|Fr. Jaroslav Nicola von Lobkowicz , LC|
“Before having formed you in the womb I knew
you, and before you were born I consecrated you: I
made you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:1-5).
born in Paris on the 15th of July of 1974,
of a French mother and a Czech Father. My Father
was a political refugee; he had fled from the communist
regime of Czechoslovakia and had gone to Germany, where he
was taken in by his parents. My mom, a student
in Paris, was a good friend of my dad’s cousin.
They met in Munich (West Germany) and, when they finished
their studies, they got married and stayed to live there.
were the only family that went to Mass…
I have a
brother who is one year older than me and another
who is seven years younger. We lived our childhood and
youth in a small flat in the middle of the
city, surrounded by Turkish and Italian neighbors. We were the
only family that went to Mass every Sunday, which provoked
surprise among our Muslim and non-practicing Christian neighbors. My mother
supported various families of the workers that didn’t know German,
helping them with their bureaucratic procedures, such as the inscription
of their children in schools, declarations before the authorities, etc.
She helped them a little as well paying for their
children’s education and, thanks to that, some of them were
able to go to college.
My schooling began with French
kindergarten in Munich, followed by primary school which lasted for
four years. After failing the entrance into the German Lyceum
(Gymnasium) I inscribed into the European Lyceum in the French
section, in which I stayed almost two years and a
half. I tried again and was admitted into the Dante
Outside of the classical school curriculum as boys we sang
in the choir of the state theater. Being in theatrical
representations and earning a little money motivated us. The other
side of the coin was that we had to spend
various weekends trying out opera, which awoke my liking for
We brought them the basic needs.
our Christmas and Easter vacations in Czechoslovakia and in France
visiting our relatives. We brought the basic necessities that our
relatives were lacking while retained in a communist country: salads,
fruit, and soups. The atmosphere of religious persecution was always
apparent. My cousins in school were looked down upon for
going to Mass and some of my uncles were suffering
humiliations in their work for being Catholics. At the same
time, in the middle of it all, I saw among
the families of Czechoslovakia, a lot of joy and an
example of living faith and trust in God. An aunt
of my father was a “clandestine” religious and this “crime”
costed her12 years in jail and forced labor. The uncle
of my father was a priest working in rural parishes
of the country, in those that had only a few
faithful. Every three years they would change places since they
were used to being visited by “parishioners” (that is government
agents) who would ask indiscreet questions. My father’s brother, Franti¹ek,
obtained state permission to enter the seminary and he exercised
his ministry in circumstances similar to his uncle’s. Another of
my dad’s brothers, Zdeòek, remained celibate, while his two sisters
got married. With the fall of the totalitarian regime in
1989, to the surprise of all of us, Zdeòek was
ordained a priest. He had been a clandestined seminarian. A
little later Franti¹ek was consecrated a bishop.
|Fr Jaroslav greeting the Holy Father during the Ad Limina Apostolorum visit of Czech bishops in 2005. The group of bishops included his uncle, the bishop of Ostrava.|
In France, on the
other hand, we observed a process of very subtle dechristianization,
a “silent apostasy”- as some have called it- with vestiges
of democracy and tolerance and with the banner of relativism.
We, who knew up close the reality of a country
that denied God, were seeking to live our faith in
the midst of this adverse atmosphere. Our participation in the
Catholic movement of the Boy Scouts, who were very zealous
in this country, helped us a lot. Here we learned
to speed sail in the bays of the Atlantic Coast.
The boats were given to us by the National Marina.
There were two uncovered ships with masts; the captain of
our group was a seminarian and he also taught us
how to pray.
My Heart Burned
In the years of my
adolescence, at times it was tough to be the only
practicing Christian in my class and in that school of
950 students. Sometimes they went after me with “intolerant” because
I wanted to remain faithful to the teaching of the
Pope: to many it appeared that the Pope was preaching
an irrational morality and that it was also the principal
cause of the demographic explosion.
Thanks be to God I had
a great spiritual sensitivity, and the testimonies of many saintly
priests and religious that I knew, or the stories that
I read really impressed me. I had a habit of
dedicating a moment each night to talk to God, using
the traditional prayers and also in a more free form,
as our mother had taught us. When I was 16,
in a time of prayer on a very ordinary day,
an idea, a conviction, an irresistible yearning hit me in
my inner self: the love of Jesus Christ crucified. I
arose, I went to the oratory of the room and
I took the crucifix to adore the Lord: I understood
that Christ loved me personally, so much that he had
given his life for me and for all men. My
heart burned; that experience surpassed the emotive realm and touched
my entire being.
