In memoriam - Károly Béres
On this page we are giving a few speeches delivered at the commemorative service dedicated to Late Rev Károly Béres, held at Christian Reformation Church in Novi Sad on 3rd May 2008:
- Ms Anna Bu, Acting Director of EHO, on behalf of EHO staff and associates
- Ms Julija Ghandour Schal, Coordinator of Ecumenical Cooperation EHO, on behalf of international friends and partners
- Prof. Dr. Svenka Savić, representative of of NGO sector
- A few picturs from the commemoration
The Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation, its associates, volunteers and friends are met here today to say farewell to Károly Béres – its director, leader and founder, the man whose vision built EHO and the man who devoted the last 15 years of his life to its work and development.
Károly Béres was born on the 16th February 1953 in Novi Sad, here in Telep where he spent all his life. He completed primary school and secondary electro-technical school in his home town and in 1977 graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the Faculty of Technical Sciences at the University of Novi Sad. At the same time he studied at the Reformed Theological Faculty in Budapest. On graduating he worked in his chosen field leading a team of electrical engineers in the Neimar design office. At the same time he ministered in the church: first in Budisava, then in Kac, Novi Sad and Rumenka and in 1993 the bishop appointed him to the parish of Maradik.
During his ministry in Maradik, with the help of people of goodwill, the local population and parishioners, he succeeded in restoring the parish building and the prayer room which had been destroyed in a fire, as well as partially rebuilding the church building.
As the Hungarian population in his parish was rapidly being assimilated which was leading to the decline of their language and culture, his Sunday divinity lessons became lessons in language and culture. Károly and his wife Irenka also started a summer language camp for children in Maradik. In October 2000 he was awarded the annual prize of the Mocsari Lajos foundation for his ministry in Maradik.
Along with all this work Károly was also Director of the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation in Novi Sad from 1993 and it is in this capacity that he is best known to the largest number of his fellow citizens. Over the last 15 years EHO has realised a large number of projects and has grown into the largest NGO in Vojvodina, with now 22 permanent employees, hundreds of volunteers and its own offices.
Those of us who worked with Károly know only too well that these projects would not have seen the light of day but for his initiative, enthusiasm and driving force. Thanks to his energy they have been resulted in millions of meals served, hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries, and thousands of tonnes of food, medicines and vegetable seeds distributed. Today we have trained volunteers and committed associates who are developing new ideas and projects. And I believe that in this respect Károly was pleased with us.
Károly's need to change things and his belief in what we were doing, his belief in the people with whom and for whom we work - that belief enabled things to move forward. Károly’s belief motivated us all, it showed us the way and enabled us to achieve together the impossible - in terms of the resources that we had available and the times in which we work.
Károly took the most difficult decisions in difficult times – when and how to start a project or to start to build, he courageously accepted risks and stood by all his decisions and the people he worked with, but at the same time giving us enough space for our own initiatives and personal development.
We in the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation remember him first of all for his goodness, tolerance and understanding and his readiness to commit himself to each one of us. We will remember him for his unique gift of listening to all of us and to everyone else who approached him. He listened to us, helped us and committed his time to us, as if we were the most important people at that moment, as if he didn't have a thousand other jobs and preoccupations. To Károly every man was equally important and worthy of his attention.
Finally I would like to pay tribute to Károly as a visionary and builder. He didn't just build new buildings in Maradik, at the Lojenberg Home in Feketic or the new building of the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation here in Novi Sad; he also built bridges of cooperation and bridges of the future - bridges of ecumenical, inter-faith and regional cooperation and bridges towards Europe.
Thanks to him for everything and eternal glory to him!
I have been given the very difficult and sad task of trying to encompass the impossible in a few sentences as I stand here by this coffin. After such a rich and unfortunately very short life I as one of his closest and oldest colleagues will certainly not manage to mention even his most important qualities.
