From Shelton to Rome
Frank Valabek, the father of Redemptus, was born in Vinehrad, Slovakia, one of the seven children of a sharecropper family whose land owners were absent French nobles. Because his family was large and work scarce, Frank walked one hundred miles to Klobuk in the present Czech Republic and found work there in a slipper factory. At Klobuk, Frank lived as a staunch Catholic singing in the choir and leading processions to a local Marian shrine.
On of Frank’s brothers had come to the United States and was working at Endicott Johnson in Endicott, NY. As was the custom in those days, he sent money back home for another in the family to emigrate. Frank was the one chosen but when he came to Endicott, he found there was no work for him. He knew from a neighbor back home of the Fruit of the Loom factory in Shelton, CT, where he found employment. Frank then worked at another plant but was laid off. It was the time of the Depression and Frank secured a position with the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Frank continued at Shelton his firm practice of his faith. This was manifested in his return to the Czech Republic for the consecration of the cathedral in Prague. When he returned to his home town on this trip, some women arranged for his marriage to Anna Valcik who was from Potec in the present Czech Republic. After the wedding, Frank returned to the United States to earn enough money to bring is wife over. When she came they lived in New York City. From work in the city, Frank obtained a job with a Jewish family upstate New York but was not satisfied there and returned to the city. They later came to Shelton where both Anna and Frank worked.
Redemptus was born at home in Shelton on July 3, 1934 and was baptized Francis. He attended Saint Joseph’s Grammar School and served as an altar boy in the parish. As a youth, he played Mass using his father’s wine in the cup. Throughout his life, he kept in touch with his grammar school classmates.
Redemptus accepted pain in his life and offered it for the suffering of others. This was especially evident when at the age of eleven he impaled his foot on a broken branch. A doctor stitched his leg at home without anesthesia.