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John Pastorak, Czech Heritage Sermons

Title: John Pastorak, Czech Heritage Sermons

Creator: Pastorak, John B., 1894-1979

Dates: 1911-1973

Quantity: 17 boxes (7.0 linear feet)

Collection Number: MS 0088

Language: Slovak, English

Restrictions: None

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Historical Records Statement: Please see our statement on historical records and materials.

Preferred Citation: John Pastorak, Czech Heritage Papers (MS 0088). Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.


Born 21 March 1894 in Slovakia, John B. Pastorak came to the U.S. with his mother at age three. He studied at St. Procopius College in Lisle, Illinois, and at St. Josephs Seminary in Yonkers, New York. Ordained 23 September 1916, he served as assistant pastor at the Immaculate Conception Church in Ulysses, New York. He served as pastor of St. Cyril and Methodist Church in Schenectady, New York, and of St. Peters Church in Shestfield, Massachusetts, from 1928 to 1932. From 1935 until his retirement in 1973, Pastorak served as pastor at the Plasi Church in Saunders County, Nebraska. Rev. John B. Pastorak died on 12 September 1979.

Scope and Content:

The collection consists of Pastorak's sermons, the majority general pulpit sermons dating from 1920 to 1973, along with sermons for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, first communion, and Thanksgiving Day sermons. The 1926 and 1935 sermons are occasionally written in Slovak, though most of them are written in English. The vast majority of them are typed, with handwritten notes on the sides. On the title page, Pastorak wrote the date when he first preached his sermon, and then added the dates when he re-used it, often 2 or 4 years later. In his sermons, Pastorak talks about different historical and contemporary topics, concerning the situation of Catholic Church in Mexico, the persecution of Jews throughout history, Prohibition, the Great Depression, the importance of music and theatre, and about general themes, such as love, happiness, joy, sin, death, poverty, and hypocrisy. Often, Pastorak used contemporary news to explain his ideas and he attached newspaper clippings to his sermons.


Catholic Church -- Nebraska -- Clergy -- Archives

Pastorak, John B., 1894-1979 -- Archives

Catholic Church -- Sermons

Slovaks -- Nebraska -- Archives

Series Description: Series 1: Sermons, Subject, Boxes 1-7

This series consists of sermons on various subjects and for special occasions such as weddings, funerals and first communions.

Series 2: Sermon, Pulpit, Box 8-17

This series contains mostly Christmas, Lent, and Easter sermons.

Container List: Series 1: SermonsBox 1. Folder 1. Seminary sermons, 1911-1915

Sermons in English on topics such as sin, persecution of the church, humility of Mary, the wisdom of God in suffering, the bad among the good, happiness, necessity of divine revelation, the omnipresence of God, the Catholic Church as a hope and support of the American government, the Christian spirit of forgiveness, and the feast of St. Peter.

Box 1. Folder 2. Schenectady sermons, 1913-1919

Sermons in Slovak on topics such as St. Anna, the heart of Jesus, the Catholic Church, how Catholic mothers should educate their children, about the necessity of the religion, how should we protect our health, St. Francisco as example of every Christian, the trinity, and a Christmas sermon.

Box 1. Folder 3. The Sacraments, 1930, 1965

Typed and handwritten explanations of sacraments such as baptism, confirmation, and extreme unction.

Box 1. Folder 4. Sisters Retreats

Handwritten outlines on various subject matters.

Box 1. Folder 5. Priests Jubilees

Handwritten sermons for priests' jubilees.

Box 2. Folder 1. Instructions for Converts

Five handwritten parts of the instructions for converts.

Box 2. Folder 2. General topics and sermons on St. Teresa, 1926-1950

Sermons in English and Slovak and several newspaper articles.

Box 2. Folder 3. Secular biographies

Biographies in Slovak and in English on Claudia Procula, C. A. Swanson, a Swedish emigrant who donated money to the Children's hospital and Swedish Mission, and a biography of Cleopatra and other relevant persons.

Box 2. Folder 4. Sermons, Mothers, Fathers, and Thanksgiving Day

Typed and handwritten in English and in Slovak. Several sermons on the occasions of Mothers' Day (1929-1959), Fathers' Day (1959) and Thanksgiving day (1939).

Box 2. Folder 5. Sermons, on various subjects, 1957-1961

Several in English on American history and a leaflet about "Was Washington a Catholic?"

Box 2. Folder 6. Sermons, special occasions, 1926-1956

Sermons in Slovak and in English, on the visit of the Slovak sisters, Decoration of the Westfield Church, and Fr. Beranek's tenth anniversary.

Box 2. Folder 7. Sermons, religious and civic occasions

Sermons on occasions such as athletic club banquets, Memorial Day, Fathers' Day, farewell party for Fr. Sladky, and the early history of Plasi Church.

Box 2. Folder 8. Sermons, for special occasions

Written in English on topics such as euthanasia, Catholic participation in American affairs, small leaflet called "Whose country is this?", the past, present and future of the Katolicky Delnik (Catholic newspaper), Catholic education, the future of Czechoslovakia, a Czech patriotic lecture, and a book of graduation exercises called "Be the best whatever you are."

