They’d have locked him up and killed him there
Petr Esterka was born on 14 November 1935 in Dolní Bojanovice near Hodonín. He attended the Episcopal Grammar School in Brno, where he experienced Operation K in April 1950 - the violent destruction of male monastic orders. He managed to complete his secondary education after several attempts, at an eleven-year school in Hodonín in 1956. He worked as a carer at Lignum; he was interrogated by State Security for his opinions and convictions. On Saturday 15 June 1957 he emigrated to Austria. He began studies at Nepomucenum House in Rome, which led to his ordainment into priesthood in 1963. He was sent to minister to his fellow expatriates in Texas, USA. He returned to Rome in 1966 to undertake doctoral studies. He continued to visit the northern part of the USA, Minnesota, where he took up an academic post in 1967. In 1974-1995 he served as a military chaplain in reserve in the US Air Force. In 1978 he began working with Czech Catholics in the USA and Canada. He was reunited with his parents and his sister for the first time in Vienna in 1968. In 1987 he received the title of Monsignor, in July 1999 he was appointed Titular Bishop of Cefala and Auxiliary Bishop of Brno charged with pastoral care for Czech Catholics abroad. He moved to California in 1992. Petr Esterka was witness to numerous events throughout his life - Cardinal Beran’s pastoral trip to the USA, the canonisation of Agnes of Bohemia in Rome, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, Archbishop František Vaňák’s pastoral trip to the USA, the relocation of the statue of Our Lady of Exile (built by Czechoslovaks exiled by the Communist regime - trans.), the Václav and Dagmar Havel’s presidential visit to the USA, etc. In 2013 the witness obtained the Gratias agit Award for his help in spreading the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. In 2013 Petr Esterka was also made a bishop emeritus. He lives in California.