Pater Antonín Pavel Kejdana

* 1932  †︎ 2020

  • “So I admire for example Otčenášek, Mandel, Zvěřina, and our Aleš, who has been repeatedly - about three or four times - in jail. And that they returned ... and once Ales just visited us at the dry cleaners during the night shift. He just came from jail. He said, 'Brothers, I met rare people there, learned many poems. He was the man who was floating over the reality of the jail that wasn't mentally affected. He lived spiritual life there as well.”

  • “In Pankrac, we were in cells, where there were two prisoners during the period of Austro-Hungarian Empire. But there were eight of us. It was crammed, right. We slept on the ground on mattresses and just took up the whole area. And the eighth had to have his legs bent over the toilet, or he had a toilet between his legs. And there was an interesting company. There was at least one butcher and one priest per cell. But mostly there were two butchers and three pastors. Because there was a hunt for butchers and a priest. Why the butchers? Because there was little meat, and they blamed the butchers. Not for production and agriculture lagging and poor organization, but apparently the butchers were stealing.”

  • “It wasn't a good example for us students that - I don't know if it was in the 1948, probably the 1949 or in 1950, that we started meeting them in the corridors and had Communist badges on their lapels. They had to wear them. They joined the party under the condition was that they would confess publicly. Well, we laughed a little, because we knew that they were mostly the fans of Masaryk. And yet on the facade of the grammar school... when it was founded Alois Jirásek wrote such a statement, on each side of the building there was one inscribed in the facade: 'Oh school on the border of the earth, nurture the feelings and plant the root of decisive characters.' But mostly they had families, they had children. For example, the headmaster of the grammar school had a boy, very gifted, and wanted him to go to college. He got there, but at the cost that his father had to join the party. The boy had to be the only one in the class, but in addition to about two such communist pupils, also in the Union of Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship. So, they weren't brave in nature, but could be apologizes by the fact they´d go into manufacture, and they didn't like that either. And then the children had bad cadre reports. And in our class, half of them were not recommended for undergraduate studies because of their poor relationship to the folk democratic system.”

  • “I remember standing above of our deceased brother - I was about five years old and my sister was already going to school - but we didn't know what death was. We were surprised that he was not moving and that had blue nails. And that when we went to the graveyard in the parade, my dad carried that little coffin, so our parents had to admonish us that we were chasing each other in the parade. It was such an experience that we didn't really understand what death was. And parents´ pain.”

  • “I often think of these Jews, because my mother, when she was single, served or cooked for five years as well as an au-pair to the children of a family named Lederer - a Jewish name. And my mother thought it those were the most beautiful years of her life. Indeed, even me as the firstborn or secondborn, but who remained alive, I had to be called Paul. This was not a custom in our country. Because the Jewish boy's name was Paul. And my grandfather was against it. He said, 'He was given such a Jewish name.' But my mother liked to remember it. But I know that when I was there as a boy with her visiting her former masters, they spoke German to each other, but otherwise spoke perfectly Czech. And their two sons, Henry and Paul, went to the same high school as I was after the war. Henry was in such a practice, one could say, back in India when the war broke out, because Mr. Oberländer had a plant there or set up a textile plant in India. So the arrival of the Germans, the beginning of the Protectorate... here remained the family - or husbands, I think Marta and Otto, Lederers and Paul. And everyone died then in the concentration camp.”

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    Liberec, 19.09.2019

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The basis is prayer - and that should be the source of external activity

Antonín Pavel Kejdana at the graduation photo in 1951
Antonín Pavel Kejdana at the graduation photo in 1951
photo: archiv pamětníka

Antonín Pavel Kejdana was born on 3 January 1932 in the village of Nízký Dřevíč (today Velký Dřevíč) near Hronov. He was not recommended for university studies after his graduation from grammar school in 1951 because of his origin from a peasant-business family and a positive relation to religion. Moreover, because he wanted to devote himself to Catholic theology, whose study was only allowed by the faculty of Litoměřice, operating under the supervision of communist power, he decided to realise work in production. In 1958 he joined the “underground” religious community in Roztoky near Prague, where he began to educate himself in theology. In 1961 he was arrested. He went through the prisons in Hradec Králové, Pankrác, Ruzyně and Valdice, spent a total of nine months behind bars. After his release he continued to study and prepare for spiritual activities. In 1968 he was secretly ordained a priest and a year later he began to work in spiritual administration. He went through several parishes around Liberec, for 16 years he served in Hrádek nad Nisou and nearby Chrastava. Since 1989 he has been living and serving in Liberec in the Franciscan community. Antonín Pavel Kejdana died on 9 December 2020.