“I was banned from preaching in the crematorium. The officials in charge of my ministry were from Jablonec, and those state officials for church affairs were friendly to me. However, the crematorium was located in Semily, which is in another district, and I was thus not under the authority of the local official there. An old lady who was the master of ceremony in the Semily crematorium retired, and the wife or some relative of the state official from Semily began serving in the crematorium in Semily instead. One day she criticized me that I was not to speak as the last speaker during the ceremony, as I had always done and as I wished to do. One day – I had already agreed upon it with the firemen and all the other speakers that I would let them speak first so that they would not be that nervous – the new master of ceremony then came to me and told me that I would not speak as the last one. I told her that it had already been agreed upon, and the funeral service was conducted in the order I had planned. But as a result they forbade me to serve there as a speaker. I had to respect this. What I did was that from then on I would attend the funeral ceremonies in civilian clothing, and the present-day patriarch Tomáš Butta from Semily would lead the service instead of me. When this went on for about half a year, I got quite angry and I told them that if they had not repealed the ban, I would stand up after the ceremony and thank all the attendees and tell them that I was not allowed to serve there. I remember that Bohouš Klásek, who was a diocese secretary, also got involved in it. He told them that they have attained nothing by it. But anyway, the ban was in place for more than half a year.”
“I was on good terms with people from the evangelic church. One day an old lady from Haratice came to me after a funeral service. It was the cremation of her daughter, and she came to my office, and the pastor from the evangelic church was present there as well, and the lady told me: ‘What I always like when you speak during funeral services is that you do not talk about the life of the deceased. The Word of God, which you quote and expound there, is better, and I wish to hear it.’ It was amazing. When she left, the evangelic pastor told me: ‘Well, I would like to have parishioners like that, too.’ It made me happy, because people from the evangelic church sometimes looked down on us.”
“When I returned, the StB agent contacted me again and he again wanted to see me. I told him: ‘I am not able to forbid you to do it, but my attitude towards you has not changed and I certainly do not intend to change it either.’ He wanted some information from me. The StB knew that sometimes I opposed the church’s leadership. They learnt about it, it was not so difficult to find out. They wanted to use this and they wanted me to supply them with information about the patriarch and the bishop. I told them no. I told them that he would not have come anyway. I kept telling him that I was not able to forbid him to contact me, but that I would not change my attitude. He yelled at me on the phone: ‘What a stubborn woman you are! There are probably not many as stubborn as you!’ Well, he didn’t show up anymore after this.”
“I remember the first state official for church affairs. She was an ordinary woman, and I have no idea why she had gotten the position. She trusted me and one day she confessed to me quite honestly: ‘You know, I am not educated, and I am not so good in spelling as you are. When I am not sure whether to write y or i, I write the word on a piece of paper and then I decide according to which seems better to me.’ So that was one type of a person. Then there was the state official Mr. Kozderka, and he treated me well because of the children that I had in my care. And the last state official that served in that position during my career was a very honest woman as well, and she even wrote me a farewell later when she was leaving the job. I cannot complain; the officials in Jablonec treated me really well. Well, and as for the official from Semily, I actually didn’t give a damn about him.”
“When I have already been in Olešnice for several years, I thought that although I did not know how the children from orphanages were, I would invite one of them for summer vacation and we would see. I went for it, expecting that the child would either wish to stay and adapt, or not adapt at all. And so I arranged it – it was quite easy to get a child into your care if it was only for summer holiday. I went to pick up Mirek right the first day when the school classes were over, and the Mikulecký children arrived a day later. Two weeks have passed and Mirek knew that the whole summer vacation was ahead of him. He found a moment when I was outside alone – I will never forget it, I can still see the place – and he came to me and told me: ‘Auntie, I don’t want to go back to the children’s home anymore, please, keep me. I will obey you and I will not make any trouble at all.’ Well, it was decided. I picked up the phone to tell them that Mirek wished to stay and that I was willing to take care of him permanently.”
We are here in order to live for others, but it is not our merit at all
The life of Zdenka Schubertová began - as she likes to remind smilingly - in the village Peklo-Lipí (literally meaning ‘Hell‘ - transl.‘s note) in the Náchod district. Since her early childhood she has been growing up in the spiritual environment of the Czechoslovak (Hussite) Church (CČS(H)). In 1949 she began teaching the Hussite religion classes in Hronov, where one of her pupils was Libor Špáta - the brother of Jan Špáta, who later became the well-known author of documentary films. She eventually decided to study theology at the university, and she graduated from the Hussite Theological Faculty in Prague. She spent nearly all her life as a pastor in Zlatá Olešnice. The year 1964 marked a turning point in her life when she brought the first child from an orphanage to her parsonage in Olešnice. She lived for other people and she found it hard to bear that many children were growing up without their own home. Zdenka thus gradually received seven other children and she was helping to guide them through the obstacles in their lives. During her career as a pastor she had no ambitions to influence the affairs in the top levels of the church leadership. Nevertheless, whenever she felt that important matters were at stake, she did not fail to openly address the failures within her own church. The State Security Police unsuccessfully tried to make use of her opposition views for obtaining information on the leading church officials, but pastor Zdenka with her typical honesty made an StB official so angry that he never contacted her again. Her long-time friendship with pastor Václav Mikulecký led Zdenka Schubertová into an informal community which was active within the Czechoslovak Hussite Church since the mid-1960s and whose members pursued living out their faith in the real life. The supporters of this movement were trying to disrupt the stagnant environment in the church and to live their lives based on the Word of God, prayer, humility and introspection. The Word of God offers abundant guidance and advice for the lives of Christians. In her entire life, Zdenka Schubertová has always abided by these two key verses from the Bible: „He must increase, but I must decrease“ (John 3:30). „Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all“ (Mark 9:35). Pastor Zdenka Schubertová passed away to the eternal life on December 14, 2009, exactly four months after our interview.