The Abbey in Old Brno during the past two decades, until 2014
The new prior, the future abbot ThDr. Ing. Evžen Martinec, came to the Old Brno monastery after having finished his studies in Rome, in the first half of 1995. Already during his previous holiday visits he did not get a good impression of the abbey administration by some lay persons. This bad feeling was proven to be right after having consulted the bookkeeping and gained an idea about the economic condition.
The abbey was indebted with the amount of more than 20 millions of Czech crowns. How could this happen? The friends of one employee were borrowing money from banks and he was providing guarantees on behalf of the abbey, directly or indirectly. It is needless to say that not one single repayment was ever settled. It has to be stated just out of interest that loans were agreed with an annual penalty of 30* and with the same interest rate. It is no surprise that this employee gave notice very soon.
As Evžen Martinec had been unhappy about this, already as a student in Rome, he had repeatedly made the then superior and his vicar aware of this danger. He had warned them about a possible misappropriation of assets which was a national sport in the Czech Republic at that time. They refused to listen to that. They were arguing that they saw this employee working, even in working trousers, during their visit in Brno. O sancta simplicitas!
But this is only an example for one way how the abbey was “administered” until the first half of 1995. One could also mention the very disadvantageous rentals. There were even tenants who never paid. Not to speak about uneconomic contracts of poor quality. No reply came from the General Curia to the question what to do in such a situation without any means. Actually one reply came. An Italian, P. Bellini, as general vicar, had a very practical idea: to sell the library and paintings and pay back the debts. This was of course no advice to be taken serious. But from this moment it was absolutely clear what kind of “fraternal” love and help could be expected. (Remark: during the following years, no single small word “sorry” was heard from the mouth of the then responsible and indirectly culpable people from the Roman Curia). There was no other choice than to take it to court for long years in order to rescue the monastery. At that time we were assuming that the evil was not perfect. Of course the culprits at the origin of the previous condition were slandering very intensely and were diffusing various lies anywhere they could, especially in the ecclesiastical environment.
Even despite the uncertainty of long-lasting judicial proceedings there was no choice but to begin with renovations, because the state of the monastery was absolutely shameful. It was not possible to wait whether the monastery will be seized or not. In the course of time, according to financial possibilities, on the basis of a long-term financial rehabilitation of the economic condition of the monastery took place. It is not possible to forget even after almost twenty years, how perfectly the bank account of the monastery was swept out, almost to zero. Several thousands of Czech crowns had to be borrowed for the first payment for electricity. The beginnings were really sad: the monastery was devastated, dirty, full of disorder, leaky roofs, questionable employees (some of them habitual drinkers), some tenants even more dubious… and on top of this no hint of any willingness from the “own” Order to provide any help.
But thanks to some individuals who were willing to work honestly, also with their hands and to sacrifice themselves for the rescue of the monastery which almost faced its economic liquidation, the monastery slowly began to rise up from the ashes. The monastery has been renovated step by step in such a way that it raised the jealousy in many people: “holy”, but also stupid, spiteful.
Of course it is necessary to continue to make renovations of the abbey with its large site. For example, the renovation of the enclosing wall costs at least ca. 25 millions of Czech crowns, the renovation of the listed house with balcony and courtyard at Koliště street, which is to be renovated without any delay, will also cost tens of millions of Czech crowns. The windows and distribution systems of the residential house at Koliště 5, which is in the property of the abbey, are waiting for repair which will certainly cost more than a few thousands crowns. There are also underground utilities within the site of the abbey whose repairs will require millions of crowns. So there is still a lot of work to be done and there is not enough funding if there is a real interest to keep the monastery in the required condition that would be appropriate in regard to its glorious and rich history.
Unfortunately, for instance in the Bohemia it can be seen what some monasteries look like, no care is provided by their custodians, nobody cares about them, there is no interest to work.
At the end one more information which is not without interest. In the period 1996 – 2014 renovations in the abbey and its property amounting to ca. 57 millions of crowns were realised. Not included in this number is the amount for projects, engineering activity, building oversight or economic consultancy, …., as all this was done by the superior of the monastery himself. Because he was convinced that a friar had to work.
The abbot ThDr. Ing. Evžen Martinec filed an application for hundreds of plots of land and ca. 5.000 hectares of forest within the given deadline in the frame of the restitution process.
Nearly 65 millions of Czech crowns were on the bank accounts of the abbey on 31.1. 2015.
This is only a very incomplete information on what one priest, friar has achieved with several self-sacrificing people, but also with many friends who were willing and were able to work, who were delighted to help and were honest.
We still dare to note that in the previous text there is no mention for instance of the rescue of stolen books which were transferred abroad, the rescue of artefacts of art or other meritorious activity. But this will be explained next time.
And in conclusion? We can only state that any further words would be redundant ... (“Whoever has ears, can listen!”).