A SHORT HISTORICAL REVIEW
From the beginning till nowadays
We can speak about the history, the life and the formation of the Mukachevo Diocese authentically if we also mention the events which preceded its foundation. Its history can be divided into four large periods:
1. The times preceding the formation of the Satmar Episcopate
2. The time of the Satmar Episcopate
3. The period following World War I
4. The events which happened during the existence of the Soviet Union and after its fall till nowadays
The times preceding the formation of the Satmar Episcopate
As far as we know the Hungarians (and the people who joined them), who came to the Carpathian basin, got in touch with different religions. But still they had preserved their turk cult of God, the fostering of which was first of all the responsibility of the sacred prince kende.
The Hungarian grand dukes were ready to adopt christianity in the 950-960-s. But the question of their joining the eastern or the western christianity was finally solved by the state of political affairs.
The real organizer of the Hungarian church Anastaz-Astrik first was the archbishop of Kalocha, later of Estergom. He also organized the Hungarian catholic church locally on behalf of the pope and king St. Ishtvan. Each of the seven organized dioceses embraced vast territories. So did the episcopate of Transylvania, set up in 1009, to which the carpathian territory belonged till the beginning of the 14-th century.
There are little data (prooved by written sources) about the life of christianity in the 11-th century. It is known that among the churches of Romanesque style in Transcarpathia the Uzhhorod-Gereny rotunda is of great importance. It is one of our most intact (unhurt) rotundas. There were more functioning parishes as well, for instance in Bobove, Dejda, Kigyosh, Janoshi, Velyka Bejhany, Syurte, Chornotysiv, Vinohradovo and Ardiv.
Beginning from 1346 Transcarpathia became the part of Eger Diocese. Since that time churches were built in many places, not only in towns or cities. According to the memorandum which remained at the Vatican archives there are more than 50 churches in our area.
The times of the Satmar Episcopate
The independent Satmar Catholic Episcopate was founded on 23rd March, 1804. On 9th August in the same year pope Pius VII. has legalized it. Besides Satmar county the new Episcopate included Maramarosh, Ugocha and Ung counties as well. The spiritual development of the diocese was determined not only by the history, but also by the things which the bishops believed to be important and which made the believers happy. By the end of the World War I the diocese was directed by the following bishops:
1. Ishtvan Fischer (1804-1807) paid particular attention to the organization of education. He set up an episcopal liceum, catholic high school and a theological college.
2. Peter Klobusiczky (1807-1821) dean-vicar of Ung divided the diocese into dean districts. He also encouraged the studying process in the country by establishing dormitories of high schools. Because of the great famine on this territory after the Napoleon wars his first task was the organization of the so-called “charitable centres and institutions”.
3. Floriant Kovach’s (1821-1825) poor health prevented him from the active apostolic work.
4. Janosh Ham (1827-1857) has governed the episcopate for 30 years. We can justly confirm that he has framed its aspect. His apostolic work and guiding played an important role in the life of the whole territory.
5. In the times of Mihaly Haash (1858-1866) the jesuit monks came back to their old monastic quarters. He also paid great attention to education. He published newspapers, books, started pedagogical courses. He set up orphanages and houses intended for taking care of sick people.
6. Laslo Biro (1866-1872) was the colleague of Janosh Ham, that’s why it’s clear that he also paid attention to the poor, elderly people, as well as to the studying youth.
7. Dr. Lerinc Schlauch (1873-1877) has set up clerical libraries at each parish. He installed and controlled school teaching in every Transcarpathian village.
8. Gyula Meslenyi (1877-1905) worked on the development of the world institutions. His cultural activity is also considerable. The change of the political boundaries in the times of Dr. Tibor Boromissa (1906-1928) caused some difficulties in the governing of the diocese. His social and charitable activities were the most considerable.
