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 – 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.
The Sacred Heart Jesuit church badly damaged. At approximately 6:24 a.m. CET on the morning 22nd of March 2020, a 5.4 and 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit Zagreb, Croatia, with an epicenter 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) north of Zagreb city centre. The maximum felt intensity was VII (Very strong) on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale. The earthquake was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest of which with a magnitude of 4.8. It was the strongest earthquake in Zagreb since the 1880 earthquake. Many buildings in the capital cracked and walls and rooftops were damaged. Streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of building entrances. A 15-year-old girl died after suffering severe injuries (she was a member of our Parish of the Sacred Heart), 28 others were injured, and 1000 of people had to leave their houses and flats. A strong earthquake has shaken the Croatian capital, Zagreb, bringing much of the population on to the streets after social distancing regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus had been put in place. Of the Jesuit Communities, the most damaged are the Sacred Heart Residence in Palmotićeva Street, which is also the seat of the Provincial Curia, and the old building of the St. Joseph’s College at Jordanovac Hill. There are many plaster falls, visible cracks in the walls and on the roofs. The level of damage to the building statics is yet to be assessed. The former Seminary building at Fratrovac Hill was less damaged, but still with some visible cracks. Newer buildings at Jordanovac and Fratrovac show minor damage. No Jesuit was injured. Some premises and the rooms of several brethren in Palmotićeva St. and Jordanovac College have been declared unsafe so we had to find alternative accommodation for them. The large Sacred Heart Basilica in Zagreb City Centre, a protected monument built in 1902, has suffered the worst damage. One part of the ceiling collapsed, while the rest of the ceiling remained unstable. The monumental organ has been saved because it has been out for restauration since December 2017. The reconstruction process is delayed by many aftershocks we are still experiencing. Also, the restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Croatia make it more complicated. However, the Croatian Jesuit Province and the Sacred Heart Parish have already started preparations for the reconstruction of the Sacred Heart Basilica.
At the beginning of December last year, the Jesuit journal "Renewed Life" celebrated its centenary. The first issue appeared in 1919 under the name "Life". When the communist regime came to power in 1945, the journal had to stop publishing. In 1971, the publication was restarted under the name "Renewed Life". The celebration was organized under the high sponsorship of the HAZU (the Croatian Academy of Science and Art), the Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the publisher, the Philosophical-Theological Institute of the Society of Jesus. First of all, the journal has a theological profile, also philosophical, with all disciplines related to it. For a long time, the journal tried to make a substantive contribution to solving the central questions concerning the human spirit in its historical path: at the beginning of the 20th century in the face of modernism's question about the relationship between faith and reason. In the second half of the century it addressed the central anthropological challenge about the nature, vocation and meaning of human life. Nowadays the magazine tries to work according to its subtitle "for Philosophy and Religious Sciences". The journal is intended for all those seeking "healthy spiritual food". It enables the dialogue between religion and ideas and problems of our time. That is why it is so unique.