On December 29, 2020, an earthquake hit the city of Petrinja (some 40 km south of Zagreb) and its surrounding area. Seven people have died in the destructive earthquake, many were injured, and many people lost their homes. Being 6.3 degrees strong at the epicenter, it has destroyed the neighboring towns and villages, including an elderly home run by a Jesuit Charity (Bishop Josip Lang Foundation) in Mala Gorica near Petrinja. All residents of the elderly home were evacuated and transferred to a safe location. The president of the Foundation, Fr. Mijo Nikić SJ, who came to assess the situation of the elderly home after the previous earthquake, was slightly injured during the earthquake. The earthquake also hit Zagreb, causing the same degree of damages to Jesuit communities as the March Earthquake, including new cracks and holes in the Jesuit Basilica of the Sacred Heart and other Jesuit houses. The Basilica’s ceiling was additionally damaged, just after the works on its reconstruction had begun. There are also new damages to St. Joseph’s College in Zagreb, both on the walls and the roof. The historical building was already severely damaged by the earthquake in March. The old College has to be completely reconstructed to be habitable again. Mobile team of priests helping victims of earthquake At the initiative of Croatian Jesuits, on January 8, 2021, a mobile team of priests was formed to provide psychological and spiritual help to people and families who were victims of the recent destructive earthquake on the territory of the Diocese of Sisak (Croatia). The team is a part of a broader project of the Commission for Family Pastoral Care of the Diocese of Sisak. The team headquarters is located in Mala Gorica near Petrinja, and it is from there that the priests and psychologists visit families and parish communities of the affected areas. The mobile team began their active work on January 9, 2021. They visited many families near Petrinja, Glina, and Sisak. On the first day, nine people participated: six Jesuits (Fr. Ivo Antunović, Fr. Stipo Balatinac, Fr. Zvonko Vlah, Fr. Antun Volenik, Fr. Zdravko Jelušić, and Fr. Mijo Nikić, leader of the team), two Diocesan priests (Rev. Branko Koretić and Rev. Josip Bošnjaković), and a layman (Dr. Petar-Krešimir Hodžić, head of the Office for Family and Life of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference). The task of the team is to listen to people, to empathize with them and understand their pain and suffering, to be with those in need. Also, they are administering sacraments (Confession, Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick). In that way, they are being ministers of reconciliation and consolation, bringing light and peace to people that have suffered gravely because of the earthquake. Several European Jesuit Provinces and JESC mobilise funds to support Croatia earthquake victims​ Earthquake destroyed “Lang’s Home” for the elderly, sick, invalids and abandoned persons in Croatia How to fund? Click here.
Advent is a time of preparation for the encounter with the Christ Child born in the manger.  Therefore, it is appropriate to deepen our immersion in the mystery of Incarnation through different means: prayer, acts of charity, spiritual reading... In Croatia, one way people prepare themselves for the great feast of Christmas is through the Rorate Mass, a votive Advent mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary usually celebrated at 6. A.M.  In the past years, Croatian Churches would be full of people who wanted to enter more profoundly into the mystery of Christmas, but this year was different due to the ongoing pandemic. However, Croatian Jesuits were able to overcome this obstacle by reaching an agreement with a national sports channel (Sportska Televizija).  People could thus follow the Rorate Mass on television. “Let us be together in prayer.  Let us be connected through the means that God gave to our time. Let nothing hinder us from our preparation for the birth of Jesus.  Let a cry spring from our hearts every day: ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’” wrote Fr. Stipo Balatinac, Superior of the Jesuit Palmotićeva Community, in a public statement. The Rorate Mass was celebrated in the hall-church next to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Zagreb and thousands of people were able to be together in prayer and communion every day.  According to the statistics of Sportska Televizija, on December 21, 9000 people followed the Rorate Mass.  Thus, in these dark times, being able to follow the Rorate Mass on television has brought consolation, light, hope, and peace to thousands of people.
