- Was born on January 14, 1958 in Varín, in the district of Žilina, Slovakia. He is the son of a Czech father, Dr. Josef Žaloudek, and a Slovak mother Valéria.
After High School, he studied for 2 years in a theological university in Bratislava. The Communist regime was in power. When he refused to collaborate with the Communist secret police, he was no longer allowed to officially continue his studies in theology. He secretly entered the order of the Capuchin friars, and continued, still in secret, to study in Slovakia and in neighbouring Poland. In 1982, he was consecrated, once again, secretly, in Warsaw, as a Catholic priest, through the auspices of the archbishop Dabrawsky.
His official work was as a radio-therapist, in the cancer hospital in Bratislava. In addition to this job, he organised and was also often furtively active in smuggling Christian and religious books across the "green frontier" - the high Tatra mountains between Poland and Czechoslovakia.(After 1993, known as the Czech and Slovak Republics) During those days of Communism, no religious books or films were allowed in the "official culture."
Meanwhile, his hobby had always been photography. And so he organised the presentation of numerous slide-shows, and he presented 5 and 16 mm movies with strictly Christian themes, in small communities all across Czechoslovakia. Because of the wishes of the General Superior of the Capuchin Order in Rome, Italy, he escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1983. He then finished his theological studies at the University Antonianum, in Rome, specialising in "Christian spirituality;" and after 1987, he worked as a Catholic priest in Vienna, Austria. Part of his new job in Vienna was to work not only for the Austrian people, but also for emigrants. He became a "middleman," offering information between the still secret church in Czechoslovakia and the hierarchic church in Rome.
1991 he left the order, and married an immigrant woman
in Vienna. Since that time, he has worked once again officially, as a
radio-therapist - in the field of radio-oncology, in Vienna. Unofficially,
his work is as a pastoral assistant. He eventually returned as well, to
his young man's hobby - the presentation of slide-shows and photo-exhibitions.
Since he speaks fluent Czech, Slovak and German, he has been able to make
frequent visits to the countries between Vienna (Austria) and Prague (Czech
Republic) and the Bratislava of his youth (in the Slovak Republic.) These
are the places where he presents his popular slide-shows. As of today,
he has offered 85 slide-show-presentations and numerous photo-exhibits,
all surrounding these themes: 1).The Leper Colony in Moloka'i; 2). Slovakia
- An Unknown Country in the Heart of Europe; 3). Daily Things...
Moloka'i - Only a few people know that on this beautiful Hawaiian island, there exists a colony of lepers. This colony became known at the end of the 19th century, when the Belgian Catholic priest, Damian de Veuster arrived there to live with the colony as a volunteer. Peter Zaloudek first read about this priest when he was 15 years old. It was in a biography by a German author, Wilhelm Hünnermann - "On the island of death". The book was published in Rome, Italy and had been smuggled into Czechoslovakia. It was a true story, and it made a tremendous impression on Peter Žaloudek. Perhaps it was thanks this early impression, that he later decided to study theology and to become a priest. But this book also evoked another desire in him: to visit Moloka'i, one day. Of course, at that time of Communism and its rule, this was impossible. Only many, many years later, after his emigration to the West, he found the chance to fulfil his youthful dream.
During a vacation in Hawaii in 1997, he visited Moloka'i for the first time. This first visit made an understandably powerful impression upon him. He decided to return again, to spend more and more time on Moloka'i and to obtain information and photographs of Fr.Damian and his history, and about the people he touched, and their experiences. Žaloudek has visited the island five times, and compiled his research into a 90 minute slideshow. He believes that the example offered - of the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of Fr.Damian for the unfortunate lepers, could not only help those who do a different kind of "social work," today, but also it could help all those people who long for and want to realise a more beautiful world and a deeper and more valuable life in general. In the message of Fr.Damian, Žaloudek sees that we can also find, today, in our modern and civilised world, answers with many parallels to that time - a time when thousands of people were sent to live in the exile. The prejudices, fears, intolerance, egoism, and the incapacity to see beyond personal horizons, belongs, unfortunately to our present daily world...
Slovakia: - had until 1918, been a part
of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Today, at the beginning of the 21st
century, Slovakia is the neighbour country, not only to Austria, but also
to the EU. After the lengthy period of the Communist regime, Slovakia
is interested in joining the EU and in becoming a part of modern and multicultural
Europe. But today - perhaps more than in the Communist era - there is
still a kind of "spiritual iron curtain" in the minds of many
people - this time in the West. Many keep looking for reasons and conditions
that can be directed against the entry of this small country to the European
Union. However, Slovakia is a country with more than a thousand years
of Christian cultural traditions, a country with exquisite natural landscapes,
and beautiful people. Slovakia possesses a well educated population, highly
developed industries and a sound infrastructure as well.
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