Focus 2005

Czech. Republic - CEP01-10-2005

Project: The Province’s works
Date of foundation: 1939
Place: Praha
Province: Czech. Republic (CEP)

The Czech Republic is a beautiful country in the centre of Europe. It came into being on 1 January 1993 after the old Czechoslovakia separated into two. It is the most secularised nation in Europe (55% of its inhabitants call themselves atheist, 39% Catholic, of whom fewer than 5% are practising).

Salesian activities in the Czech Republic began in 1927. The first Czech Salesian, Fr Ignác Stuchlý (1869-1953), Servant of God, arrived in our country when he was 58 years old, bringing with him his rich experiences in Italy and Jugoslavia. Salesian work here prospered rapidly. In 1950. there were 261 Salesians in 12 Houses.

The second stage of our history was lived under the communist regime. In April 1950 the armed forces surrounded all the Houses of the male religious congregations throughout the territory of the Czechoslovakian Republic: Religious were interned in various concentration camps and a huge number of prominent persons were imprisoned - amongst them the second most important man in the nation, Štepán Trochta (1905-1974), Bishop of Litomerice, later on made cardinal, and who had already suffered imprisonment from the Nazis. Activities by religious congregations were declared illegal. The Salesians released from prison could not officially give themselves to their mission. Many of them were unable to caarry out any pastoral activities. For this reason other kinds of activity were carried out in private apartments, in mountain or country homes where the formation of new Salesians took place, along with philosophical and theological studies, and summer camps for groups of young people. Some Salesians were secretly ordained deacons and priests.

The “velvet revolution” and the change of political regime in 1989 presented the Salesians with new possibilities and new tasks. Little by little they were given back confiscated Houses, and a busy time of reconstruction began. Religious left their ‘illegal’ status, and little by little left the diocesan parishes and returned to living in their communities. A time for discernment began, to plan Salesian activities to meet the growing needs of society.

New Salesian Houses with oratories and youth centres were founded, especially in the larger cities (Prague-Kobylisy, Brno-Žabovresky, Brno-Líšen, Ostrava, Plzen, Pardubice, Ceské Budejovice, Teplice, Rumburk, Prostejov, Zlín). In some youth centres they worked particularly with gypsies, while others worked with young people in difficulties.

Today nevertheless, many Salesians remain working as as priests working in a parish pastoral setting, a number of them outside of their respective communities.
The Salesian Province set up the Portál publishing house, much appreciated for its publications on education and psychology (around 100 new titles per year!), and JABOK, a sort of social education and theological university in Prague for the education of social workers working especially with handicapped and disadvantaged youth or those on the margins of society. The Salesians contributed to the setting up and support of the Faculty of Theology in Ceské Budejovice. In its original location in Fryšták (today called the Ignác Stuchlý House) a project has been put in place offering young people formatiion days both for groups or for individuals with difficulties of one kind or another.

We also think that Salesian activities in mass media are important (Television CT Brno, Don Bosco Media Centrum, Telepace in Ostrava). And now the Province has taken responsibility for offering help in Bulgaria linking us a<gain with a tradition of Czech Salesian missionaries (for example Fr John Med in India).

Address: Salesiani Dona Boska
Kobyliske nam, 1
18200 Praha 8
Tel: +420 283029111
Fax: +420 283029113
Web site: