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The MNO Team, Past and Present, and Some Parting Words

Top row: Gyula Egervári (1927-2008), Founder of Magyar Studies of America, sponsor of Magyar News Online; Bob Kranyik (1931-2012); Joe Ull; Stephen Jakab; 2nd row: Olga Vállay Szokolay; Erika Papp Faber; Judit Vasmatics Paolini; Eva Wajda; 3rd row: Karolina Tima Szabo; Zsuzsa Lengyel; Charlie Bálintitt Jr.; Zita Balogh; 4th row: István Arato; Paul Soos; Eliz Kakas; Martha Schipul. 

Parting Words from the MNO Team 

Stephen Jakab

Steve obtained a degree from Fairfield University, and eventually became Associate Vice President of Administration at the same institution. He was a member of the MNO team for a while.

I felt so sad when you informed me about the about end of the MAGYAR NEWS ONLINE.  I know firsthand how hard you all worked to make it so popular with the Hungarian community and others. I was thrilled to be invited to work with you all for a short time.

Since both my parents were born in Tiszalök, Hungary, I was a first generation American. However, I was and still am so thankful and proud of my Magyar heritage. I had to learn English when I went to school since all we spoke at home was Hungarian and I was brought up in the West End of Bridgeport. Later lived in Black Rock, which in those days was also very Hungarian.

MAGYAR NEWS ONLINE gave me the opportunity to meet wonderful people and revisit so much of the Hungarian “world” that I missed very much.

Thank you Erika. It was a joy and privilege to work with you all.

Olga Vállay Szokolay

Olga Vállay Szokolay is an architect and Professor Emerita of Norwalk Community College, CT after three decades of teaching.  She is a member of the Editorial Board of Magyar News Online.

About a decade ago Erika asked me if I would write an article for MNO on the passing of my colleague and friend, architect Makovecz Imre. Upon obliging she invited me to serve on the Board. I accepted and have been happily part of that delightful group ever since.

Over those years I wrote several dozen articles about arts, people, places, customs, happenings, family, as well as memories from my long and eventful life. The commitment gave me purpose, focus and great satisfaction. My writings did not spare occasional juicy details or off-the-wall humor. I had fun.

Our Board meetings before COVID were never limited to business only. We celebrated birthdays –  always with bubbly and delicious baked goods by our ambitious members – and had great little socials: something we looked forward to.

Closing the doors behind us will end an era but not the friendships. My many heartfelt thanks to Erika for having included me in this matchless experience!

Erika Papp Faber (EPF)

Born in Hungary before the outbreak of WWII, Erika came to the US with her parents at age 11.  She attended Georgetown University on a partial scholarship, majoring in International Affairs.  She worked at the Society for the Propagation of the Faith for 14 years, editing a quarterly magazine.  At the time of Cardinal Mindszenty’s visit to NY, she acted as a freelance reporter, even having an exclusive interview with him.  She married Oscar Faber, and moved to CT in 1989

I had been a fairly regular contributor to Joseph Balogh’s Magyar News, and was on board when Bob Kranyik took the helm as Magyar News Online was launched in June of 2007.  He set the course for the new internet version (see special article about Bob elsewhere in this issue), and a year and a half later handed the helm of editorship to me.  It has been an exciting voyage of discovery! 

I thank the Lord Who inspired and sustained us, and will miss not only our monthly meetings, but especially the joy and camaraderie as we researched and put together 154 issues over the years.  I would like to thank every member of the wonderful MNO team for pulling together in our common endeavor!  Without your enthusiasm, the web page would not have been possible!  I have appreciated your hard work and support over the years – and the fun we had! – more than I can express!  Isten áldjon meg mindegyikünket, és tartson meg még sokáig egészségben és barátságban!

Úgy legyen!

viola vonfi

Now that MNO is closing, I will uncover a little secret:  viola vonfi was the alter ego of EPF!  She was a figment of my imagination, and I greatly enjoyed creating a persona for her. She was called upon mostly when the topic called for a lighter touch.  She actually got some positive feedback, which was cause of no little merriment to us, and I had to do some fancy footwork to avoid letting the cat out of the bag!  Thank you for accepting her as one of our team!  Please forgive us for this ”pious fiction”!

Judit Vasmatics Paolini

Judit Vasmatics Paolini is a former member of the Southern Connecticut State University Alumni Association Board of Directors, former lecturer at Tunxis Community College, and a member of the Magyar News Online Editorial Board.  

I enjoyed writing for Magyar News under Joseph Balogh.  My first essay appeared in October, 1995!  New Haven hosted the Special Olympic World Games; and I served as Delegation Host Leader to Team Hungary. My essay expressed the exhilarating feeling I experienced at the Opening Ceremonies at the Yale Bowl. I stood proudly with Team Hungary as a Hungarian.  I enjoyed life in CT as an American citizen.  At the Opening Ceremonies I was especially delighted as my two worlds came together!

Joe periodically asked me to write something.  I recall one time expressing that I had nothing new to offer.  He then expressed that I surely had something in my treasure trove of experiences!  Treasure trove of experiences!  Yes!  I did have delightful ink spots to dab on a page!

Serving on the Magyar News Online Editorial Board, I was not the one at the monthly meetings nor the one who contributed every month.  However, when called upon, I always embraced the challenge. The articles which were the most challenging to write were the ones which offered the greatest discoveries about Hungarian history, its people, etc.

