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“There is something in humility which strangely exalts the heart.”

Saint Augustine

Alojz Volek was born in 1923 in Rožňnava, Czechoslovakia. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1950, but the communist government did not allow him to serve in this capacity. Instead, he was forced to work on a cleanup crew in a chemical factory, and this job gave him health problems that plagued him for the rest of his life.

Because of his worsening health, the government took him off the cleanup crew and placed him as a librarian and translator at the University of Nitra in 1964. He retired in 1983.

Father Alojz said his first legal Mass in 1989, the year the communist government fell in Czechoslovakia. He died in 2000.

After the fall of communism, my father made contact with his family in Slovakia. I had only met Father Alojz a few times, and there was always something special about him which I could not understand.

The last time I saw him, I was in Nitra for some business and I had a little free time. So I thought I should make a visit and walked to his apartment building. As I approached the building, he was coming out. The instant he saw me, his countenance radiated at me across the courtyard like the sun shining on the moon. It was a smile I have never forgotten. Being a distant and relatively unknown relative to him, I had to wonder what I had done to deserve so much warmth.

Despite his persecution, he was a man of full of compassion, wisdom, and love. May we all learn how to smile like he could smile.


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© 2009 Dave Volek.
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