Box 3. Folder 1. Sermons, Forty Hours

Sermons in English and in Slovak.

Box 3. Folder 2. Sermons, The Holy Hour

Prayers and sermons in English.

Box 3. Folder 3. Sermons, The Lives of Saints

Sermons in English and in Slovak about St. Agnes, St. Anne, Slovak Saints such as St Andrej, St. Svorad, St. Benedik, St. Andrew, St. Anthony, St. Arcadius, St. Barbara, St. Cyril, St. Elizabeth, St. John, St. Patrick, and St. Lawrence among others.

Box 4. Folder 1. Sermons, First Holy Communion

Sermons on first holy communion, how we should approach the holy communion, how and how often should we go to the holy communion, and about the true love of God.

Box 4. Folder 2. Sermons, The Blessed Mother

Sermons on the meaning of Assumption, heaven is for all of us, the universal Mother, who was the first to honor the Blessed Mother, the birthday of the Blessed Mother, personal purity, and purification of the Blessed Mother.

Box 5. Folder 1. Funeral sermons

An extensive collection of funeral sermons, with each one dedicated to a specific person named on the title page.

Box 5. Folder 2. Wedding sermons

Sermons written for the weddings and anniversaries of individuals named on the title pages of the documents, along with sermons about the weddings, the importance of the family, unhappiness in marriage, marriage is the biggest business on the Earth.

Box 5. Folder 3. Special sermons, 1926-1960

Topics such as the Catholic Church, the first Plasi sermon, the first Ulysses sermon written in both Slovak and in English.

Box 6. Folder 1. Ready sermons, for special events

Sermons in English on the occasion of the New Year, the Epiphany, the Purification, Ash Wednesday, Easter, Pentecost, the Seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, Christ the King, fist Holy Communion, the Viaticum, personal visits to the Blessed Sacrament, the installation of a new pastor, the retirement of a pastor, the importance of clerical leadership, the cooperation of the clergy, and diocese campaigns.

Box 6. Folder 2. Sermons, funerals, for lay people

Sermons at the occasion of the funeral of a priest's father, the funeral of a priest's mother, and the death of a priest's mother.

Box 7. Folder 1. Sermons, priest's funerals

Sermons at the occasion of the funeral of a young, old, or the funeral of a retired priest.

Box 7. Folder 2. Sermons, funerals for lay people

Sermons at the occasion of funeral of an infant, a bachelor, a young married man, an old man, or the funeral of an altar boy.

Series 2: Regular Pulpit SermonsBox 8. Folder 1. Sermons, 1920-1925

Topics for these sermons include Easter, music, life, theatre, friendship, three types of character, education, the duty of good citizens, anger as a spiritual fever, atheism among the young, religion in New York City, happiness, and hypocrisy.

Box 8. Folder 2. Sermons, 1930-1933

Sermons on the New Year, the Christmas tree, the stars that lead us to salvation, salvation outside the church, the noble life, work as a blessing, the word of God, physical and spiritual blindness, temptation, Judas, perseverance, the miracle of the resurrection, prisons and prisoners, sin, the Holy Ghost, cursing and swearing, the efficiency of the Catholic Church, the personality of God, doing evil to our neighbor, the poor souls in purgatory, divorce, the love of service, and reason is not a safe guide in religion.

Box 8. Folder 3. Sermons, 1934-1937

Topics include bringing up of children, suicide, free will, communism, Mexico and Spain, becoming saints, venial sin, the return from Egypt, why are we on Earth, how the soul must be saved, and the love of children toward their parents.

Box 9. Folder 1. Sermons, 1938-1946

Sermons dealing with topics such as Lent, God works miracles, Holy Ghost, prayer, Christian burial, and value of recreation. Additional topics include what should be offered to God, what sin does to us, false prophets, the souls in purgatory, does the child belong to the parents or to the state, the storms of life, the value of organization in religion, religion in our lives, methods of prayer, false judgment, through our vocation we must save our souls, doing more than our duty, self-valuation, Christmas joy, St. Stephen, the holy innocents, that God loves us even if we are sinners, and that the parents are the teachers of their children.

Box 10. Folder 1. Sermons, 1947-1949

Sermons on topics such as personal transformation, tears, the value of time, the good shepherd is the head of the church, praying for our enemies, the New Year gives us another chance, what holds a family together, the last supper, it pays to be decent, our personal devils, the word of God, holy week services, the meaning of Alleluja, why sometimes our prayers are not answered, God governs the world, and the birthday of the church.

Box 10. Folder 2. Sermons, 1950-1957

Topics including a rosary on the occasion of the New Year, the storms of life, losing and finding Christ, the sacred hands of Christ, the sinner is like a blind man, the feet of Christ, the sacred lips of Christ, the sacred eyes of Christ, the sacred face of Christ, the soldiers at the grave, the little things of life, the forgiveness of personal injuries, the Catholic education of children.

