Feast of St. Catherine 2017 – Report

On Wednesday, 22 November 2017, a few days before the Feast of St. Catherine, Katarínka Feast took place in the Franciscan monastery in Bratislava. The feast started with a holy mass, whose main celebrant was Branislav (Beren) Popelka, parish priest in Piešťany. The festive preacher was Ondrej (Chesed) Chrvala, secretary for youth of the Slovak Bishops’ Conference. Following the Gospel reading, he invited the participants to have courage to develop the gifts they have been given by God, because God looks more at one‘s effort that at results. He presented an interesting reflection that a servant who incorrectly invests his pound and loses it, would be in better position before his master that the one who fearfully hides his pound.

The holy mass was accompanied by music and songs of the choir consisting of Katarínka volunteers. Shortly before the end of the mass, the lights went off due to electric short circuit. Thanks to this, people in the church could experience the night atmosphere of Katarínka.

The holy mass was followed by a gathering with space for conversations, food (bread slices with pork fat and onion). Participants could also see an exhibition about Katarínka, photos from this year, or support this volunteer project by paying for some souvenirs, for example postcards, pens, pencils, fridge magnets.



Night of castles and ruins at Katarínka

The Night of castles and ruins at Katarínka turned out well, despite unfavourable weather forecast. Katarínka again took part this year in the Slovak countrywide event Night of castles and ruins, which is under the auspices of civic association Zachráňme hrady.

Parson Branislav Popelka from Piešťany and Miroslav Kováč from Dechtice served the Holy Mass in the area of the church.

Since it did not rain and the wind calmed down, approximately 150 visitors were able to enjoy both the superb atmosphere and an impressive concert of baroque virtuosi. It is interesting that a large part of the pieces was composed by Pantaleón Roškovský, who was a Franciscan that used to act around Katarínka. Not only his compositions, but also pieces of other baroque authors were performed by artists Adam Štefunko (electric organ) and Michal Klas (baroque violin, vocals).

Subtle illumination of the ruins was very impressive, as well as night tours, which were accompanied by traditional monastic dish – water and bread with butter and onions. Even before the start of the event, it was possible to visit the reconstructed 30-meter high tower, where the visitors could enjoy a moving view and listen to a detailed commentary given by guides.

We are very satisfied with both the attendance and the atmospere of the event, because we did not expect so many visitors with such weather conditions. However, many came and they obtained a reward in the form of a splendid evening at Katarínka.


Doors Open Day at Katarínka – sightseeing tower opening

Wednesday 5 July 2017 was the day of the biggest event of the year at Katarínka. The program of doors open day at Katarínka attracted more than 1,000 visitors from all parts of Slovakia. The focus was on the sightseeing tower which the volunteers from will Katarínka will open to public from 6 July.

The first people came to enjoy the peace and natural scenery even before the official beginning of the program. The main program started with a holy mass in the ruins of the church. The mass was celebrated by Franciscan Felix Mária (ThLic. Zdenko Žiška) and parish priest from Dechtice Miroslav Kováč. It was followed by a theater performance that described the interesting history of Church and Monastery of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Afterwards, visitors could enjoy the food prepared by the volunteers from Katarínka. The program continued with guided tours and various creative workshops for children.

After years of active volunteering activities, mainly in summer months, we are announcing opening of the sightseeing tower for general public, starting from 6 July. During doors open day, the tower was festively blessed, with presence of the invited guests. Entrance to the tower is possible only during good weather for max. 16 visitors and together with 2 guides. No special authorization is needed in advance; the tower will be (with a few exceptions) open during whole summer between 8:00 and 17:00.

Founder of Katarínka project, Peter Herceg: “We are very pleased that we can share this success with others. After years of hard work, when hundreds of volunteers were taking turns here, we can open the sightseeing tower for public. Visitors can get to the top of a 30-meter high tower and enjoy the view of surroundings – Little Carpathians. We ask visitors for their patience, because we do not know how big will be the demand. A situation can occur when more visitors come and not everyone will be allowed to enter the tower. These limitations are related mainly to security measurements. We also in advance would like to point out that visitors should be careful when going up or down the tower, because the stairs are rather steep. We are looking forward to all visitors and believe that the sightseeing will be worth it.”


