Father Martin Jilek left us

Father Martin Jilek, a priest from the Salesians of Don Bosko, was born on October 12., 1975 in the town of Litomy?l as the youngest of five children. He lived his childhood in the village of Sebranice, when he was six years old his father died. After primary school, he graduated from secondary agricultural school as a mechanic.
He met the Salesians for the first time, without knowing it, in 1983 at a summer camp that was organized by them secretly, because during the communist era monastic communities were forbidden to exist officially. In 1991, after the fall of communism, the Salesian order came to his native village and helped him discover his vocation, namely to become a Salesian priest. A few years later, in 1994, his training began. He entered the novitiate in Prague and took his first monastic vows on August 16, 1997. He took his perpetual vows in ?esk? Bud?jovice on May 17, 2003. In his application for taking perpetual vows, he wrote: “I decided to serve young people for the salvation of their souls.” And he did this throughout his life. His greatest desire was to help others come to know God and his infinite love.
He accepted a missionary vocation in his heart and went, as a student, for two years in practice in the town of Kazanlak, where he worked with young people. After this practice, he continued his studies in the town of ?esk? Budejovice, where on June 26, 2004 he was ordained as a deacon. He earned his practice as a deacon through ministry in Austria in the city of Amstetten. On April 23. 2005, he was ordained a priest in Prague. As a young priest, he was sent to the town of Kazanlak, where he continued his work with young people, which he started as a student.
When the decision was made that he would start a new mission in the city of Stara Zagora with children from the Roma quarter, he immediately showed his readiness to go together with Fr. Georgi Svoboda and Fr. Jaroslav Fogl to begin the new mission. In Stara Zagora, he became a parish priest and was actively involved in the activities in the Roma neighborhood. From 2022, he became the director of the Don Bosko Bulgaria foundation and the youth center in Stara Zagora.
What was typical of him is that he created deep friendships with parishioners and young people, for whom he became a spiritual brother and not just a friend. He was very sensitive and attentive to the needs of others. His humor opened many hearts and for that he was loved and sought after. Father Martin died in his sleep on Sunday, February 19, 2023. The same Sunday when the Gospel according to Matthew was read, which expresses his life and devotion to Jesus: “As far as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me did” (Mt 25,40)
On Sunday before noon he wanted to visit a young man in prison who many people had given up on without giving him a chance. This meeting did not take place, but he did make the other meeting, with his beloved Father. One of his favorite thoughts was, “I think the greatest thing God has gifted us with is the ability to give love to one another.”
We can say our last goodbye to Father Martin on Sunday 26/02/2023 in the town of Stara Zagora – in the chapel under construction from 11:00 a.m. and in the town of Kazanlak – in the church of “St. Joseph” from 1:00 p.m., where the Holy Liturgy will be celebrated in his memory at 3:30 p.m. The funeral will take place at the cemetery park in Kazanlak at 5:30 p.m. This is how we will fulfill his wish, which he expressed in his will that he wanted to await the resurrection of the dead in Bulgaria.
Thank you Martin, for the years we were together, you have always been a great example to me with your dedication to others. Thank You, for Your attitude towards God and for Your great desire to help others to meet Him. We can also express your life through the words of the Orthodox priest Fr. Zhivko, who said during the condolences: “A wonderful person!”
Director of the Salesian Community
Father Petr Cvrkal

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