A nation needs role models, emphasized President Katalin Novák on the national holiday, August 20, in Esztergom, at the presentation of the Order of St. Stephen of Hungary and the Hungarian Order of Honor.
“We need role models with whom we speak the same language, with whom we share a common history, who are like us, yet more and better than us. We can look up to them while recognizing ourselves in them,” said Katalin Novák.
Katalin Karikó, a research biologist, and Áron Szilágyi, a three-time Olympic champion fencer, were awarded the Order of St. Stephen of Hungary, while Csaba Böjte, a Franciscan friar, was presented the Order of Honor of Hungary. Novák stressed that
all three laureates have an important Hungarian identity, they work for the community, and their work is also considered a service. They all share a common humanity, the importance of family, and they all live their lives according to the principle of ‘one for all.’
The president said of Katalin Karikó that she is a researcher who believed that what she had conceived in her head would be a real and good solution in practice, even if she was talked down and discouraged. She was able to build on the difficulties and pass this on to the young researchers who came to her.
Katalin Karikó receiving the award (R) and President Katalin Novák. Photo: MTI/Bruzák Noémi
Of Áron Szilágyi, the President highlighted his participation in the Stipendium Peregrinum program. As she said, Szilágyi has undertaken to personally support and help young talented people, the help which he himself has received. He is also exemplary in the way he treats his opponents as a Fair Play laureate, and in the respect he shows others.
Áron Szilágyi (R) and Katalin Novák. Photo: MTI/Bruzák Noémi
Regarding Csaba Böjte, Novák emphasized that he has pledged to provide a home and a family for 2,500 orphans and young people living in difficult circumstances. A man with a commitment to kindness, he will pass on his life and his knowledge in the same way that the children he raises care for those in need.
The smallest drifting life is a value for the Hungarian people, and my award is a sign of this,”
Böjte told MTI after receiving the award.
Csaba Böjte (R) and Katalin Novák. Photo: MTI/Bruzák Noémi
He added that the award encourages not only him, but all of us to “dare to knock on the door of the homes at the end of the village and address the children living there, dare to enter into a community of life with them,” trusting that they will become useful members of society. Speaking about his plans, Böjte said he wanted to “switch to grandfather mode.” He and his colleagues have raised nearly 6,000 children and have “almost a thousand grandchildren,” and are not keen to take in new children, preferring to look after those who have left home.
A young woman has recently alleged sexual abuse
in children’s homes run by the Csaba Böjte St. Francis Foundation in Déva (Deva, Romania). The story was picked up by several media outlets, creating a scandal, and the educator accused of abusing children in the children’s homes was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Böjte has previously said that the foundation he runs operates transparently and openly, and that the newspapers included his name in articles about the scandal to get more people to click on it. In addition, several people were of the opinion that the case was a planned smear campaign against Böjte.
Since then, the situation has calmed down and many have apologized, including the woman who wrote the open letter. She said she was hurt by the idea that she was the cause of the abuse and admitted that she had made a mistake by alleging the aforementioned things. She added that she should not have let her anger get the better of her by writing inappropriate things, and basically backed out of the allegations.
Szilágyi said after receiving the honor that he believes in the humility of the work done and that long-term commitment is essential for success. He stressed that representing Hungary is very important to him.
I put on the jersey and represent Hungary at all my international competitions.”
“It is very nice to know that wherever we travel in the world, Hungarian fencers are known, they know that we have a traditionally successful team with forefathers like Jenő Fuchs, Aladár Gerevich, and Rudolf Kárpáti. We try to take care of this heritage and carry on what our predecessors have left us,” he pointed out.
After receiving the award, Karikó mentioned that she has been dismissed or demoted several times throughout her career.
She said she has encountered many pitfalls in her life because she has always been driven by a desire to learn, rather than focusing on gaining the recognition needed to get promoted or win research grants.
The research professor of the University of Szeged has received more than 70 scientific and social awards, and has been awarded honorary doctorates at 16 universities. Each award, she said, draws attention to the importance of science and has also given her the opportunity to speak to many about the beauty of a career in science.
Karikó’s name became known to the wider public during the coronavirus pandemic, because the mRNA technology containing modified nucleosides developed with immunologist Drew Weissman enabled the first successful vaccines to be developed.
Via MTI, Featured photo via MTI/Bruzák Noémi