Josè Vandor, born in Hungary to a family of farmers, began his Salesian novitiate on August 2nd, 1927, and in 1932 he went to Italy for his theological studies, changing his surname from “Wech” to “Vandor” which means “pilgrim”. In 1936 he became a priest and went as a missionary to the Greater Antilles.
Due to the sudden closure of the works he was in charge of, he served the Congregation in various places, and eventually spent the last 25 years in Santa Clara (1954-1979). In 1958, during the battle of Santa Clara, the last military appendage of the Cuban revolution that ended on January 1st, 1959 with Castro’s victory, he endangered his own life as a mediator to negotiate a truce. Thanks to him, many human lives were saved.
He suffered a lot of many diseases, such as consumption, ictus, hepatitis and arthrosis, but he never complained. He died on October 8th, 1979.
Because of his manifold pastoral and educative initiatives, he is a model of a priest for a time of new Evangelization, as the Church defines it. The faithful appreciated in him the zealous parish priest, the greatly sought-after confessor, and the sick person who, regardless of himself, visits the sick.
His Salesian life, which was spent in difficult conditions, worsened since the ‘60s by a growing opposition to the Church in Cuba, is even today a sign for the Cuban population, where is fame of sanctity is alive, particularly in the diocese of Santa Clara.