The period following World War I
The period under the ruling of Dr. Tibor Boromissa bishop till World War I was rich in the establishment of new institutions and in steps towards the upturn of religious life. This was the period of the Hungarian Soviet Republic and the Trianon dictate of peace following it together with the dismemberment of the diocese. In this new situation the bishop tried to improve the relations between the diocese and the Romanian state. His legal authority had spread to the parish churches lying on the territory of Czechoslovakia. In such a way he set up the Apostolic Governorship of Uzhhorod. It is interesting that in spite of the frontier he ruled both the Hungarian and the Transcarpathian territories almost smoothly. During the period of his ruling the Canon Law Codex of 1917 came into force. He collated the partial diocesan creation of law with the new codification of canon law, and modified it according to the new codex. Dr. Janosh Scheffler, the public prosecutor of Vatican and teacher of canon law helped him a lot in this work. In 1926 bishop Boromissa also compiled the Fundamental Rule of the Satmar Diocese. After long sufferings he died on 9-th July, 1928, and chose Ishtvan Sabo as chapter vicar.
Meanwhile on 7-th July, 1929 Vatican signed the concord with Romania, which contained a lot of derogatory parts with respect to the Hungarian catholic church of Transylvania. Beginning with this day the legal authority of the Satmar vicar over the hungarian part of the diocese which he ruled from 1-st October, 1923 with the help of the foreign vicar came to an end. At the same time the Satmar diocese lost its authority over the Carpathian part which belonged to Czechoslovakia and was ruled by the foreign vicar Dr. Abrish Tahy since 8 March, 1923. Irrespective of the frontier’s settlement the Church carried the Satmar legal practice on. In 1930 an apostolic regency with the centre in Uzhhorod was established from the Carpathian part under Ferenc Svoboda’s direction.
According to the first Viennese decision (2nd November, 1938) beginning from autumn, 1938 there began a rapid organization of the ecclesiastical administration of the highland territories which went back to Hungary. Vatican united the parishes of the Satmar Diocese which got back from Transcarpathia to Hungary with the Merk Apostolic Governorship lying on the Hungarian territory. According to the bull published on 19-th July, 1939 it was placed under the legal authority of Ishtvan Madaras, bishop of Koshice. But very soon some further changes of the border took place. According to the second Viennese decision (30 August, 1940) most part of Partium and North-Transylvania went back to the motherland. On 23-rd July, 1940 (before the second Viennese decision) Vatican appointed P. Napholcz Pal SJ monk to be the bishop of satmar-nagyvarad region. The appointed bishop in this new situation offered his resignation to Vatican, which was accepted. The governing of the dioceses was entrusted to Aron Marton.
On 17-th May, 1942 Dr. Janosh Scheffler took over the ruling of the Satmar Diocese together with Transcarpathia as a bishop and the Nagyvarad Diocese – as an apostolic governor. As a result of the second viennese decision the two ecclesiastical territories integrated into the Hungarian church organization. Transcarpathia joined the Satmar Episcopate again. The bishop considered his main task to adjust the partial law formation of his diocese to the local law formation of the Hungarian church. He became both the bishop and the consoler for his believers. He carried out his diocesan visits on the detached territories by himself.
At the time of the war which swept through the territory of the whole governorship the bishop felt it his duty to strengthen his priests and believers by his personal presence as well. He visited Transcarpathia several times, but before the end of the war he visited the territory which was under his authority for the last time. According to the direction from Rome he marked his “tasks” everywhere. In such a way, in Transcarpathia he appointed the next general vicar, in case there would be some difficulties in the relations with the bishop or the vicar would be arrested.
The events which happened during the existence of the Soviet Union and after its fall till nowadays
After the collapse in 1944 bishop Scheffler named Ferenc Pastor, the principal dean of Berehovo as the episcopal vicar of Transcapathia, since the church governing of Transcarpathia from the episcopal seat became practically impossible. He named another two vicars as well, who would rule the diocese in case of possible hindrance. As it is known from the older priests, one of them was Dr. Bujalo Bernat, the other – Jeno Segedi. According to the peace-treaty signed on 10-th February, 1947 the Satmar diocese was divided into four parts. There remained 13 parishes in Czechoslovakia, 27 – in Hungary, 40 – in Transcarpathia and 55 – in Romania.
The soviet terror hadn’t avoided the roman catholic church as well; its priests were usually convicted of treason and incitement to disaffection. It was extremely difficult to rule the church in such a dangerous situation. At the times when people’s faith and strength were tested every priest was carrying out his duties in the spirit of Jesus Christ’s teaching. Although the registration of births, marriages and deaths was officially forbidden, our priests still did it in secret. Only the rituals of mass and funerals were allowed, but it was forbidden to admit seminarists. A lot of books were published on this difficult period in Hungary and Transcarpathia as well.
