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Ján Eugen Kočiš (1926) - Biography

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"The moral victory was ours..."

Ján Eugen Kočiš was born on the 25th of June 1926 in Pozdišovce, Slovakia. In his fourth year of theological studies at the Greek Catholic Seminary of Prešov, he was caught up in the turmoil of April 1950, when the Greek Catholic Church, with ties to Rome and loyal to the Pope, was forcefully joined to the Orthodox Church and thus to the Moscow Patriarchy. This was clearly a part of state policy, aimed at crippling the Catholic Church. To continue to be a Greek Catholic was thus made illegal. Kočiš left the seminary, and soon after was drafted into the military to serve with the Auxiliary Engineering Corps. On New Year's Day, 1951, while on leave, he was secretly ordained by ThDr. Róbert Pobožný, Bishop of Trnava. Kočiš was determined to serve as a secret priest. After his release from the AEC, Kočiš was given the job of a work hand at a bakery, but in fact he devoted himself to his true calling. Such activity was deemed "thwarting of state supervision over the Churches" in accordance to the law - it was not only Kočiš who was at risk, but also those to whom he serviced the sacraments. From July 1955 to February 1958 he was forced into hiding. Even during this time, he acted upon his priestly duties. On the 7th of February 1958, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Dark Mine (Tmavý důl) in Rtyně v Podkrkonoší, where he mined coal until  amnesty agreements in 1960. After his release and until the Prague Spring, he was employed at a gasoline refinery. In 1969, when the Greek Catholic Church was renewed and again allowed to profess loyalty to the Roman Pope, Kočiš was named master of ceremonies and actuary of the Prešov bishopric. At the same time, he served as pastor of several parishes. After the dissolution of the Republic, an apostolic exarchate was founded in Prague in 1993 and Kočiš was named its chancellor. In 2002, Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Papal Prelate. Two years later, Kočiš was appointed Titular Bishop of Abritt.

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