docent PhDr. Ivan Odilo Štampach

* 1946

  • “When I applied to join that tour to Great Britain, people around me probably guessed that I did not intend to go there just as a tourist, and I indeed thought about staying there. Really, during those three weeks that I was to spend there, I wanted to write to Radio Free Europe, for example, and offer them my services. It was probably very naive, because obviously they would not immediately accept anyone they did not know, and there would be various stages to go through and the contact with them would be established gradually and slowly, but at that time I naturally did not realize that. I had already some things prepared with me for that purpose. I thought that I had concealed them well, but I had not. But above all, they already knew that I was up to something, somebody had probably informed them, and they pulled me out of the line at the airport, they searched my luggage and they found the things which were evidence that I intended to remain in the UK. After eleven months of pre-trial detention they sentenced me to four years of imprisonment, which I spend in Iľava in Slovakia.”

  • “There were mostly small groups, but as the 1980s progressed, we were becoming bolder and the groups were getting bigger. Once I happened to meet brother Roger from Taize. He was the founder of the ecumenical monastic community in Taize, and the authorities permitted him to come to Prague, but officially only as a tourist and he was not allowed to make any public speeches. In the churches he visited, he was only allowed to greet quietly those people who learnt that he was there. But there was a meeting organized – I cannot remember the name now – but it does not matter, some people organized a meeting with him. I was only told the address where the meeting would be held, but I knew nothing else. I rang the bell and I said, almost as if I was a conspirator, that I was there for the meeting. There was absolutely no trouble, they simply told me to take off my shoes and invited me inside. It seemed like this was something absolutely normal for them. I entered another room, it was a hall of a villa in the Hřebenky area. Once inside, I realized that there were about sixty people there. So the situation was changing and around 1988, 1989, we sometimes even dared to serve a mass in a church, when there was a reasonable chance that nobody would come there for inspection, because it was a punishable offence at that time. Apart from this activity, that is pastoral service to these various groups and individuals within my reach, I was also involved in some other activities…”

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    U pamětníka doma, 26.06.2010

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I believe that where there is spirit, there is freedom

In Trenčín soon after his return from prison
In Trenčín soon after his return from prison

  Ivan Štampach was born on February 18, 1946 to an American soldier and a Czech girl. The relationship broke soon after, and the boy was sent to an infant care institution. He was soon adopted by the Štampach family, whom he considers his parents. After two years of living in Pilsen, the family moved to Slovakia to a village near Trenčín. Ivan graduated from grammar school and he began studying university: Russian language and music at the pedagogical faculty. As he did not want to live in a totalitarian regime, in 1970 he booked a tour to Great Britain where he hoped to find a new home. However, somebody had probably informed upon him, and he was arrested at the airport and sentenced to four years of imprisonment. He served his sentence in the Iľava prison in Slovakia. After his return from prison, Ivan moved to Prague, where he began working in a computing centre. At the same time he was searching for the meaning and fulfillment of his life. He found it in Christian teaching and he became a member of then secret Dominican order. In 1983 he was secretly ordained a priest in Berlin. Since that time he has been also active as a priest in the underground church movement. After 1989 he was accepted as a teacher at the Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University, but in 1996 he was forced to leave the faculty together with several other modern-thinking teachers. After several years he became a docent at the Faculty of Philosophy in Pardubice, where he lectures at present. He is the author of many works and he still actively publishes.