From November 26 to December 1, 2021, Friar Igor SALMIČ, the Assistant General for the Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF), made a fraternal visit to Denmark. This was the second visit to Denmark within the current mandate of the General Definitory (2019-2025). The first visit was made in November of 2019, by the former Assistant General for the CEF, Friar Dominique MATHIEU.
The community in Copenhagen has three friars. They each belong to different Jurisdictions: Friar Tomislav CVETKO comes from the Province of St. Jerome in Croatia, Friar Tomaž MAJCEN comes from the Province of St. Joseph in Slovenia and Friar Stephen BEJO comes from the Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception and Bl. Bonaventure of Potenza in the Philippines. Friars Tomislav and Tomaž arrived in Copenhagen on February 1, 2017, while Friar Stephen joined the community on December 31, 2018. The mission belongs to the Province of Croatia. The Province officially decided to open the mission during its 2018 Provincial Chapter.
The mission in Denmark has important historical roots. In 1500, the Reformation eliminated the presence of the Coventual Franciscans. The presence was reestablished in the early 1900s when friars from the Netherlands founded a settlement in Maribo. The presence lasted about seventy years. In the 1990s, friars from the United States established a presence in Roskilde. That presence lasted until 2007.
The current presence is thus the third Conventual Franciscan wave in Denmark. The three friars are living in a house in downtown Copenhagen, which they share with the local bishop. Denmark has only one diocese, with about seventy priests; very few of them are native to Denmark. Catholics make up about one percent of the population. There are forty Catholic parishes located throughout Denmark. The people are very happy that the friars have returned to the country; even the names of the town squares speak of the Franciscan presence of the past.
This fraternal visit was aimed at making an evaluation of the mission with an eye towards the future.
The friars in Denmark serve two parishes in Copenhagen. They also minister to various national communities (Croatian and Filipino). They provide guidance to the local and national Secular Franciscan Order and some prayer groups as well. Each year the friars also visit the Catholic community in Nuuk in Greenland, which is part of the Diocese of Copenhagen.
During this visit, Friar Igor met with Friar Theodor JÜRGENSEN, a Danish friar belonging to the General Custody of the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Italy (Assisi), and with the Most Reverend Czesław KOZON, Bishop of Copenhagen, who very much appreciates the commitment of the friars and their mission.
On November 28-29, 2021, Friar Tomislav CVETKO, made a fraternal visit to Sweden. His visit awakened the desire for fraternal collaboration between the Scandinavian missions of Denmark and Sweden.
I thank the friars of Copenhagen for their hospitality, for their valuable discussions, and for their courageous mission.
Friar Igor SALMIČ, Assistant General for the CEF Federation