Msgr. Thomas Badovsky, 83, dies in his native Slovakia; served here 42 years

Msgr. Thomas Badovsky

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Jan. 7 at St. Nicholas Church in Lendak, Slovakia, for Msgr. Thomas Badovsky, 83, a senior priest who had recently returned to his homeland after serving and residing in the Diocese of Peoria for more than four decades.

Msgr. Badovsky died on Jan. 4, 2019, in Lendak. He was buried next to his parents at his home parish church of St. Nicholas.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will be the principal celebrant of a memorial Mass scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at St. Valentine Church in Peru, which Msgr. Badovsky guided from 1997 to 2006.

FLED COMMUNISM

Born March 5, 1935, in Lendak to Stephen and Julia (Nebusova) Badovsky, Msgr. Badovsky started thinking about the priesthood after he graduated from grade school in 1950. His was inspired by the visits he made with his aunt to priests imprisoned in a nearby monastery by the communists, who took over his homeland in 1948.

“I am convinced that they prayed for me and my vocation,” he told The Catholic Post in 2006.

Msgr. Badovsky’s dream of the priesthood would be delayed for 20 years.

He served for two years in the military — a requirement of the new leaders of Czechoslovakia — and only then began high school. Working by day and studying by night, he graduated in 1961 and went on to the College of Agriculture in Nitra, from which he earned a degree in agricultural engineering in 1966.

He began to work as an animal science technician, but the idea of priesthood never left him. However, seminaries had been closed by the communists, so he had to look for another way to pursue his vocation.

Granted a four-day visa to visit Austria the following year, he got on a boat with 150 other tourists “with the knowledge that I was not going back.” On the journey he met a religious Brother and a diocesan priest from his country who helped him get to Rome, where he began his seminary training at the Lateran University. He was ordained on Dec. 22, 1973.

SERVED MANY PARISHES HERE

While he was ordained for his home diocese of Spis, Slovakia, it was not possible for him to serve as a priest there. At the invitation of Msgr. Joseph Kapala, then pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Spring Valley, he came to the United States and the Diocese of Peoria.

He would serve as parochial vicar at Sts. Peter and Paul (1976-1979); Holy Family, Oglesby (1979-1980); St. Mary, Pontiac (1980-82), and Epiphany, Normal (1982-85).

He became a U.S. citizen and was incardinated into the Peoria Diocese by Bishop O’Rourke in 1982. He subsequently regained his citizenship in the Slovak Republic, which was formed after communism collapsed in 1989.

Parishes where he served as pastor included St. Ann Toluca (1985-92), Sacred Heart, Rutland (1988-92); St. John, Fairbury and St. James, Forrest (1992-93); St. Mary, DePue (1993-97); and St. Valentine, Peru (1997 until being granted senior status in 2006).

Msgr. Badovsky would return to active service for a brief time in 2007 as interim pastor of St. Mary, Westville, and in ensuing years would live in residence at St. Stephen Parish, Streator, St. Thomas More, Dalzell, and Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur until a second granting of senior status in 2014.

He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of monsignor in 2007.

“It is incredible that I got to this point,” said Father Badovsky in the 2006 interview. “God has helped me in hard circumstances to carry the cross in the priesthood until my happy retirement.”

Msgr. Badovsky was known for a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, and was a member of the Marian Movement of Priests. He worked to spread devotion to the rosary, Divine Mercy, and encouraged frequent reception of the sacrament of reconciliation.

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