Around Slovakia

Slovak worshippers honour country's patron saint

THOUSANDS of pilgrims celebrated one of the largest Catholic holidays in Slovakia on September 15 - the feast of the Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows.
Pilgrims from all over Slovakia flocked to Šaštín in western Slovakia for the national celebrations, the TASR newswire wrote.
Cardinal Ján Sokol, the Archbishop of Bratislava, performed the holy mass. It was attended by bishops, priests and representatives of the president's office, the government and parliament.
Sokol said that the worshippers had all come to thank and petition the Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows, "who protects people from around the Tatra mountains, and keeps protecting them so that they can maintain their faith under any circumstances and conditions".
Assistant Bishop Štefan Sečka in his sermon talked about the protection of unborn children, claiming that "our hands are tainted with the blood of a million victims".
He also denounced what he referred to as systematic attacks on marriage and the family, and called for courage to go against the flow in the struggle for Christian values.
The Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows was named Slovakia's patron saint by the Holy See in 1927, and her feast day, September 15, has been a national holiday since 1994.
Šaštín has had a strong tradition of veneration for the Virgin Mary, with pilgrimages dating back to 1250.

Ousted Ozeta employees turn down job offers

MOST of the 600-plus former employees of the closed textile firm Ozeta Neo do not want to work in nearby factories, the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily wrote.
So far only 20 of them have accepted job offers from the Gemtex textile company in nearby Rožňava.
The company is offering 150 jobs, 50 of which are in Revúca. Rožňava and Revúca are only about 35 kilometres from Tornaľa, where Ozeta Neo was based.
Gemtex is offering similar wage conditions, free transportation, jobs in the morning shift and social benefits.
So far, 450 former Ozeta employees have registered at local job offices, pushing the already high jobless rate in the Revúca and Rimavská Sobota Districts close to 30 percent.
The low interest in new jobs surprised Viera Hanesovská, the head of the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family in Revúca.
"Gemtex presented itself in a decent way," Hanesovská told the daily. "It offered the people a visit to the company and informed them about work conditions, as well as social benefits."
The former Ozeta employees haven't shown much interest because they hope they will later find a better job in their hometowns, the Hospodárske Noviny wrote.
Gemtex is part of Swiss company Schiesser, which produces luxury women's underwear and high-quality ready-made clothes for export. The average wage of sewers is Sk15,000 (€446), and the more skilled can earn up to Sk5,000 more.
After the town of Tornaľa's rescue plan to keep Ozeta Neo afloat failed, the company closed its gates on August 31, leaving all 618 employees jobless.
The firm was the largest single employer in Tornaľa, a town of almost 8,000 people which suffered from an unemployment rate as high as 30 percent, the Hospodárske Noviny wrote.

Doctors separate conjoined twins

Doctors successfully separated conjoined twins Michal and Marek last week.
photo: SITA

FIVE-month-old conjoined twins Michal and Marek are in stable condition after being surgically separated on September 14, the TASR newswire wrote.
The boys were born connected at the chest. The operation to separate them was carried out in two stages - separation and reconstruction - and lasted almost 20 hours.
Operation-team member Professor Jaroslav Siman told TASR that both boys' hearts are functioning well, and they are currently on artificial respirators. As for their separated livers, which presented the main danger, there are no signs of any malfunction, and laboratory tests have shown them to be healthy.
Marek's kidneys, also a cause of concern, are being supported by medication and are functioning very well.
The operation was easier because the boys' hearts were only "stuck" together rather than being more closely interlinked. On the other hand, there are still concerns over Marek's heart, both boys' lungs, a limited flow of blood to the livers, and underdeveloped blood vessels in general.
The twins are currently being cared for at the Children's Anaesthesiology and Intensive Medicine Clinic in the Bratislava Faculty Hospital.
The clinic's head surgeon, Vladimír Cingel, told the SITA newswire that both of the operation phases went as well as they could have. However, it is too early to say what the twins' chances for recovery are.
This was only the second surgery of this kind in Slovakia. In March 2000, doctors at the same hospital successfully separated two baby girls who are now doing well.

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