Rev. Alphonse Biskup, OSB
A Hometown Hero
Alphonse Biskup, a professor and prefect at St. Procopius, also had a successful career in the Czechoslovakian army.
As the first American Catholic priest to serve as private in that army, he was a great source of pride for the St. Procopious community. Biskup was such a popular teacher before he left that that the students organized a going-away assembly in his honor, complete with performances, speeches and songs.
A description of the going-away program held for Alphonse Biskup covered three pages of the Studensky Listy. Cheerful patriotism seemed to be the theme and the paper listed the songs sung and the actors in the several performances.
This lengthy letter from Rev. Biskup gives an idea of his experiences "over there." He talks about buying a new uniform to better fit his new role as private and of seeing his brother Joe (also in the Army). He describes the various means of travelling: "as (a) first class passenger in box cars, on flat cars, on autos, and walked several hundred kilometers" and the various places he slept: "...I slept in chateaus, in ruined houses, in barns, in boxcars, in trenches, out in the open field and - enjoyed it!"
"Tomorrow I leave Paris for the front.... We could not keep up with the Germans. They were continually running away from us, so that we seldom got a shot at them."
Biskup's letters make the war seem very mild. Perhaps he intentionally wrote them that way, keeping his student audience in mind.
Rev. Biskup had a very successful military career, as the Studentsky Listy proudly reported: "We here insert and extract from the Chicago Tribune, which writes of P. Alphonse's work at the front. 'To 'Private Biskup' writes the Tribune, 'falls the honor of being the first American Catholic priest to serve as a private in this war.'"
Rev. Biskup was treated as a hero upon his homecoming. This ad in the Studentsky Listy promises articles and pictures from him. The ad was created to motivate students to read the Listy; his articles and photos were quite a draw. Unfortunately the promised items do not exist. It is unclear whether he never wrote them or if they were published someplace other than the Studentsky Listy (they did not appear in that publication).