On September 12-16, 2021, fifteen friars from the Province of St. Jerome in Croatia met at the St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Cres (Island of Cres) for a week of ongoing formation. This year’s theme was: “Daily Holiness in the Life of a Franciscan.”
The first day was dedicated to the topic of love and the integral development of people. Doctor Gordana BULJAN FLANDER, a psychologist and the Director of the Zagreb Polyclinic, lectured on this topic, with emphasis on the protection of minors and young people. She stressed the importance of the family, the environment and a healthy society. She called attention to the alarming data regarding violence and abuse directed at minors and young people. She highlighted the importance of cooperation between the Church and the competent institutions in these cases. In addition, she talked about how an individual’s experiences, relationships and personal wounds create a problematic self-image and negatively impact his relationship with others. She went on to say that each person should recognize his experiences and not be afraid of them. This is what fosters healthier psychological and emotional development and helps a person relate more empathically with other people. The participants followed the lecture with interest. They frequently asked questions and shared some of their pastoral experiences.
The second and third days of the meeting were reserved for Franciscan topics and discussions. Since the OFM confrere in charge of this topic was unable to be present, he sent his lecture material to the participants for their own personal study. It gave the participants an opportunity to spend more time in discussion. They talked about their experience of Franciscan life in the friaries, their relations with the laity and their pastoral experiences. In addition, the friars conducted an evaluation of the last four years and discussed how to make fraternal life better.
On Wednesday, September 15, the friars attended the presentation of a new book entitled, “The Diary of Friar Jozo Milošević (1918-1919)” published by the Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography. The Institute is also located at the St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Cres. The “Diary” was presented by Doctor Ivan ARMANDA, a lexicographer; Father Franjo VELČIĆ, a historian; and Friar Ljudevit MARAČIĆ, the Archivist of the Province of Croatia. The book described the darker days of Franciscan life in Cres. In his diary, Friar Jozo MILOŠEVIĆ, who was then Commissioner General, describes the exciting, tense and even dangerous days, when governance over the town of Cres was transferred from Austria to Italy.
The speakers described the complex political and social situation of those days, both at a general and local level. They highlighted the importance of the Conventual Franciscans for the island of Cres at that time. Unfortunately, the national and political tensions of that era also affected the lives of the friars, the Croatians and the Italians. The then Mayor of Cres ordered the Croatian and Slovenian friars to leave their friary and depart the island, under police escort. Dr. ARMANDA said that the publication of the “Diary” was not intended to awaken negative feelings, but, after so many years, to allow Friar Jozo to speak, who gave a daily account of the situation in his “Diary,” and to protect him from the defamation that had spread. Furthermore, he said that this exodus of the Croatian friars should not be looked at only from the negative side, but also the providential side, because after that event, the Conventuals founded the friary in Zagreb which has since become a cultural, charitable and scientific hub for the Franciscans and serves one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese.
At the end of the formation week, the friars visited the Benedictine Sisters and celebrated Mass with them. In addition to common prayer, Mass, lectures and official meetings, the participants had enough free time to spend some leisure time together, enjoying the beach, going out on the friars’ boat, and visiting Lubenice and Valun, two small villages on the island.
Friar Zvonimir PERVAN