At the times when the terror had eased and more priests came back from the concentration camps, the State Church Office tried to take over the tasks of the church. They managed to make approaches to one or two priests, who tried to rule the Transcarpathian church with the help of the power given to them by the state authorities. In 1956 the state organs arbitrarily named Janosh Mesarosh and later dr. Zavodnyik Tibor parish priests of Uzhhorod as vicars. In 1956 the priests who were carried off came back from camps. The principal dean Bernat Bujalo returned home as well. He took over the governing, but soon he resigned because of his state of health. The assigned successor Jeno Segedi, the parish priest of Palanok, didn’t get any state assent and wasn’t allowed to rule. But in secret his word was decisive in the roman catholic church till his death at the age of 86.
After Dr. Zavodnyik Tibor’s death in 1985, Joseph Galambosh, the parish priest of Hust, was chosen as a vicar by the priests. He died in December the same year. Joseph Chati became the next vicar of Transcarpathia. At the times of communism the State Office of Church affairs regulated and controlled all the activities of the church. It wasn’t allowed to appoint any priest to another place without the state’s approval. The vicars couldn’t publish a decree general and valid for every church because of the political oppression. The religious education of the children was punished most heavily. Despite his old age vicar Joseph Chati tried to unite the priests who lived here. He took every opportunity to organize meetings of priests. He reported his directions mainly orally. In these directions he spoke about the importance of prayer, religion teaching and apostolic activity. In spring 1989 when the cardinal of Estergom Dr. Laslo Pashkai visited Transcarpathia there began a decisive positive change in the life of the Transcarpathian roman catholic church. After this visit the leaders of Soviet Union allowed the service of Hungarian priests on this territory. On 1st November, 1990 there arrived monks from Czechoslovakia as well.
On 28th March, 1992 the Holy See named archbishop Antonio Franco, the apostolic nuncio of Ukraine, as the vicar of the Transcarpathian roman catholic church. He arrived in Transcarpathia, Mukachevo on 13th August the same year and strengthened Father Chati in his position as a general vicar.
In March, 1993 after Joseph Chati’s death, archbishop Antonio Franco, having heard the opinion of the guest priests working here, named the parish priest of Solotvino Lajosh Hudra as his general vicar. He also appointed clerical councils and respectively vicars according to the language area. 26 June, 1993 was a joyful data, because on this day again after 46 years of pause a home priest Shandor Pap was ordained in Transcarpathia.
On 14 th August, 1993 according to the decision of the Holy See the Transcarpathian Apostolic Governorship was established. Archbishop Antonio Franco, the apostolic nuncio of Ukraine, became the first apostolic governor. On 16th December the papal bull about the formation of the Transcarpathian Apostolic Governorship was announced in the roman catholic church of Mukachevo. It was difficult for the nuncio to rule the new church because of the distance. At Christmas and Easter he always met his local priests in Transcarpathia, otherwise he conducted the matters of the church with the help of the general and episcopal vicar Lajosh Hudra.
On 9th December, 1995 pope John Pal II named the head of the Franciscan Mission in Vinohradovo Antal Majnek as the assistant bishop of the Transcarpathian Apostolic Governorship. He became the general vicar after Father Lajosh Hudra’s death on 17th December, 1995. The ceremony of confering a mitre upon Antal Majnek took place in Rome on 6th January, 1996. It was carried out by pope John Pal II. The nuncio gave the new general vicar a free hand to rule the church except of ordaining and placing priests. On 7th October, 1997, half a year later the Pope named Antal Majnek as the bishop of the Transcarpathian Apostolic Governorship.
The diocesan life was making great strides further. Since 1998 priests are continuously ordained in the church of Mukachevo every year. The great 2000 anniversary year was celebrated by the Transcarpathian diocese with great solemnity. The principal celebration took place on the day of bishop St. Martin, the patron saint of the Apostolic Governorship. On this significant occasion archbishop Nicola Eterovic’, the apostolic nuncio of Ukraine, Marian Jaworski metropolitan archbishop of Lviv, Pal Reizer roman catholic diocesan bishop of Satmar and Janosh Semedi greek catholic diocesan bishop of Mukachevo were present. The central celebration of the Hungarian millenium took place on 20th August, on king St. Stephen’s day in Solotvino. Here the bishop blessed a group of statues consisting of the statues of Hungarian saints.
