Antonín Klaret Dabrowski

* 1955

  • "State Security men also came to me when I used to drive the ambulance. They had me called to the personnel department, and there one of the State Security men kept pushing me and asking for my cooperation. Moreover, it happened that one of my cousins had been flying on gliders and he fled to [West] Germany and stayed in Germany. And they started speaking about that cousin. That they knew I had a cousin in Germany and if I was in touch with him. I said, "No, we even weren´t in contact before when he was here. And since he left, we haven´t been in touch at all.' But [they said] I could help them get him back. That they wouldn't do anything to him, but that it was unreasonable that he had gone there and [they want him] to come back. And they wanted me to sign the cooperation about it. 'You don't have to do it right away, come back next time, we'll arrange it at the Elektra café.' Well, at that time, Dr. Drgáč was working at our hospital, and he - I knew he had suspended sentence because he had brought a priest to the infirmary to see an ill soldier. The policeman said to me, the one from State Security, 'Don't tell anybody that we met here.' And I told the doctor, of course. And he said, 'Don't go anywhere to any meetings!' I felt silly about it, I was used to the idea that if I made a promise to somebody, I'd always keep it. 'Don´t care about him, he does it during his working hours, he'll write it down as a completed task, and you'll go there in your leisure time and suddenly you´ll complicate your life.' So I didn't go, and then he [State Security man] called me about two days later and asked, 'You talked to anyone about this, didn´t you?' And I said, 'Yes, but I don't want to talk to you anymore.' And that was the end of it. And that's probably why I didn't get on any of those lists of collaborators. Because they did it so cleverly that it didn't seem like it was against anybody at all, but that they just wanted me to help bring the cousin back."

  • "And they arrested a lot of brothers all over the country. Our whole definitorium was in prison at that time. And Father Michael Pabel, a Franciscan, used to come to see me from East Germany. He then left the Franciscans, later on, when they reunited, West and East Germany, but he was with us at that time. And he said that he had a good friend, the German ambassador, West German, that his wife was a tertiary, so that we should let him know somehow what was going on. Well, and he arranged for me to meet him, at St. Vitus Cathedral. So I went there, and we were walking around the cathedral, and we arranged that he would try to do everything he could to get the brothers out of priso. And if any of them got out, I was supposed to send him [the ambassador] a postcard. If they released one of them out of prison, I'd write a postcard from a one-day trip, if two, from a two-day trip, and so on. Well, then they released everybody out at once, all at once. So I called the embassy. A man answered the phone and I said I needed to speak to Mr..., I don´t recall his name any more, the ambassador. And he said, ' Mit dem Botschafter?' I said, 'Yes, yes, well.' So he got him for me and I said, 'I went on a trip for many many days.' And he said, 'I see, I know already.' So that was the end of it. And the brothers got out and then just kind of house searches happened, but it wasn't so bad."

  • "I wrote an appeal to the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Culture wrote me that I was not eligible. So I went to Prague, I wanted to go there personally to meet them, and they told me at that time that I had not finished military service or had not been a member of the Socialist Youth Union (SSM). So I said, 'Well, I would like to study theology, so obviously I'm not going to be in the Youth Union.' 'Well, that's your problem.' So I went to see Cardinal Tomášek. And Cardinal Tomášek received me very kindly. He immediately turned on the radio, so that we wouldn't be overheard, and he told me that he probably couldn't do much about it, but that I should still write an appeal to the President's Office. So I did as he said. He gave me a pile of books, rosaries from the Christian Academy that he had just got from Rome. I like recalling that visit, too, it was so warm and kind. Well, I wrote to the President's Office and they wrote back that according to their competence, or what is called, they sent my complaint to the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Culture replied that they had already replied to me. So it was left without solution. And the cousin in Poland, when we went there, advised me: 'Well, you can be with the Franciscans,' and I said: 'Well, but I would not like to study only with the Franciscans, even though I planned that if I graduated, I would then join the Franciscans. ' And he said, 'Well, you can join them now, but you don't have to, you can just study there.' 'Well, I'd rather join them straight away.' So then I went to Liberec. In Liberec Father Bárta said to me, 'Yes, you can join us.' I knew about him that he had been in prison for 16 years, so I thought, 'That's good, at least I know he's not doing it for a career or for fame. And so he'll probably be reliable."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Uherské Hradiště, 07.02.2022

    duration: 02:20:17
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Uherské Hradiště, 29.06.2022

    duration: 01:11:22
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Let us seek what is eternal

Antonín K. Dabrowski at pilgrimage in Lvov, 1989
Antonín K. Dabrowski at pilgrimage in Lvov, 1989
photo: Archive of Friars Minor - Franciscans

Antonín Klaret Dabrowski was born in Ostrava on 13 June 1955 to parents Anna and Ferdinand Dabrowski. From the beginning, his life was shaped by the friendships the family maintained with priests and nuns. After graduating from grammar school, he sent an application to study theology. This remained unanswered and after having appealed, he received a recommendation to take the military service first. When he was not allowed to study even after the military service, he approached the Franciscans, who were organising studies illegally. In 1978 he entered the Franciscan Order, where he began his studies under the religious name Klaret. As a member of the illegal community, he experienced house searches, confiscation of belongings and similar activities initiated by State Security. His intercession with the West German ambassador in 1983 helped to secure the release of his fellow brothers arrested by State Security within the Vír Action. He received his priestly ordination in secret, in 1986, from the hands of Bishop Peter Dubovský. The turning point in his life was his participation in the canonization of St. Agnes of Bohemia (Anežka Přemyslovna) in 1989. After arriving from Rome, he was able to wear Franciscan habit for the first time in public. Since 1990, he has worked in the communities of Liberec, at Our Lady of the Snows in Prague, Moravská Třebová and Uherské Hradiště, where he currently serves as hospital chaplain (2022).