In the hour of a great test
Karel Exner was born on December 21, 1920 in Studenec near Nová Paka. His father Karel (1880–1970) was a home weaver, his mother Anna, née Blažková (1884–1972), took care of the family farm and four children. After the Jilemnice grammar school, Charles entered the Hradec Králové seminary and on June 3, 1944 he was ordained a priest. A day later, he had a prime divine service (a first mass of a newly ordained priest) in Studenec, which became a silent demonstration of national pride during the Nazi oppression. His first job was a post of a chaplain in Jaroměř, and from 1946 he was an independent clergyman in Horní Štěpanice. On July 25, 1950, he was arrested by the State Security and deported to the Želiv internment monastery. Around a hundred priests worked there under a strict prison regime. A year later, some of the younger priests were moved to the Hájek re-educational monastery near Prague, where they tried to turn them into regime servants. However, it did not work. After two years spent in Hájek, Karel Exner had to go to Auxiliary Technical Batalions in Zvolen at the beginning of 1953, where they worked mainly on construction sites. In May 1954, he was released into civilian life. Because he did not have the state approval, he worked in a factory for a year and then was able to return to the spiritual administration. He first served for half a year in Chřenovice in Posázaví, then for eighteen years in Světlá nad Sázavou, then for six years in Hostinné and finally, in 1982, he settled in Nová Paka. Throughout the November Revolution of 1989, like other priests, he was under pressure from communist bosses. Regional and district church secretaries reported to their superior bodies on the activities of the individual pastors. They controlled how they talked, how they behaved and who they interacted with. In 2020, Karel Exner lived at the parish in Nová Paka and enjoyed an admirable mental condition.