Since then more churches were consecrated by bishop Antal Majnek, among others in Klyucharky, Zabrigy, Chetfalva, Velike Muzhijevo, Uzhhorod-Bozdosh and Uzhhorod-Radvanka.
The latest great occasion of the Transcarpathian diocese took place in Vatican on 27th March, 2002 on Holy Wednesday, when pope John Pal II gave the Transcarpathian Roman Catholic Apostolic Governorship the diocesan status. In such a way he established the Mukachevo Diocese for the roman catholic believers. He named Antal Majnek as its first diocesan bishop. On 27th 2002 the Mukachevo Diocese was announced with solemnity. On this day the installation of Antal Majnek, the first diocesan bishop of the new diocese, in his office took place as well. It was carried out by the cardinal archbishop of Lviv Marian Jaworski, the apostolic nuncio of Ukraine Nicola Eterović, the Ukrainian episcopal department in the presence of the diocesan priests and believers of Mukachevo.
The list of names of the priests who were carried off between 1945 – 1956
Dezho Arvay parish priest of Vilok (Tisaujlak), he came back to Vilok, died in 1967.
Dr. Bernat Bujalo principal dean of Uzhhorod, vicar. He came home being disabled, died in 1979 in Rativci (Kishrat).
Zoltan Bako parish priest of Selmenci (Kishselmenc), came home being disabled, died in 1959 in Mukachevo.
Kalman Bartfay principal dean of Vinohradovo (Nagysolosh). Having returned home he lived as a pensioner. He died in 1961 in Uzhhorod.
Joseph Chati assistant priest of Mukachevo. His death sentence wasn’t carried out. Having returned home he wasn’t allowed for several years to go back to Mukachevo. Later he became the parish priest in Mukachevo, then vicar since 1986 till his death in 1993.
Joseph Galambosh parish priest of Bene. Having returned home he became the parish priest in Hust, in 1985 he was chosen to be the vicar, but soon he died in the same year.
Shandor Haklik dean of Rativci (Kishrat), he was taken away half paralysed, on the way he died. He is burried in an unknown place.
Antal Heveli parish priest of Solotvino. When he came home he first served in Solotvino, later he was the parish priest of Svalyava till his death in 1999.
Peter Homolya parish priest of Domanynci (Felshodomonya), died in 1981 as the principal dean of Berehovo.
Agoshton Horvath parish priest of Dovhe. Having returned home he served in many places. He died in December, 1990 as the parish priest of Uzhhorod.
Lajosh Hudra assistant priest of Berehovo. He returned home; he was the parish priest in Hust, Solotvino, died as a vicar in 1995 in Mukachevo.
Ishtvan Lorincz dean of Storozhnica was arrested in 1945. Having returned home he died in 1979 in Holmok (Kincheshhomok).
Ferenc Pastor principal dean of Berehovo, vicar, died somewhere in Siberia.
Pal Plackinger assistant priest of Uzhhorod. He was in prison in Siberia. When he returned back he was the parish priest in Tyachiv, Vyshkovo, Ustychorna, then he had to emigrate to Germany. Since 1995 he was the tenant of the home for priests in Satmarnemet till his death on 8th October, 2002.
Janosh Sheresh dean of Mukachevo. He returned home, died in 1958 in Mukachevo.
Ishtvan Tempfli parish priest of Nevetlenfalu. Having returned home he became the parish priest of Ratovci, where he died in 1988.
Erno Tindira parish priest of Barbovo, was arrested in 1945. He was expelled from Transcarpathia for a while after the amnesty in 1956. He could come back only before his death. He died in 1972.
Dr. Joseph Toth parish priest of Serednye. He was arrested in 1945. After his release he was expelled from Transcarpathia for years. He died in Serednye in 1968.
Gyorgy Tokesh dean of Hust. He returned home, died in 1973 in Hust.