FURDEK, STEPHAN (2 Sept. 1855-18 Jan. 1915), a priest who worked with Czech and Slovak immigrants, was born in Trstena, Slovakia. Cleveland Bp. RICHARD GILMOUR wrote to the Prague Seminary asking them to locate a priest fluent in Czech and Slovak who could come to Cleveland to work with the immigrants and Furdek, nearing the end of his studies for the priesthood, was chosen. He arrived in Mar. 1882, studied at ST. MARY SEMINARY, and was ordained by Bp. Gilmour on 2 July 1882 and assigned to ST. WENCESLAS CHURCH. Fr. Furdek worked there until May 1883, when he organized a parish for CZECHS residing near E. 55th and Broadway.

The new parish was placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes. Fr. Furdek quickly built a small church and school. He was briefly assigned to St. Procop's, but the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes demanded his return, and he spent the rest of his priestly ministry there. In 1888 he organized ST. LADISLAUS CHURCH, the first parish to serve both SLOVAKS and HUNGARIANS in Cleveland. In 1891 Furdek founded the national fraternal insurance organization, the FIRST CATHOLIC SLOVAK UNION, whose membership was 45,000 by 1915. He was the founder and publisher of Jednota, its journal. Furdek wrote numerous books and pamphlets on religious and educational themes in Slovak and Bohemian and published a reader for Slovak students. He served as a diocesan consulter and advisor to the bishop. Furdek died in Cleveland and is buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.

Archives, Diocese of Cleveland.

Furdek, Stepan. Kde se vzel svet? Napsal Stepan Furdek (1911).

Article Categories