ANGEL OF MERCY
The Story of Sister Margaret Slachta
Angel of Mercy tells the story of Sister Margaret Slachta, a courageous woman who defied the Nazis and the communists in her fight for social justice. Slachta, a teacher and activist, became the first woman elected to Hungary's parliament in 1920. Her unique vision of social intervention on behalf of the poor, combined with a strong feminist streak and devout Catholic faith, led to heroic acts of courage during the Hungarian Holocaust of 1944-45.
Slachta and the Sisters of Social Service (the order she founded) are credited with saving over 1,000 lives. Hundreds of letters of safe conduct were obtained by the sisters from the International Red Cross, the Swedish Embassy and the Papal Nuncio.
Sister Margaret Slachta, SSS
Sisters of Social Service
• In 2006, a shoot at Budapest's St. Stephen Basilica documented the beatification ceremony for Sára Salkaházi of the Sisters of Social Service. Sister Sára was murdered by the Nazis in 1944 along with several people she was helping to hide.
• In April 2008, interviews were filmed with Marika and László Somogyi in Kensington, California. Marika Somogyi was eight years old when her parents gave her to Sister Slachta to protect her. Her story is an anchor piece in the film.
• In December 2008, we filmed in Buffalo, New York, at the cemetery where Margaret Slachta is buried, and interviewed three sisters who knew her. We also interviewed Tibor Baránski, who worked for the Papal Nuncio in 1944 in Budapest, and participated in the Vatican's ambassadorial efforts to secure thousands of safe conduct visas to Jews in Hungary. In October 2013, Baránski was honored by the Hungarian government for his actions in 1944, and we filmed the award ceremony in Buffalo.
• A 2010 interview was taped with István Csicsery-Ronay in Budapest. He knew Slachta when they were both in the Hungarian parliament.
• In 2014, an interview was videotaped in Budapest with two children of one of the victims murdered with Sister Sára Salkaházy in December 1944.
• In November 2014, a rough cut of Angel of Mercy was screened at two venues during Holocaust Education Week in Toronto, Canada, thanks to the sponsorship of the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. A closed program at Blessed Cardinal Newman Catholic High School on November 4, was sponsored by Hungarian Holocaust survivor Miriam Frankel, in memory of her loving parents, sisters and brother. There were two sessions with screenings and a discussion with producer George Csicsery attended by around 1,000 high school students. A third, public screening took place on November 5 at St. Gabriel's Passionist Parish in Toronto. It was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Hungary in Canada and the Consulate General of Hungary in Toronto. Hungary's ambassador to Canada, Bálint Ódor, and Consul Stefánia Szabó were both in attendance, along with producer George Csicsery and two representatives of the Sisters of Social Service from Calgary.
In 2014 the project was awarded a generous grant from The Hungary Initiatives Foundation. We anticipate completion of the film in 2023.
A photo taken after the screening of Angel of Mercy in Toronto on November 5, 2014. In the picture from left are:
Father Brando Recaña, pastor of St. Gabriel's Parish in Toronto; Sister Ernestine, SSS, from Calgary; Ambassador Bálint Ódor, Hungarian Ambassador to Canada; Sister Teresa, SSS, from Calgary; George Csicsery, producer of Angel of Mercy; and Stefánia Szabó, Hungarian Consul, Toronto, Canada.
• 12-minute cut was screened at the Berkeley Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 1, 2016.
• The 18-minute sample was screened at the Bullets to Auschwitz conference in Uzhgorod, Ukraine in June 2019. Four critically important interviews were filmed at this time.
• The sample was also presented at the 50th Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, held at the University of Texas, Dallas in March 2020.
Production will require 8-10 more shoot days in Hungary, Ukraine, and the U.S.
We anticipate completion of the film in 2023.