Michal Roško

* 1928  

  • “I have such an experience from times when I was a sophomore studying at the Pedagogical Academy. I lived with Salesians and used to go to our monastery. Once, when I was returning from a worship service, I heard a voice on the sidewalk: ‘You shall become a priest.’ It wasn’t hallucination. I said that to my friend and he told me: ‘Do you have a piece of paper?’ ‘No, I don’t.’ And he wrote on a card envelope: ‘May Lord God bless your decision to be ordained.’ I carried this for three years with me. Yet after those years Fr. Mastiliak, who was my professor and my confessor, told me: ‘Now you can burn this note, as you are accepted to the monastery. But never forget your grandma!’ Because my grandma admitted she had been praying for me to become a priest.”

  • “I also have an experience of writing to the Office of the President and asking for greater religious freedom. Since my friend was a singer in Prague – his father was a former teacher – he came to Košice and told me: ‘Did you write to the Office of the President?’I said I did. ‘You may have some problems because of that, because your letter is at the Ministry of Culture already,’ he told me. Two months later people from Prague came and called me to the Regional National Committee with my director and reproached me for writing that letter. I told them: ‘All right, I didn’t write it anonymously. I just wrote in a sense what our Constitution ensures – the religious freedom. Not only to Roman Catholics, but also to Greek Catholics. I felt such strength back then; the Holy Spirit inspired me that I had no fear at all. That man from Prague, from the Ministry said: ‘Well, you almost convinced us! Don’t write to the Office of the President anymore and you may continue working at the State Scientific Library as a warehouseman.’ He said that so as they wanted to fire me from the library.”

  • “That monastery in Králíky was kind of an internment camp, where the Jesuits, Salesians, Franciscans were gathered together. The young ones or some others were either left there or divided to other places in 1950. We stayed in Králíky approximately half a year.” “What did you do as a PTP worker?” “Well, for example, I worked at the farm. Once a horse felt sick, so I unhitched him, sat on him and tried to make him move. Those guards started catching me as they thought I was running away from the camp. I told them: ‘No, don’t worry, the horse is sick, so I am trying to help him!’ Or in times when I planted snails, the guard took his gun and went with me. I had a bucket, such a cloak, an umbrella and I went to pick snails near the brook. We used to come back at lunch. Before that I even worked in a laundry room. We washed clothes and so.”

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    Michalovce, 08.12.2016

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    duration: 34:02
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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Portrait from the past
Portrait from the past
photo: osobný archív Michala Roška

Michal Roško was born on November 22, 1928 in the village of Záhor. When he finished the elementary school, he continued studying at middle school in Sobrance and later in Uzhhorod. After the war he enrolled at the State Pedagogical Academy in Michalovce and during his study he lived with Salesians. Later he joined the Faculty of Theology at the monastery in Obořiště near Dobříš. However, as the year 1950 came, all the monasteries were liquidated and people from this monastery were taken to the camp in Králíky. Michal worked here in agriculture, picked snails and labored on the field. Subsequently he had to enlist in the Auxiliary Technical Battalions, where he served 3 years and 3 months. At first he was in Komárno, then in Podbořany and in Sliač. Moreover, in the beginning of 1960s, Michal happened to end up in prison for several months because of his secret study to become a priest. He had to wait long 18 years to be ordained a priest. In the meantime he worked like electrician, maintenance man, volleyball coach as well as director of an amateur theatre. He was also employed in ironworks or in the State Scientific Library as a warehouseman. He has a great merit on building or restoring the churches in Snina, Dedačov and Humenné, which could have been finished despite the former socialist, i.e. anti-religious ruling era.