Elemér Ortutay

* 1916. 06. 02. Drahovo (Kövesliget) - + 1997. 01. 254. Ungvár
Father: Jenő Ortutay
Mother: Ilona Papp
Brother and sister: Angyalka Ortutay, Béla Ortutay I
Wife: Gabriella Vitéz
Children: Péter Ortutay, Tamás Ortutay, Mária Ortutay, Jenő Ortutay, Csaba Ortutay

Elemér Ortutay is one of the most known member of our family. His life is deeply connected to the fate and tragic history of the Hungarian nation in Kárpátalja. His work and firm stand in spiritual, national belonging can be a positive example for us, the younger generations. Despite of that we have diverse resources about him, among others Elemér's own writings, it is a hard task to write about him in a way, which present the real personality of father Elemér. Here I will cite mostly the essay of Anett Nagy. I will attach also the full text of her study together with many other articles written about Elemér.

Dr. Elemér Ortutay was born 2. 6. 1916 in Drahovo (Kövesliget), near to Huszt, Kárpátalja. His father, Jenő Ortutay was a Greek Catholic high priest. Elemér finished his high schools in Beregszász, and the seminar in Budapest. He has earned a doctoral degree in theology in 1941 also in Budapest. He has got married with Gabriella Vitéz, and they moved to Ungvár. He was teacher, scout leader and priest there. After the Soviet annex of Kárpátalja, he was put out to the street with his family. In 1949 he was arrested in connection with the termination of the Greek Catholic Church and sentenced for 25 years of forced labor to be spent in the Gulag, as the enemy of the Soviet system. He remember these times in an interview:

“I was sentenced in 1949 for 25 years on forced labor. I spent this in Vorkuta, in the coal mines. When I was sent there, I was young, only 33 years old. Before this I was the teacher of religion in the two Hungarian high schools (in Ungvár), scout leader, priest and teacher of theology. I did my theological studies in Budapest, in the Pázmány University, an in the Central Seminary. I have got my doctoral degree of theology here too. It was also an accuse against me, 'I have got a special training'. Since I took part in the Hungarian Scouts' Movement, especially since I was a leader, I took part in an activity against the Soviet state. Of course, since we were singing the Hungarian anthem in the meetings, therefore I was a 'propagator of Horthy's teachings'. But the best was this: the court officer asked me, if I had celebrated the mass every day. I admitted. So the officer recorded that I have admitted that I had celebrated the mass on the name-day and birthday of Hitler and Horthy... so I supported the fascist system and its leaders.”

Elemér was released from the Gulag after the death of Stalin (1956). On the route home he has found his father's tomb in Siberia. At home he was forbidden to practice his priesthood, he was a simple worker in a factory for 17 years, and two more as a warehouse keeper. During this period he was under strict surveillance, the police and the Soviet secret police (NKVD) collected him for a hearing regularly. In spite of this he was celebrating mass in secret at home daily, baptized the children, blessed the marrying couples, visited the broken ones, so he practiced the tasks of a priest. He thought, that the most important thing is the training of the young ones. After he has retired, he organized an illegal seminary in his home. He was the Single Person Academy of Theology as László Bella, a pot from Kárpátalja, titled him.
He was a speaker of the 3rd World Congress of Hungarians in 1989. After 1989, when the Soviet system has collapsed in Ukraine, h could practice his priesthood again openly. He has published his memoirs in 1993, with the title “Holnap is felkel a nap” (There will be a dawn tomorrow too) by the publisher Intermix. After the political changes he has published several articles in Church and other journals. He also compiled a Catechism for the Greek Catholic young students. As the last theological doctor in Kárpátalja, he has devoted his life to a double idea, the service of the Greek Catholic people and the support of the oppressed Hungarian minority of the area. In 1996 he was awarded by the Gold Medal of the President of the Hungarian Republic.

Elemér has died in Ungvár, on 25. 1. 1997, in the age of 81. Ten years later a memorial table was placed by the Greek Catholic community of Beregszász. Father Elemér was the last in the row of the Greek Catholic priests from our family, a family, who has given priests for the community in every generation during the last two and half centuries.


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