Antal Marton, now known by his religious name as Fr Bernard, escaped from Hungary in 1956, when he was only 15 years old, to join his brother, Fr. Henry of the Cistercian Order in Dallas. Some years after, Antal also chose to join the community and become a priest. 56 years later, Fr Bernard introduced his second book, called “Retrospections” on the 3rd of November of 2018 at the Cistercian Saint Emery High School in Budapest, Hungary.
Fr. Bernard Marton was born in 1941, during the Second World War. He suffered the hardships of the war, but after the revolution of 1956, he became an unwanted person, due to his family background.
His father was a police lieutenant during the Horthy-regime, and his brother was a Cistercian monk in America. It was clear, that Antal Marton could not continue his studies or begin a professional life in a country, where he was not welcome. The 15-year-old boy left the country on his own, to join his brother, who was serving in the Cistercian order in Dallas. That fearful journey to the USA along with extracts from his diary are outlined in his previous book, “Landmarks & Pathways.”
Antal Marton arrived to the USA in 1958, where, under the influence of the Cistercians in Dallas, he heard the call of God, received the white habit of the Cistercian novice, and was ordained a priest in 1967, in Austria.
Since 1968, he was a teacher of Latin and French at the Cistercian Preparatory School of Irving, a suburb of Dallas, held the position of headmaster for 15 years, and since his resignation from headmastership twice served in the role of form master.
Fr Bernard has always had a strong relationship and friendship with his students. The perennially young, smiling and joyful priest is part and parcel of everyday life and always seems to have time for everything and everyone. His enthusiasm for life was confirmed when, feeling overweight, he took up running as a sport. This adventure led him to compete in many marathons and ultra-marathons. Today, Fr Bernard is still running, together with his students.
Although stationed in the USA where he has spent considerable time in the sister school of the Cistercian Preparatory School of Dallas, Fr. Bernard’s love of Hungary has frequently brought him home. In the spring semester of 2014-2015, he was visiting lecturer in the Cistercian Saint Emery High School in Budapest, and true to form, completed the ‘Ultramarathon’ on Margaret Island in March of 2015.
Fr Bernard Marton established a new tradition for the two Cistercian schools. Every year, a rising senior of the Hungarian school has the opportunity to spend a month in the Dallas school. The fortunate boy — since the school in Dallas is a boys’ school, so they do not admit girls — spends four weeks as the guest of several different host families. The chosen students have always been grateful to the priest and their hosting families. They, like all of his students, keep a special place in their hearts for Fr Bernard and many of them participated in his book introduction, among them Álmos Ungvári, who acted as the MC for the event.
The book introduction took place in the Mirror room of the Saint Emery High School. Fr. Bernát Bérczi, the Cistercian Abbot of Zirc, welcomed the audience. Later Bence Barlay, the headmaster of the Hungarian High School talked about the new book of Father Bernard and thanked him for his devoted and untiring work for the institution. After these words of praise, Fr. Bernard also spoke. With a smile, he said that it was his hope that at least some of the words from the numerous praises that the headmaster heaped upon him were true. He then spoke a little about his book and his adventurous life.
At the end, he signed copies of his book, “Retrospections” which is the sequel to his previous publication, “Landmarks & Pathways.” His new book narrates his life in America and is filled with happier stories, funny anecdotes, diaries, and recollections, thus making the second book about the priest in perpetual motion, an easy read.
After the event, Fr Bernard concelebrated the anniversary Mass with Cardinal Péter Erdő and with his confreres from the Cistercian order at the Saint Emery Church next to the school.