Box 11. Sermons, 1956-1960

These sermons deal with religious or contemporary issues and are sometimes accompanied by newspaper clippings related to the sermons. The sermons, along with quotes from scripture are all written in English.

Box 11. Folder 1. Sermons, 1956-1957

Sermons on topics such as the importance of little things, the last judgment, the preparation for Christmas, the spirit of Christmas, money in the Catholic church, the birth of Christ, the star of salvation, the persecution of the church, sacrifice, confusion, sin is like a fever, loving home, death as a sleep, conscience, Bethlehem, and Christmas customs.

Box 11. Folder 2. Sermons, 1958-1959

Topics include greeting the New Year, the protection of our faith, life, the symbolism of ashes, Judas, church support, still power, and predestination.

Box 11. Folder 3. Sermons, 1960

Sermons on Christ and Joseph, peace, praying for all, the kingdom of God, the train to heaven, the persecution of the church, and the joys of Christmas.

Box 12. Folder 1. Sermons, 1961

Sermons on the Holy Family, the salvation of the soul, a change during Lent, a help to faith and hope, the foundation of the faith, Christ and sinners, and the causes of the loss of faith.

Box 12. Folder 2. Sermons, 1962

Sermons on many different Catholic topics.

Box 12. Folder 3. Sermons, 1963

Sermons on many different Catholic topics.

Box 13. Folder 1. Sermons, 1964

Sermons on trying to be perfect, King Herod, Sunday a day of rest, the Pharisees, Caiphas, Judas, Pilate, Claudia Procula, Veronica, the Resurrection, the road to heaven, and the mercy of God.

Box 13. Folder 2. Sermons, 1965

Sermons on topics such as Herod, marriage laws, sacraments, delusions that lead us to hell, the gift of bread, the cross, disillusionment of the apostles, the presence of God, the church is the salt of the Earth, how people pray, three keys to heaven, three rose petals, the gift of life, seek first the kingdom of God, God always hears our prayers, lessons from the gospel, the resemblance between Christ and David, and joy and sorrow.

Box 14. Folder 1. Sermons, 1966

Sermons on happiness, health and God's blessing, benediction of the blessed sacrament, getting a sense of value, Lent is a retreat, why did God create me, the general judgment, the holy day of hope, the unbelief of the apostles, we should look up to heaven frequently, witnesses for Christ, the trinity, and the joys of heaven.

Box 14. Folder 2. Sermons, 1967

Topics include the three confusions, sharing the responsibilities of the family, payment of Parish dues, going to church, the beauty of goodness and ugliness of sin, we are not robots, Christ not wanted as a King, you must die first in order to live again, the good shepherd, the Holy Spirit, prayer, sunshine and shadows, ascension, the apostles made a retreat, the various calls of God, a man is like a tree, the rose, and humility.

Box 15. Folder 1. Sermons, 1968

Topics included Christ the light of the church, the last sheep, God's plan for our lives, love of God and of our neighbor, the pleasant moments in Christ's life, the blessed trinity, the feast of Corpus Christi, devotion to the sacred heart, how we can help the world, the use and abuse of money, cursing and swearing, the ceremonies of Catholic church, how not to be a good Samaritan, gratitude, confidence in God, our guardian angels, confession, the kingdom of Christ, the poor results of preaching, and the prince of peace.

Box 15. Folder 2. Sermons, 1969

Sermons on law and order, responsibility in government, the faith of the astronauts, we must change spiritually, possession by the devil, the greatest miracle, who are the lost, a purpose for life, hate and lying, various aspects of Christ's kingdom, we are all millionaires, thinking of God, snapshots of life, lessons from nature, human sympathy, and the relation of sin to sickness.

Box 16. Folder 1. Sermons, 1970

Sermons on seeing things we have not seen before, God wants us to cooperate with Him, faith in God, facts about sisters, the cause of the damage among sisters, the habits of sisters, the nature of the priesthood, how priests drop out, why priests drop out, white and black funerals, Christian unity, love, the meaning of Pentecost, back to Christ, Christ knocks at the door of our heart, and good citizenship.

Box 16. Folder 2. Sermons, 1971

Topics include our treasures, mercy, persecution, the face of Christ, a nameless hero, the three women, Sodom and Gomorra, regeneration, the barren fig tree, childlike and childish, the will of God, Lazarus and the rich man, pride, and light.

Box 17. Folder 1. Sermons, 1972

Topics icnlude when God is near, the man who slept in church, suffering, Samson and Delilah, vengeance, hell, the man who lost his temper, gratitude in the ascension, Abraham and Lot, first Fridays, stay close to your guide, and God's prayer.

Box 17. Folder 2. Sermons, 1973

Sermons on the mystery of God's love, confession, conscience, sin, death, Claudia, the wife of Pilate, they said Christ was dead, and St. Peter.

Related Material and Resources: Please see other Czech Heritage Collections under the Ethnic American Collections List.

If you have questions about the Archives & Special Collections, please email "archives@unl.edu."
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