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The Velvet Revolution was unlike most revolutions in the world. There were protests and demonstrations but for the most part, these were non-violent. The transfer of power from a Communist, one-party rule, to that of a democratic government occurred between November 17 to December  29, 1989.  This opened the free practice of religion and the ability of religious congregations to resume their activities in the country.

After World War II the Communists gained control of the country. By 1950 they had total physical control, they needed to control those who represented the opposition. The Catholic Church and other denominations represent this opposition. Beginning on August 28, 1950, the Catholic schools were nationalized and all the sisters of a congregation living in the country were arrested and bussed to camps in remote border regions of the country or imprisoned. Legally their congregations were dissolved. They were employed as factory workers or sent to work on farms. Their congregations were not allowed to receive novices.

As a result of the liberalization following “the Prague Spring ” in 1968, the congregations of women religious in the border regions were allowed to receive novices. This came to an end in 1971. It was not until the Velvet Revolution that religious freedom legally returned.

The video “Interrupted Lives” tells the story of what life was like for a sister under communism.

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