BISHOP Ceslaus Sipovich, whose death occurred suddenly in London last Sunday, was born on December 8, 1914 at Dziedzinka, Northern Byelorussia, into a poor farming family.
Alter attending the Secondary School of the Byelorussian Marian lathers in Druja, he entered the Congregation as a novice in 1933. From 1935 to 1938 he studied Philosophy and Theology at the University of Vilna, Because of increasingly adverse conditions under Polish administration during the late 1930's. he was obliged to leave and continue his studies abroad, first at the Gregorian University and then at the Pontifical and Oriental Institute in Rome. in 1946 he successfully defended his Doctoral thesis on Jason Smogorzewski, the 18th century Uniate Metropolitan.
He was ordained a priest of the Byzantine rite in Rome in 1940. In 1947 he was appointed Rector of the Byelorussian Catholic Mission in England, where he opened a chapel and clergy house in North London. For the next 13 years he devoted his energies to pastoral and ecumenical work.
On August 4, 1960 he was elevated to the episcopacy and consecrated during the Eucharistic Congress in Munich. thus becoming the first Byelorussian Catholic Bishop' of Eastern rite since the suppression by the Russian Tsars of the Uniate Church in 1839. He was also appointed the Apostolic Visitor of Byelorussians, with the spiritual care of the Byelorussian Catholic community overseas, a charge he exercised with great conscientiousness in the course of his frequent. worldwide travels.
From 1961 to 1968 he was the Superior General of the Congre
gation of Marian lathers, and until his death he remained a member of the Oriental Congregation and of the Vatican Commission for Oriental Canon Law.
His interest in ecumenical affairs was deep and wide ranging. He revitalised the Society or St John Chrysostom, of which he tater became Chairman. His personal charity was proverbial. He had a wide circle of friends of every religious persuasion Christian, Jewish, Muslim. Sikh and Shinto-whom he loved to entertain at his table.
His position as a leading Byelorussian churchman abroad involved him in intense and selfless social activity on behalf of his fellow countrymenAlmost from its inception he was a member of the Association of Byelorussian in Great Britain. His vision, his personal charm and ability to communicate, ensured him ready access to influential circles. From 1948 until 1960 he was the Byelorussian representative to the British Council of Aid to Refugees. In 1954 he became a founder of the Anglo Byelorussian Society. and subsequently its Vice-President.
The pursuit of learning and his commitment to the advancement of Byelorussian culture led him in 1961 to found St Cyril's House as a residence for Byelorussian students. In 1971 he established the Francis Skaryna Byelorussian Library and Museum, an unique institution in the West with a holding of 12,000 books.
Bishop Sipovich was a prelate of outstanding vision. courage and ability. He put his unshakeable faith and his great gifts at the service of the Church and the people he loved. In the face of adversity he achieved much. His life and work had upon them the imprint of true greatness.