Cistercian Father Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy receives Catholic Foundation award

When I was growing up in Hungary my parents wanted me to learn German and I took lessons from a nice older lady. I learned much later that she had been a nun before 1950 and gave private lessons to survive after losing her teaching job at a Catholic school.

On August 30, 1950, Hungary’s Stalinist government closed 23 male and 40 female religious orders. 2,582 monks and 8,958 nuns lost their livelihood. The government kept precise statistics and reported that only 3,381 priests could keep their jobs in this predominantly Catholic country.

The closing of the religious orders was a sharp attack against the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the agricultural land of the Church had been nationalized and distributed earlier as part of the land reform of 1945. Now the remaining monasteries and cloisters were also closed; monks and nuns could not continue their quiet life. Church-sponsored schools were nationalized and nuns who worked as nurses in the hospitals were replaced with often less trained civilians. Nuns and monks were accused of being the enemies of the People’s Democracy. They were labelled “agitators for the imperialists” for “spreading reactionary rumors” by Hungary’s Socialist government.

Many of them left Hungary and some made their way to North-America. They joined religious orders in the US and Canada and established new institutions. In my home state, California, The Woodside Priory and the Saint Michael’s Abbey were founded by Hungarian monks.

Anselm Nagy was a young priest in 1946 when he arrived to the US. He was sent by the Hungarian Cistercians of Zirc to pave the way for others to follow. Within a couple of years a group of Hungarians settled at the Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank, Wisconsin. In 1953 some of them moved to Texas and the Cistercian Abbey – Our Lady of Dallas was born with strong connections to the Abbey of Zirc.

Denis Farkasfalvy was a young student when he left Hungary in 1956. He became an ordained priest in Rome, where he also obtained a doctorate in theology. After arriving in Irving, Texas, he earned a degree in mathematics from Texas Christian University and in 1965 became a math and theology teacher at the Cistercian Preparatory School. He also taught theology at the University of Dallas. Later he was appointed headmaster and Abbot and oversaw the expansion of the school and the building of several new facilities.

Cistercian Father Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy receives Catholic Foundation award.

Cistercian Father Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy receives Catholic Foundation award.

This year Cistercian’s Father Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy received the Catholic Foundation award for his contributions to Catholic education in Dallas. A wonderful English language video was published showing his remarkable life, testimonials and the amazing story of Hungarian Cistercian monks in the US.

(Click here to see the video Honoring Father Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy.)

György Lázár

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