And then…I received an unexpected plum when I incorporated one of my essays in a class lesson!  In this particular piece I wrote about Dad being a hero.  In 1956, Dad – along with his wife and five young children – attempted crossing the border from Communist Hungary into Austria. During our attempt we were held at gunpoint!  Nonetheless, Dad called the soldiers taknyos gyerekek, snot-nosed kids.  The conversation went back and forth.  Dad had a three-year old fast asleep in his arms; yet, he engaged in this conversation, unwaveringly telling the soldiers to let us pass! Fortunately, they did and we managed to make our way to freedom.

This essay was especially well received by my class.  The students’ journal entries were truly exceptional; the class discussion was the best ever – it was a time of great discovery for everyone, including the teacher!

I am humbled that my writings have touched lives!  My great appreciation goes to Erika and the exceptional members of the MNO Editorial Board.

Éva Wajda

Eva Wajda is a member of the Magyar News Online Editorial Board.

It was an awesome learning experience for me to be part of the MNO dedicated team who, under the editorial leadership of Erika, made it the success that it was.   It will be missed.

Karolina Tima Szabo

Karolina Tima Szabo is a retired Systems Analyst of the Connecticut Post newspaper and  Webmaster of Magyar News Online.  She is the proud grandmother of two.

I had been reading the Magyar News print edition since the beginning and started to make my own collection.  To me, Jóska bácsi was always a special person; I admired his gentle manners and endless talents.  When he decided to stop publishing the paper, I had no question in my mind that it should be continued.

MNO, as we call it, was born, thanks to Bob Kranyik, Erika Papp Faber, Gyula Egervari, and Andy McCallihan.  I was a system analyst for the local newspaper, so it made sense that I would take on the systems part.  Soon after, I wrote my first article about the city of Celldömölk, where two of my sisters lived.  It was in October, grape harvest time.  There were festivities, a parade, music, dancing, crafts and food were sold.  It was so awesome that I felt I had to share it with people.  From then on, here and there I wrote articles for MNO.  Leaving the country many years before, it was a challenge for me to bring back memories from my school years, and search in books and Google for information.

In 2003 and 2004, my granddaughters were born.  After that, my thinking changed completely. I wanted to share my love of my birth country with Ally and Livvy.  I wanted them to learn about the beauty of the land, the tragic history, the culture and arts.  I prayed that I would achieve that.  They both came “home” with me to visit in 2016, and they both wrote articles of their experiences for MNO.

Now I wish they would learn the ancient, unique, and beautiful language of, as Ally once wrote, “my people, the Magyars”. 

Zsuzsa Lengyel

Zsuzsa Lengyel is Assistant Webmaster of Magyar News Online.

I helped to establish MNO under Magyar Studies of America, which is an existing organization. I want to thank everybody for their hard work over the years.  It was very nice working together with my friends.

Charles Bálintitt Jr.

Charles Bálintitt Jr. is a working Customs Broker in Lawrence, NY and a member of the Magyar News Online Editorial Board.

I would like to thank all my fellow members of the Magyar News family.  About seven years ago, Erika Papp Faber asked me to join the Editorial Board of Magyar News and since then I have written over three dozen articles.  It has been a true privilege and I will always be grateful to Erika for including me in this group.  Unfortunately, a magazine, just as the human body, cannot function without a heart and soul; so, without Erika’s leadership, this wonderful chapter of our lives must come to an end.

Zita Balogh

Zita Balogh comes from Zágon, Transylvania, where she studied hotel management. She is currently receptionist at ”The Inn at Fairfield Beach”, and is  Treasurer of Magyar News Online. 

I tried to bring the figures together with love and attention over the long period of years, since I was Treasurer from the time of Balogh Jóska bácsi  until now.

We certainly never had a lot of money, but the good Lord directed many good-hearted donors to us.  That is how we could pay our expenses.

I take this opportunity to thank the generosity of the donors, the support of our sponsors and the contributions of our members.  It is with a sad heart that I note that we are closing the doors of MNO.  I will miss the time we spent together as well as every member of the team.  May God help everyone!

István Arato

István Arato, son of Hungarian immigrant parents, was born in São Paolo, Brazil where he was a journalist.  He came to the US in 1996 and attends the Hungarian School sponsored by Magyar Studies of America in Fairfield, CT.   He is a member of the Magyar News Editorial Board

Collaborating for Magyar News Online for the last couple of years was such a pleasure. It gave me back the opportunity of writing again and acquiring more knowledge about Hungary!!

Paul Soos

Paul Soos is a member of the Editorial Board of Magyar News Online, a lay reader) at St. Ladislaus R.C. Church in South Norwalk, CT, and a student at the Magyar Studies Hungarian School in Fairfield. He is a former U.S. Air Force Officer.

Sadly, all good things come to an end.  MNO had a great run and I am thankful and proud that I had a small part in it.  Many thanks to the creator of Magyar News, Joseph Balogh and the inspiration for Magyar News Online, Robert Kranyik.  A special thank you to our MNO editor, Erika Faber, for keeping the online version going after the print version ended in 2007.  Finally, thank you to all the staff and contributors for all your hard  and professional work.  It was and is an honor and privilege to have known all of you.  

Eliz Kakas

Eliz Kakas is an Editorial Board  member of Magyar News Online, and writes from Florida.

I was not very active, but I want to emphasize that the MNO team is a wonderful group of people. I learned so much from the articles.  May God bless you all!






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