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.
Last month the Croatian Post has released a commemorative stamp in honour of Fr. Antun Cvek, member of the Croatian Province of the Society of Jesus who died in May 2019. The stamp was printed in 100 000 copies. Fr. Cvek was a great benefactor and friend of the sick and elderly people. He was ordained priest in 1974 but from 1969 till his death he was involved in caritative work and apostolate of elderly and sick people, those who were alone. In the Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Zagreb he founded a first group of people who helped him visiting those in need as well as a spiritual and prayer group as a support for such apostolate. From that small group developed a Catholic association called Kap dobrote (a Drop of goodness) as a support for those who were in need. His nick name was “The good spirit of Zagreb”, and he was also cofounder of the Foundation Biskup Lang. For his long, unselfish and caritative work Fr. Cvek received many awards and among them one of the highest Croatian state decorations.
The Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies in Zagreb. In the academic year 2018/2019, The University of Zagreb celebrates 350 years since its founding. The History of the University of Zagreb began on 23rd September 1669, when the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Hungary and Croatia Leopold I gave the Jesuit Academy in the free royal city of Zagreb a diploma, granting it the status and privileges of a university institution. The recognition was adopted by the Parliament of the Kingdom of Croatia on the November the 3rd 1671. Therefore, the University considers 1669 as the year of its founding and November the 3rd is celebrated as the University Day, while since 1671, the studies of philosophy, which started in 1662, operate legally as Neoacademia Zagrabiensis, a public institution of higher education. Jesuit education in modern Croatia continues that tradition. Our Faculty Day is on the 6th of November as the day when Jesuit, Fr. Takač delivered his first lecture in Philosophy. The Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies (Croatian acronym: FFRZ) was founded by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education on July 31st, 1989. The Jesuit philosophical studies that had existed from 1937 at the Jesuit College in Zagreb were thus raised to the rank of faculty education. Until 2016, the name of the Faculty was the Faculty of Philosophy of the Society of Jesus. The University of Zagreb accepted the Faculty of Philosophy of the Society of Jesus as its full member on July 29th, 2016 under the present name, the Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Studies. The Faculty offers programmes in two scientific fields in the humanities: philosophy and religious studies. The Faculty seeks to foster high standards in the relationship between teachers and students, arising from the Jesuit tradition and general Christian worldview, according to which the person of a student is at the centre of the teaching process, because he is “id quod est perfectissimum in tota natura”. Such an attitude was embedded by the Jesuits in their education system from the very beginning by their famous decree “Ratio Studiorum” from 1599, which is also the intent of the Bologna Process. Such a system allows for the rational foundation of philosophy itself and other areas of knowledge and worldviews, as well as theology as a science on religion. Such studies of this scope are not performed anywhere else in the Republic of Croatia and are therefore somewhat specific. They can be found, however, at major colleges and universities around the world. The study programme in religious studies is organised according to models from other world universities, including Catholic ones, whose vision strongly highlights dialogue with other religions, dialogue between Christian denominations, but also dialogue within society in general. The study programme in religious sciences is a unique study programme and the only one in Croatia that has its interdisciplinary scientific field within the field of humanities and therefore a unique value. This year we were honoured by Fr. General Arturo Sosa who visited our Province and Faculty as his contribution to this celebration. He also spoke about Universal Apostolic Preferences.
3D formation (in English 3S) is a three years program in Croatia for the integral development of human personality. The goal of the program is the formation of a young Christian offering to him/her an environment for personal development, growth in faith and responsible engagement in the society. 1st D stands for duh (in English: Spirit) and is directed to personal knowledge about himself/herself: Who are we and what can we offer to others? Which are our personal strengths and weaknesses. This includes group work and experiments. 2nd D stands for dušu (in English: Soul) offers the basics of Ignatian Spirituality and Retreats, working on our personal relationship with God. 3rd D stands for društvo (in English: Society) offers collaboration in different projects and associations in which someone can be effective for the other. Young people from 18 to 30 years old are involved in this program which starts this autumn. Photographs have been taken during last course which ended in June this year. The whole program is run by Jesuits who are involved in youth apostolate within the Student Catholic Academic Centre, based in the Palmotićeva community in Zagreb and around the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The program has been extended and will start also in two other cities: Osijek and Split. For more information: www.skac.hr Here are some testimonies of participants who finished the whole three years program: “This year has brought to me a lot of good things in every aspect of my life-in my relationship with my family, others and God. ‘The door’ toward merciful Jesus gradually has become more and more open when I started to know and accept myself better and have become a mature person.” “The whole program is very meaningful, and I have felt the working of the Holy Spirit throughout the whole year; every part of the program is special. I have noticed many changes in my life, especially I managed to deal with my fears which were deeply rooted in my life and prevented me from using my talents and being more open to Jesus and others. I feel free now.” “It is an excellent way which has helped me in my formation as a person and Christian and it has given me an opportunity to remain faithful to God and to live real values and virtues.” “You are loved and supported. This helps you to love and support others.”