Young People Being the Change in Their Communities “Be the Change” was the motto of this year’s project “72 Hours without Compromise” (72 sata bez kompromisa), an international volunteer project that animates young people and promotes solidarity, community, creativity, and volunteering.  The project took place from October 16 to 18 in 15 Croatian cities and municipalities.  In Zagreb, the project began on October 15, 2020, with the evening Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Tomislav Špiranec SJ (SKAC Palma) in the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Jordanovac. In his homily, he encouraged young people by saying that they will not only be meeting the current needs of many people, but they will also do many things that will not be seen: bring joy to the lonely, dignity to those who feel worthless, peace to those who are restless, and conversation to those who are lonely.  “That is, in a word, love,” concluded Fr. Špiranec. After receiving their assignments, more than 2000 young people all over Croatia uncompromisingly offered their talents, forces, and skills in the following two days to bring a change to their local communities through more than 300 voluntary activities, which is especially significant in this time of epidemiological crisis.  The goal of the project is to gather young people, making them aware of the importance of volunteering, listening to the needs of others, and participating in concrete changes.  The participants accomplished this through tidying up schoolyards, building wheelchair ramps, painting houses and benches, cleaning up the environment, and through many other deeds.  Through their solidarity, love, commitment, and compassion the young volunteers truly made a difference in their local communities. “72 Hours without Compromise” was devised and launched in Germany in 1995 when a group of young people decided to find a way to encourage their peers to volunteer and give themselves to others uncompromisingly and unconditionally, especially to those on the margins of society.  Since then, the project has gathered and continues to gather thousands of young people all over Europe who are working together to transform their local communities through volunteering.  The project is being implemented in ten European countries – Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, and Croatia.
Summer is a time for vacation and recuperation. Ideally, we want to use this time not only for rest but also to revisit what we have done and prepare for what is ahead of us. Summer is also a time for spiritual renewal and it is for this reason that there are many summer camps for students and young workers. However, the epidemiological situation that we are now faced with posed a challenge to the organization of summer camps. SKAC (Student Catholic Center) Palma responded to this challenge on a simple way by organizing three eight-day Ignatian retreats at Modrave (near Šibenik, Croatia) for around seventy volunteers and exercitants under the motto “To Love and to Serve in All Things.” Participants worked in silence in the old olive grove, ate in the shade of a few pine trees, bathed in the sea, encountered the Blessed Sacrament in the Tent of Meeting, enjoyed sunrises and sunsets, helped each other during storms. With the help of the daily mass and spiritual encouragement offered by Father Tomislav Špiranec SJ and Father Hrvoje Mravak SJ, the exercitants practiced finding the presence of God in small things. The exercitants themselves said that the most helpful thing was the silence and daily conversations with their spiritual companions who would help them remain in those experiences where they met God. Spiritual companions say that the whole eight-day retreat can be summed up in one question: “Where was God?” and one answer: “Remain there!” According to evaluations, there seems to be no one who has not met God. All of this is a further piece of evidence for the truth of the claim that God spends his summer in Modrave.
On July 30, Jesuits from the Croatian Province together with lay associates have launched a new web portal on Ignatian spirituality – ignacije.hr. The website presents the knowledge and practice of Ignatian spirituality to the men and women of today who are confronted with various challenges and needs in their lives. In addition to a large number of articles on the Ignatian tradition, the website contains stimulating and educational video-material, theological texts, meditations, and practical Ignatian advice for a dynamic spiritual life. Various questions are treated: prayer, decision-making, spiritual accompaniment, spiritual exercises, discernment, and other topics related to Ignatian spirituality. Furthermore, the portal offers material that explains how to live Ignatian spirituality in practice. Finally, it introduces the reader to the activity of Pope Francis as a contemporary example of how to apply the knowledge of the life and works of St. Ignatius. The website is intended for all those who want to raise the quality, maturity, and authenticity of their spiritual life.
Since the very beginning of the confinement due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Jesuits in Croatia turned eagerly to the online ministry. The first additional proposal for the 15th anniversary of the Croatian version of the "Sacred Space" website was Eucharistic transmissions and then the guided examen live via Facebook. For the last four weeks, every evening at 9:30 pm, a Jesuit (scholastics and priests) or an Ignatian collaborator (lay people, diocesan priests) has been conducting 15 minutes of exams live on Facebook. The aim of this and other proposals is to support the spiritual life of people in confinement with the richest elements of the Ignatian tradition. There are also "murmuratio" interviews and an online course on discernment. Finally, final preparations have been made to propose an individual online spiritual accompaniment to health care workers (doctors, nurses, technical staff) to support and empower them in their ministry and work with Covid-19 patients.