Béres Károly (1953-2008)

Béres Károly was born on February 16, 1953 in a quarter of the City of Novi Sad called Telep, where he lived for the most of his life. He completed elementary and secondary electrical engineering school in his hometown, and in 1977 earned an electrical engineering degree at the Faculty of Technical Sciences of the University of Novi Sad. In the same time he studied at the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, in Budapest. After graduating in Novi Sad, he worked in his civil profession managing the electrical engineering department in the Neimar civil engineering and construction company. At the same time, entrusted by the Reformed bishop, he conducted religious services in Reformed churches in Serbia: first in Budisava, then in Kać, Novi Sad and Rumenka, and from 1993 in Maradik.

During his ordination in Maradik, he managed to restore the Reformed parish building and the prayer hall damaged in the fire, and partly the Church itself, with the help of people of good will from the local community and congregation.

Given the fact that the Hungarian minority population was increasingly assimilated and their language and culture waning in his parishes, his weekly religious education classes were turned into language and culture classes. Béres Károly and his wife Irenka also started the children’s summer language camp in Maradik. In October 2000, he received the annual Lajos Mocsáry Foundation Award for his comprehensive commitment to the ministry in Maradik.

Additionally, Béres Károly founded the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization (hereinafter, EHO) in Novi Sad in 1993 and was its first director. The largest number of fellow citizens still remeber him precisely for this ministry and function. During the last 15 years, EHO has implemented numerous aid and development projects and grown into the largest non-governmental organization in Vojvodina, with a few dozens of full-time employees and hundreds of volunteers today who bring new ideas and carry out the work. Today, EHO also has its own workspace.

Everyone who worked with Béres Károly knows very well that without his initiative, enthusiasm and driving force there would be not one of all of these projects, which turned into millions of meals issued, hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries, thousands of tons of distributed food, medicines and vegetable seeds. His belief in what he was doing and in the people he was working with and for, including his need to change things, enabled things to move. This faith motivated all the people gathered around the EHO, led EHO and together with him achieved almost impossible things – with scarce resources in the time when the EHO work begun.

Béres Károly passed away on May 1, 2008 in Novi Sad at the age of 56. Among the many admirers in Novi Sad, Vojvodina, the entire region and Europe, this great man and a fierce civil society activist, will be remembered for his powerful driving force and the belief that a more humane society is possible. He built edifices in Maradik, Feketić and Novi Sad, but moreover, he built bridges of cooperation towards the the future, bridges of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation and towards the Europe.