Dr. Ferenc Kucsera

(Léva, 23rd September 1892 – Szentendre, 25th June 1919)
Roman Catholic chaplain of Szentendre, martyr

Ferenc Kucsera was born on 23rd September 1892 in Léva to Lajos Kucsera and Mária Féja. He was from a humble background, his father being a carpenter. He first attended the Piarist school in Léva and from the 5th grade he continued his education in the Saint Benedictine secondary school in Esztergom. On leaving school he applied to the seminary, but on account of his excellent results in his school leaving examination he was sent to the prestigious Collegium Pazmanianum in Vienna. On 21st June, 1915 he was ordained to the priesthood by Antal Fetser, the bishop of Győr in the chapel of the Pazmanianum.

Kucsera’s first appointment was chaplain in Szentendre. His duties extended beyond the church walls: he was an enthusiastic teacher of religion in the schools and provided pastoral care to the local Gesellenverein (Journeymen’s Union). With this community work, he earned the respect and affection of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Seeing the rise of anti-church movements in the turmoil of World War I, he was a vocal supporter of the church and published several articles to this effect. In the spring of 1919, following the establishment of a Soviet Republic, he was arrested but was set free when his loyal followers put pressure on the authorities to do so.

Not long afterwards Szentendre rose up against the Soviet Republic. Church bells sounded the call to arms. Kucsera was arrested and interrogated concerning the use of the church bells and the identity of the bell ringers. He answered his interrogators: ’I’ve told you everything I know about myself and I will not say anything about anyone else.’ These were to be his last words. He had not handed over the keys to the bell tower, but he refused to betray those who were responsible, including a father of eight children. He paid for this selfless act with his life.

He was executed on the bank of the Danube on 25 June, 1919. He was 27 years old. He gave his life for his church and others. His body was exhumed several times, but today he rests in the Calvary of Szentendre. After 1950 his memorial places were taken down, but in 1993 a cast iron cross was installed in his memory by the Parish Church of John the Baptist not far from the place he was executed.

We commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dr. Ferenc Kucsera, the martyr chaplain of Szentendre.