At the age of 94, Hungarian Jesuit Ferenc (Franz) Jálics passed away on 13 February in a Catholic home for the elderly in Budapest. He devoted nearly all his life to finding ways to the deepest spirituality and prayer, which he found in contemplation. He has been a widely known and acknowledged master of Christian meditation worldwide, with his books translated into more than 16 languages and his method implemented in several retreat houses around the globe.
Having been born and become a Jesuit in Hungary, on the wake of Communist dictatorship, after WWII, he was forced to leave his country. He studied philosophy in Germany, later in Belgium, then in 1956 was sent to Chile, and then to Buenos Aires, to continue his studies. After being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, he stayed in Argentina, and became a professor of theology and the spiritual director of young Jesuits, including Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.
While doing social and pastoral work in a poor neighbourhood in 1976, at the height of “Dirty War”, with his Eastern-European background, he was thought to be a Russian spy and his companion a left-wing guerrilla. Consequently, they were captured by a death squad of the right wing military dictatorship, abducted, and held captive for five months. It was this prison experience that led him develop a special method of Christian contemplation combining elements of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola with Jesus Prayer.
He left South-America in 1977, moved first to the USA, and then in 1978 to Gries, Germany, where he gave contemplative retreats. Until 2004, he was the director of the retreat centre he had founded in Gries. From then on, he did not give up giving retreats especially in Germany, Hungary, Romania. In 2017 he returned to Hungary, where he lived in a Jesuit community, then in a Catholic home for the elderly. Nevertheless, even here he gave spiritual guidance and led group meditations as long as his health let him do it. Ferenc Jálics passed away in this home on 13 February. His burial ceremony will take place on 8 April at 6 pm, in Sacred Heart Jesuit Church, Budapest.