Pilgrimage to Katarínka – starting the 23rd season

On Sunday, April 23, 2017, more than 100 people walked during the White Sunday pilgrimage to Katarínka monastery. The whole event started at the Buková railway station and people wandered through the woods of the Small Carpathian mountains up to Katarínka.

n the ruins of the church and monastery of St. Catherine of Alexandria mass was held at 14 o’clock. It was attended by about 250 visitors. Even despite the cold weather and the wind that accompanied the whole pilgrimage, many enthusiasts came, among whom were adults, children, and also the older generation.

The service was celebrated by the Franciscan Felix M. and the priests concelebrated, Mário B., Miroslav K. from near Dechtice and the Jesuits Martin H. and Ladislav Š.. After the service volunteers were accompanying visitors of Katarínka with their historical interpretation.

Peter H., the founder of the Katarínka project, described this year’s journey as follows: “I think the 18th White Sunday fell very well despite the fact that the whole week before news had reported bad weather. During service we had a nice celebration. We are pleased that many families and also Scouts have come. It was already a classic annual event, and the people were very satisfied, so we are happy too.”


Katarínka involved again in The Night of the Churches

On Friday 23rd May, we joined the project “The Night of the Churches” by attending the programme which we organised at Katarinka.

The programme consisted in prayers and a play telling the history of the place. Then, the guided tours of the church and monastery ruins continued, lit by lanterns and explaining the 400-year history of the ruins, the goals of the project Katarinka and its voluntary activities.

This year, about 150 visitors and supporters arrived to enjoy Katarinka in the late evening hours, coming not only from the near villages and towns, but also from further ones, such as Nitra, Nové Zámky or Lučenec. The importance of  was emphasized by one of our volunteers: “Young volunteers from all over Slovakia save the ruins of St. Catherine’s monastery and church not only for themselves, but for all the people who come here to look for peace, good and rest. The project  the Night of the Churches is an extraordinary occasion on which we can make the atmosphere and the message of the ruins available for visitors from afar and, by means of the programme, hand over not only a lovely experience, but also the values, hope and faith of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Alexandria.“


Video in Lux TV (Slovak only):


“Bielonedeľná púť” to Katarínka celebrates 15th anniversary

The last April Sunday (27/04/2014) was dedicated to “Bielonedeľná púť”, the traditional one-day pilgrimage to Katarínka on the first Saturday after Easter. The pilgrimage was attended by approximately 140 pilgrims, and about 280 people took part in the following Holy Mass. This day’s mass turned out to be a celebration of both the canonization of John XXIII. and John Paul II. as well as the feast of the Divine Mercy Sunday, which is also called the “White Sunday”, of which the name of the pilgrimage is derived.

The track of the pilgrimage started traditionally at the railway station Buková, from where it continued across Raková and up the forest trail straight to Katarínka.

The pilgrimage was accompanied by short stops with reflections which recalled the meaning of the pilgrimage. The sunny weather, which lasted until the very end, created an agreeable atmosphere throughout the journey.

The Sunday Mass in the ruins of St. Catherine’s Church was celebrated by Branislav “Beren” Popelka, the administrator of the parish of Majcichov. The sermon was delivered by Vladimír Bartolomej Hurňanský (in the picture, distributing the holy communion), a dominican priest and administrator of UPC Zvolen. After the mass, an opportunity arose to have a barbecue, to show the visitors the results of the work and the plans of the volunteers that help here over the summer. Some people were also interested in a guided tour telling the history of this place.

It was the 15th pilgrimage from the time of its modern dating. We were pleased by the biggest turnout so far – probably also thanks to the favourable weather, although it is generally hard to predict weather in April.