In my last year in preparatory school one
day in the house there was a curious phone call
and I was the one who picked up the phone.
It was a certain Father Kelly from the Legionaries of
Christ. I had never heard the name, and when he
said that Brother Paul Habsburg, one of my older brother’s
classmates, had entered the novitiate, I asked myself into what
sect the poor man had fallen into.
“Are you a
Catholic?” I asked Father Kelly.
“Of course”, he answered, “We
are recognized by the Pope and we have the special
mission of promoting his doctrine.” This answer took away all
suspicion and we invited him to dinner in our house.
His visit was a revelation. For my mother and brothers
and for me, his example of faith and dynamism aroused
a great enthusiasm. My father’s reaction was not so enthusiastic.
friend recommended that I visit the novitiate.
A friend had
recommended that I visit the novitiate and so I met
the Legionary communit for the first time. The atmosphere of
prayer, joy, seriousness and charity, with which I could identify
from the start, made a deep impression on me. And
as well I began to realize that having a Legionary
vocation was a real possibility for me and probably God’s
will, even though I was not yet ready to leave
After getting the diploma, I began studying to be
a civil engineer, with the desire to be an apostle
in the university atmosphere. With a group of friends, I
helped organized retreats in the mountains and Father Kelly came
to preach. When I eventually joined Regnum Christi I grew
in the living of my faith: I went to confession
with greater regularity, I began to rely more on the
support of spiritual direction and I would visit Christ in
the Eucharist. And so my conviction matured that one day
if God called me, it would not be something that
would keep me from being fulfilled or make me a
less happy person. On the contrary, following his plans, I
would find a greater self-realization than that which I would
obtain following my own plans. My mother supported me fully
in my vocation; my father on the other hand, sought
to dissuade me which, paradoxically, confirmed for me that I
had a vocation.
My life in the Legion
The discernment stage
was an important moment: an end and a beginning. For
the summer of 1995 my family moved to Prague, Czech
Republic, with my younger brother, while my other brother stayed
in Munich. The separation was especially hard for Philippe who
was 14. He lost his two brothers and his friends
and was going to a country whose language he didn’t
understand; and all ended up in family dissent for my
I entered the novitiate in Bad Münstereifel, close to
Bonn, in October of 1995: the initial enthusiasm that I
felt after putting on the cassock quickly cooled off as
autumn came to an end. The demands of learning the
ways of the religious life were my daily bread and
it cost me a lot of sweat and sacrifice. The
closeness of the superiors and the balanced program of prayer,
manual labor, sports, classes, and the example of the other
brother novices helped me to overcome my first difficulties and
to take advantage of them to grow spiritually,
After two years
of novitiate, I did my first profession of vows and
was sent to Spain to study classical humanities. After that
I went to Rome to study philosophy for two years.
In the Holy Year of 2000 I began my internship
in France, where I helped a Legionary priest in youth
ministry: we formed youth clubs of faith education, culture, and
sports. We organized adventure camps, skiing, languages, and pilgrimages to
After those three years I returned to Rome to study
for the license in philosophy and the bachelor’s in theology.
I continued supporting as much as possible the work in
France and Switzerland.
After receiving the bachelor’s in Theology at
the end of 2008 I began doing ministerial work in
the region of Lyon, France. I hope here to contribute
to the building of the Kingdom of Christ and the
foundation of a civilization of love, of peace and justice,
according to the charism of the Regnum Christi. I thank
God in the first place for this mystery of love
with which we have been redeemed, the miracle of the
priestly vocation, and for the gift of perseverance in his
Father Jaroslav Lobkowicz was born in Paris on
the 15th of July in 1974. After receiving his diploma
in the lyceum of Munich, the Dante Gymnasium, he studied
two years to become a civil engineer in the Technical
University of that city. He entered the novitiate of the
Legion of Christ in Bad Münstereifel, Germany, on the 2nd
of Febuary of 1996. He has a license in philosophy
and a bachelor’s in theology from the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum
College. Since the summer of 2008 he has been exercising
his ministry as chaplain of adolescents and students in the
region of Lyon, France.