The Fish Arrived, I Didn’t
Jozef Hrdý belongs to the first Salesians, who, shortly after the communist takeover, realized that their priestly service might be freely done only behind the Iron Curtain. He stated: “I saw that it was all going to the dogs, but my superiors didn't want to believe it.” The first attempt to cross the borders to Austria in August 1949 failed. He continued: “When we saw how this all ended up, in September, (I wasn't a theology student yet), I went to study to Svätý Kríž, today it is Žiar nad Hronom, where we had the Faculty of Theology. Although, we knew the time would come for us to leave, when everything will be ready.” He continued in his studies of philosophy and theology, but the time of another runaway attempt was quickly approaching. Before Christmas in 1949 he and his friend received false telegrams, which stated their parents had severe health problems. The aim was clear – to get permission for leaving the school. Hrdý claimed: “(My friend) received the telegram at nine-thirty and I did at ten-thirty saying: ‘Your father lies with many fractures in Bratislava hospital. Come and visit him immediately.’ We arranged it all. My friend didn't have a problem, but the people knew me from Bratislava. They knew I was quite roguish and tricky. ‘You will not go anywhere! We know that you want to spend Christmas among your friends. No, you can’t go anywhere!’” Finally Jozef managed to “soften up” his superior, even though he still did not fully trust him: “His name was Valábek, and he says: ‘We thought it through. You can go to Bratislava. Here is Horniak, the economist, who will give you money. And you will buy fish in Bratislava and bring them here, ok?’ This is how they wanted to know I won’t deceive them. They knew me very well.” In Bratislava he asked my friend to buy the fish and send it to the monastery. The fish arrived, I didn't. It was driving my superior nuts!” Jozef and his friend successfully ran away and in the beginning of 1950 he reached Italy, where he began his studies at the University of Turin. In 1953 he continued his adventurous journey to Latin America, where he spent four decades of his life.