Fr. Zeman was born in Vajnory, Slovakia, on January 4, 1915. He suffered various illnesses from early childhood. After a sudden recovery at the age of 10, he promised Mary to “be her son forever” and to become a Salesian priest.
He became a novice in 1931, made his perpetual profession in 1938, and was ordained in 1940 in Turin. At the beginning of the Communist regime, after the deportation of religious (April 13-14, 1950), he looked for ways to help Salesian seminarians reach the priesthood. He organized expeditions to pass them through the Iron Curtain to Turin, but on his third venture (April 1951) he was caught.
Fr. Zeman had to face about 13 years of wrongful imprisonment and torture, experiencing hardship in prison and labor camps. He was forced to endure long periods of isolation and to work with radioactive uranium without any protection. In 1964 he was given five years on parole. He was allowed (by the Regime) to exercise the priestly ministry publicly only in 1968.
He died in his home town on January 8, 1969, regarded as a martyr.
The witness of Fr. Zeman is the embodiment of the vocational call of Jesus and of a pastoral predilection for the young, especially for young Salesians, which became for him a true passion. He once said, “Even if I lost my life, I would not consider it wasted, knowing that at least one of those I had helped had become a priest in my place.”
The diocesan inquiry started in the Archdiocese of Bratislava 26 February 2010.