We are bidding farewell to a very dear friend, Károly Béres, founder and director of the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation. EHO began its work in 1993 with the assistance of Swiss Interchurch Aid and Hungarian Interchurch Aid through donations from Protestant Churches from the West. Under Károly’s leadership and through the promotion of Christian values we attempted in our work to help the needy without regard to their national or religious affiliation. Although we have had difficulties we have made a significant contribution to the peaceful coexistence of the population of Vojvodina.
In renewing the diaconal ministry we were recognised for our readiness to help, wherever we could. Our director made the greatest contribution to this by making use of the rich forms of ecumenical cooperation in all our activities. The best examples are the ecumenical prayers for peace, the conferences and meetings at home and in other countries.
Our overseas ecumenical partners such as HEKS of Switzerland, GAW from Germany, Humanitarian Organisations from England, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Diakonie from Austria and from other countries were all impressed by the personality of our Károly. A significant element at the start of our ecumenical cooperation, apart from the joint campaigns, was the continuation of dialogue between our churches.
The multifarious religious, national and cultural tradition of our region is a real treasure. In the most difficult years following the founding of the organisation Károly also insisted on cooperation with the Jewish and Islamic communities, and these relations remain good to this day.
The growth of ecumenical cooperation and rapprochement is solely his achievement. The churches from our twin cities such as Dortmund and Norwich regularly cooperate with us.
He worked at full strength on the establishment of a caring, socially sensitive society, driven by basic human values such as peace, justice, solidarity and reconciliation
Having benefited from a broad education he was always able to find the best solution in every difficult situation. The majority of his visions have been achieved through our projects. One of his dreams has been fulfilled, the building of an ecumenical centre, and all the others may be too in the future if the Almighty is with us.
Our ecumenical partners were unfortunately unable to be here with us but they send their condolences. I am sure that for all his colleagues and for myself the time we spent together was a great honour. THANKS TO HIM. Allow me to adapt the thoughts of the scientist Hieronymus and say that as well as feeling grief we should also rejoice that we had the opportunity to work with him. He has just gone on before us. MAY HE REST IN PEACE.
Károly Béres (1951-2008), minister, engineer and director of the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation in Novi Sad, was above all a disciple of Christ. His basic tenets were the words of Jesus: “Fear not" and “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me"!
For all of us who in the middle of the nineties began the process of building a civil society from within the alternative (so-called “non-governmental) sector he and EHO were our example, support and source of strength.
It is very good to have a reliable support when you are involved in such a task in such difficult times. It took a great deal of wisdom, patience and goodwill to get things started and to achieve recognition across the city and throughout the province for the good intentions of organised citizens and to create something that would last. Both we, and he were rather inexperienced and naïve in our conviction that our efforts would quickly bring fruit. After 15 years of working together, supporting one another and warming to the idea that the Truth can be seen, we are slowly diminishing in number … But hope remains.
Károly Béres was a minister and an activist who sought to build a civil society in the best sense of that word. He successfully combined all his activities into the one mission which was that things will be better if we work together: together in faith, in mutual respect and in our ideas. We are all one in that mission; there are no more or less important tasks: But it seems to me that inter-faith dialogue was the most important thing to him, and he felt that it should be built by ordinary citizens from the perspective of their own needs, although he didn’t overlook the significance of the public figurehead. For if we feel for one another in our faith, then we have distributed aid, visited the elderly, taught Roma children, and supported women in their struggle against violence.
Károly Béres knew how to gather people together and to encourage us to persevere in what we plan. Thanks to the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation much of that work has been started and much completed in Novi Sad and the Province, although little is known about it since the basic motto of all activities in this organisation is "He who needs to know sees all." Having learned a great deal from him and being empowered to give back to others, I believe that is it now time for us to take up his heritage. His message that inter-faith understanding can be achieved by small steps: through social contacts, talking to one another, and getting to know each other better, remains the bedrock of the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation just as it is of our civil initiatives.
Glory to him.
Svenka Savić 3.05.2008.
|Picture above courtesy of the "Dnevnik" newspapers||Picture above courtesy of the"Magyar Szó" newspapers|