admitted to the Old Catholic Theology School of the University of Chicago. He graduated in 1916 and in the same year he married Magdalena Demko born in Besk, Sanok region and whose family was in the States.

Upon graduation Popiel was ordained by the bishop S.H. Kanfore to the priesthood of Old Catholic rite and started working in Milwaukee and Trenton parishes. There he entered the Ukrainian immigrant Orthodox Church societies and became their pastor (his wife and father-in-law were Orthodox). Finally Popiel changes to Orthodox rite. In 1917 Popiel built St. Pokrowa church in Milwaukee and St. Peter and Paul church in Trenton. On August 5, 1919 Popiel took the passport and left the States together with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law for Dobra Szlachecka. Since the church in Dobra is of Greek rite, Popiel was admitted to the Orthodox church in Krzemieniec diocese by the bishop Dionizy Waledenski, later patriarch of the Orthodox church in Poland.  In January 1920 rev. Michal Popiel was delegated to the Wolyn parishes and after several years of work there he came back to Lemko region. On August 17, 1922 the Orthodox consistory directs Popiel as a parson at St. Michal church in Karasin Wielki, township of Maniewicze, Kowel county. There Michal's first son Wlodzimierz was born (he was killed later during WW2 while fighting Germans at the Pomorze fortifications, battle of Miroslawice, as warrant officer, leading the heavy machine gun company of the 2nd infantry regiment). On January 26, 1926 Michal's second son Jan was born, later a warrant officer and a commanding officer of the anti-tank gun company in 7th infantry regiment, 3rd infantry division; he finished the campaign on May 8, 1945 in Berlin.

On May 21, 1928 rev. Michal was sent as a parson to Hyrowa in Krosno county. During 1927-31 Popiel creates many pastoral posts in the Lemko region. His works were considered by the government as anti-state and he is forced to leave the region and to return to Wolyn area. The outbreak of WW2 got him in Mielnica, Kowel county, where he was a parson. In May 1940 he was taken prisoner by Soviets and deported to the labor camp Assino near Tomsk, Siberia. His further fate was unbearable work, hunger and death of his family, and settling in Kazakhstan.

Rev. Michal returned to Poland in June of 1946 and in a month he started as a pastor in the Lemko region, in Ujscie Ruskie and Kwiaton. A year later, in July 1947 he, likewise many other Ukrainians, was deported to the Western regions, to Bobrowek in Strzelce Krajenskie county, during co-called action "Wisla". He continued there as a pastor and parson, created numerous Orthodox parishes mostly staying in the parishes of Kozuchow and Szprotawa. He died on January 1961 in Zielona Gora.

This biogram is written by Jan Popiel, the son of rev. Michal, living in Toronto, Canada.


Translation from Polish to English: sp

Jan Popiel (syn ks. Michala), Ciernista droga. Toronto 1986.
Maszynopis Kazimierz Urban, Kosciol Prawoslawny w Polsce 1945-1970. (Rys Historyczny) Zaklad Wydawniczy NOMOSK. Krakow 1996
Kazimierz Urban, Z Dziejow Kosciola Prawoslawnego na Dolnym Slasku 1946-1956. Orthodruk, Bialystok 1998
Eugeniusz Misilo, Akcja "Wisla". PWN. Warszawa 1994

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