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Vojtech Vagai - Roman Catholic Deacon and Chaplain

Vojtech Vagai

Vojtech Vagai was born in 1959 in Nitra, Slovakia, but moved as a young boy with his parents to South Bohemia, to the Cesky Krumlov region. He graduated trade school as a house painter and, among other things, spent several years working as a porter, where he had time to prepare for the tests for the Seminary. His spiritual path began as a acolyte and all indications were that he would become a priest. But after his army service he met his wife Anna and got married...

He was able to become a deacon thanks to a decision of the Vatican Council of 1965, that in a country where there aren't enough clergy, even a married man can be ordained as a deacon. He then accepted a celibate marriage and should he be widowered, may not remarry. Vojtech Vagai currently assists the bishop of Cesky Krumlov and visits seven parishes, where he is responsible for holding services, baptisms, weddings, funerals and even teaching sunday school. In the summer, he visits children's integration camp, as he loves children - he has three sons of his own.

If a Rom preaches in a church, do more people listen to him? "All Roma are believers, but from the church all they want is rights and their children to be baptised. They don't understand that they also have responsibilities and they lack perseverance. You can see it at the children's camps. The children from Romani families are like lost sheep, they are not made to be responsible. It takes a while before they get used to it. But it definitely doesn't pay to have camps just for Romani children," said Chaplain Vojtech Vagai in an interview with the newspaper Slovo. (Slovo, February 19, 1999)

And has the chaplain encountered intolerance? "It used to be mostly in the settlements..."

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