Father Martin Jilek, a priest from the Salesians of Don Bosko, was born on October 12, 1975 in the town of Litomyšl as the youngest of five children. He lived his childhood in the village of Sebranice, when he was six years old his father was resting. After primary school, he graduated from secondary agricultural school as a mechanic.
He met the Salesians for the first time, without knowing it, in 1983 at a summer camp that was organized by them secretly, because during the communist era monastic communities were forbidden to exist officially. In 1991, after the fall of communism, the Salesian order came to his native village and helped him discover his vocation, namely to become a Salesian priest. A few years later, in 1994, his training began. He entered the novitiate in Prague and took his first monastic vows on August 16, 1997. He took his perpetual vows in České Budějovice on May 17, 2003. In his application for taking perpetual vows, he wrote: “I decided to serve young people for the salvation of their souls.” And he did this throughout his life. His greatest desire was to help others get to know God and his infinite love.
He accepted a missionary vocation in his heart and went, as a student, for two years of practice in the city of Kazanlak, where he worked with young people. After this practice, he continued his studies in the town of České Budejovice, where on June 26, 2004 he was ordained as a deacon. He earned his practice as a deacon through ministry in Austria in the city of Amstetten. On April 23, 2005, he was ordained a priest in Prague. As a young priest, he was sent to the town of Kazanlak, where he continued his work with young people, which he started as a student.
When the decision was made that he would start a new mission in the city of Stara Zagora with children from the Roma quarter, he immediately showed his willingness to leave together with Fr. Jiri Svoboda and Fr. Jaroslav Fogl to begin the new mission. In Stara Zagora, he became a parish priest and was actively involved in the activities in the Roma neighborhood. From 2022, she became the director of the Don Bosko Bulgaria Foundation and the youth center in Stara Zagora.
What was typical of him is that he created deep friendships with parishioners and young people, for them he became a spiritual brother, not just a friend. He was very sensitive and attentive to the needs of others. His humor opened many hearts and for that he was loved and sought after. Father Martin died in his sleep on Sunday, February 19, 2023. The same Sunday when the Gospel according to Matthew was read, which expresses his life and devotion to Jesus: “As far as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me have done.” (Mt 25,40)
On Sunday before noon, he wanted to visit a young man in prison, whom many people had given up without giving him a chance. This meeting did not take place, but he did make the other meeting, with his beloved Father. One of his favorite thoughts was: “I think the greatest thing that God has gifted us with is the ability to give love to each other”. in the city of Stara Zagora – in the chapel of the building from 11:00 a.m. and in the city of Kazanlak – in the church of “St. Joseph” from 1:00 p.m., where the Holy Liturgy will be celebrated in his memory at 3:30 p.m. The funeral will take place at the cemetery park in Kazanlak at 5:30 p.m. This is how we will fulfill his wish, which he expressed in his will that he wanted to await the resurrection of the dead in Bulgaria.
Thank you Martin, for the years we were together, you have always been a great example to me with your dedication to others. Thank You, for Your attitude towards God and for Your great desire to help others to meet Him. We can also express your life through the words of the Orthodox priest Fr. Zhivko, who said during the condolences: “A wonderful man!”
Director of the Salesian community
Fr. Petr Cvrkal