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Anton Srholec (1929 - 2016) - Biography

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The Communists forced me into the hands of the pope

Father Anton Srholec was born on 12 June 1929 in Skalica on the Slovak-Czech borders. Since his childhood he was brought up in the Catholic faith, and so at 14 years of age he joined the Salesians, where he attended grammar school. After 1948 the Salesian Order was abolished in Czechoslovakia and Anton Srholec decided to emigrate via Austria to Italy, where he wanted to continue his studies of theology. However, the crossing of the River Morava, which was organised by Salesian Zeman, failed. Anton Srholec was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison, which he served in the uranium mines in Jáchymov and Příbram. He was amnestied in 1960, but he was only allowed to be employed as a labourer. He moved to Ostrava, finding a job in the steelworks, and began to study English, German and Italian. In 1969 he joined a group of pilgrims journeying to Rome to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of the death St Cyril. While there he got in touch with friends who had been more successful when emigrating from Czechoslovakia. They helped him find the means to finish his theology studies. He spent three months in Italy in the summer of 1969, and another ten months from September 1970 to July 1971. He was ordained into priesthood by Pope Paul VI in May 1971. After returning to Czechoslovakia he worked as a sacristan in Blumentál in Bratislava, after which he was promoted and sent from Bratislava to the village churches in Pernek, Velké Záluží and Záhorská Ves. In Pernek he was assaulted by people who were probably collaborators of State Security. In Záhorská Ves he was under the constant surveillance of the Border Guard. In 1985 he participated in a pilgrimage to Velehrad, where he used a homemade megaphone to preach to pilgrims throughout the night. This resulted in the confiscation of his permission to conduct spiritual services, and until his retirement in 1989 he worked as a warehouse worker. He stood on the stage twice during the Bratislava demonstrations in November 1989. After 1989 he began tending to the homeless of Bratislava, he wrote several books. He died in January 2016.

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