Michael Novak: The Most Influential Slovak in the World

By Natalia Ložeková

Originally published on February 18, 2017 on Tyzden.sk (Slovak website)


Google Translate from Slovak to English

Philosopher and theologian Michael Novak died at age 83 years. Not coincidentally nicknamed him St. Michael. Who was he and why should it Slovaks should know?

Michael's friends, among them many Slovaks who influence during his visits, his struggle with cancer for several months, watched with concern. In November, he was diagnosed with a tumor on colon. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy. But the disease has apparently spread further than it seemed at the beginning. Last week, his daughter Jana published on fejsbuk devastating news: "We hope that we can get him out of the hospital soon, so that we can start at home with hospice care during the last days." On Friday, finally, came the news of his departure. He died in peace, surrounded by family.

Who was Michael Novak? And why would it be to know Slovakia?

rosary and crucifix

"My father's family came from the village of Dubrava, lying just below the mountain peaks, from which you can see the ruins of Spiš Castle," written in 1991 by Michael Novak in the foreword to the Czech translation of his famous book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. "My mother's family comes from a small, high-altitude villages Brutovce."

Municipalities are separated by only twenty kilometers. Dubrava is greater. It has about three hundred inhabitants. In Brutovce lives of about two hundred people. "We have everything to life in the village requires - a nice community center, municipal office, post office, there is also a house of mourning," he says proudly brutovecký mayor Jozef Komara. The village today is facing similar challenges as many other municipalities to file: overaged population and a supply shortage of economic opportunities. Some Brutovčania make the cooperative, others commute to the workshop.

Read also: Michael Novak: Remembering friends

Since asking for emigration, Fabián Gordiak, which deals with the history Brutoviec, drew my attention to interesting: The village is mentioned in the book of the Austrian writer Martin Pollack American emperor , which he published in English last year Absynt Publishing. And right at the first few pages. It starts with the fact the story of four men coming precisely from Brutoviec who in 1888 directed to the United States, but near Auschwitz detain Offices. In the late 19th and early 20th century, hence the number of people going there to make a living in America.

Brutovce church is from the 14th century. Restoration of its interior was last year awarded the ARCH and CE.ZA.AR. In spring 1900, a group of villagers gathered at the church to pray the rosary for 16-year-old Benedict Sakmara. The young man went to the foot of the German Bremerhaven, from where the ship was about to sail to America. Before leaving affixed to a tree by the roadside cross. In 1974 he discovered there by his grandson Michael Novak, although the road has led inokadiaľ. It was the last time it the official socialist Czechoslovakia allowed to enter the country of his ancestors. He came back here after the Velvet Revolution.

Peter Hudec / Getty Images  Michael Novak during his presentation capitalism and the Catholic Church - the agreement or enemies in Bratislava Hotel Tatra in 2005.

Peter Hudec / Getty Images Michael Novak during his presentation capitalism and the Catholic Church - the agreement or enemies in Bratislava Hotel Tatra in 2005.

American Slovaks

To understand the works of Michael Novak is essential to know its origin, family and the environment in which he grew up. He was born on September 9, 1933 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in coal and steel.Novakovcov family history is a story of social advancement. "My ancestors were serfs robotujúci the nobleman who lived at the Spiš Castle," Novak wrote. "All four of my grandparents were born in Slovakia and immigrated to America at a time when they were very young."