Introduction by Bishop Msgr. Ratko Peric
the Homily by the Franciscan Provincial Fr. Tomislav Pervan, OFM
AT THE FUNERAL MASS
Msgr RATKO PERIC
BISHOP OF MOSTAR-
THE FUNERAL MASS, NOVEMBER 26, 2000
THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Peace to you!
Dear Provincial Fr. Tomislav, dear Pastor Fr. Ivan, brother concelebrating priests, dear brothers and sisters,
We offer this Holy Mass for the soul of the deceased Fr. Slavko Barbaric, member of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province, to which I express from the bottom of the heart my human and Christian compassion, as well as to all the members of the family he is coming from.
In front of human death, our death or the death of our dear ones, each one of us stands with a shaken heart, puzzled mind and sad eye, but God has the right to call from this world to Himself, into the eternal home, whomever He wants, whenever He wants, from any place He wants and in the way He wants. He does not consult anyone about our death; He does not release anyone from death. He is the Creator of our body and of our soul, the absolute Master of time and of eternity, of these material spaces and of spiritual spheres, and this is why we all stand in front of God in an attitude of humility and of faith.
In front of God’s call, all human comments and stories stand still. Only remaining is the answer to be given by the one who is called, and our human intercession through this sacrifice of Jesus before the merciful Father from haven. May Christ the King, whose feast we celebrate today and to whom we offer this Holy Mass, receive the soul of the deceased priest Fr. Slavko; may he reward him for his good deeds and forgive him all that he has failed to do. Let us also repent for having failed to do good, and for all bad thoughts, words and deeds, which were not in accord with the God’s law.
TOMISLAV PERVAN, OFM,
OF THE FRANCISCANS OF HERZEGOVINA,
THE FUNERAL MASS, 26OF NOVEMBER 2000
“OSTENDE MIHI, DOMINE, VIAS TUAS ET SEMITAS TUAS EDOCE ME”
“MAKE ME KNOW YOUR WAYS, O LORD, TEACH ME YOUR PATHS”
Father Bishop, dear Franciscan brothers and priests, dear mother Lucia, brothers and sisters of our deceased Fr. Slavko, dear relatives and friends, dear faithful, dear pilgrims and our dear Fr. Slavko!
When they called me yesterday from the parishoffice of Medjugorje about which readings and prayers of the faithful to take for your funeral mass, I said simply:Let all the readings be from the Feast of Christ the King from year A, and the prayers of the faithful from the breviary for the feast with application to the deceased.I think that you would have agreed with that yourself if anyone had asked you which readings to take because the first one from the prophet Ezekiel talks about pastors, the second one from First Corinthians talks about the final victory of Christ over death when in the end everything is transformedso that God may be all in all,and the gospel passage talks about the final separation before the Lord’s judgment seat when the Lord himself will separate people into two camps, depending on their attitude toward the little, toward the least, toward those for whom no one has either heart or soul.
At this place I would, first of all, like to express my great thanks and gratitude, in the name of my Province and in my own name, for the countless expressions of sympathy, the telegrams, the e-
If I personally wanted to underline this life with a biblical thought, then for a guiding theme on Fr. Slavko’s life I would take that prayer of the psalmist quoted above. That was Fr. Slavko’s life wish: a prayer for the Lord to show him his ways, to walk in his paths, the paths of the Gospel and the way of conversion and religious pedagogy. Always to be in the school of our Lord and our Lady, in the Lord’s ways and footsteps, every day searching out a new lesson.
For all of us this death is an unexpected shock. This death is premature, as the psalmist would say, in the midst of my days, at the peak of human strength. If for the psalmist the number of our days is seventy years, and eighty if we are strong, then these fifty five years of Fr. Slavko fall short of today’s normal span of human life that people commonly expect to live on this earth.However, in this case I can freely say, with complete confidence, from my own experience, but also with your approval, that here before us there lies a life that, humanly speaking, filled up not just one, but three life spans. Not two, but three, because this life knew no fatigue, no letup, no rest. He never went to bed before midnight, and he never saw the sun come up in his room. As the psalmist says, he always prayed: Awake, my soul; awake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn. and in truth he would wake the dawn, with his prayer, his pilgrimage every day to the Hill of Apparition or to Cross Mountain. Day after day, year after year, in every kind of weather, he got up before the rest, he went out to pray. He used to say that the only time in the day left for him personally and as a priest was that time in the morning when, on awaking, he would go out to his mountains where also his all too early death took place, simply, a paralysis of the heart.
His heart could not hold out any longer. And Fr. Slavko had a heart that gave itself away to the end. He did not even have time to think about himself, about his own health, about sickness. He never complained about anything that bothered him, even though his health was fragile, especially when cold weather, flu and various infections came and acted negatively on his immunological system. He did not know how to take time out for himself from the unfinished business he undertook that daily drained him, and in that way, carrying his cross, Medjugorje’s cross already for twenty years, he brought it to his and to our Cross Mountain and there under the Lord’s cross he left his cross for it to be glorified in eternity. This Cross Mountain of his up which he regularly climbed in every kind of weather, together with pilgrims so they could have an experience of Tabor beneath the cross, was transformed into his Tabor: Calvary and Tabor, Cross Mountain and Tabor were in Fr. Slavko remolded into what Calvary was for Jesus according to John’s gospel: the final glorification of the Son of God. When I am raised up, I will draw all to myself... Father, you have glorified my name… The cross like a final victory, the cross for which Tabor was a foreshadowing. …Lord it is good for us to be here... And Slavko stayed there, beneath that vowed cross, on Cross Mountain, bearing their crosses, of countless pilgrims, the crosses of Medjugorje, the crosses of his people, of the Church and of this Province. He passed away just like his Lord did. Not on a couch or a bed, not surrounded by brethren or closest loved ones, but under the cross, on the cold rock of Hercegovina. How many are the symbols in that death? Fr. Slavko: You brought your cross here beneath the Lord’s cross, you left it there, so that thereby in your own death you too would draw us all here in this great number: the local Bishop, the entire Province, so great a number of other brother priests, of the faithful, of pilgrims who covered thousands of kilometers to be able to say to you a “Thank you and good-
Dear brothers and sisters!
What is there to say in this place about this life fulfilled? I have known him from way back, as far as 1961. I met him the first time at the first mass of Fr. Dobroslav Stojic and Fr. Gojko Musa on St. Stephen’s day in 1961. I had then already finished the first year of high school at the seminary in Visoko and he had just reported for the seminary. We got to know each other. That skinny lad told me he was accepted in the seminary and that he is going to Dubrovnik.After that we grew up and were formed together in this Province, we went together, supported each other, worked together, worked side by side, especially during the time I was pastor here in Medjugorje, through those six lead-
The great French thinker and writer Leon Bloy, a convert and zealous Catholic, gave expression to a wonderful thought. About it the first woman-
He found inspiration in Christ and in Francis. Christ who never wrote anything, who only sowed the word that his disciples wrote down. Christ knew that only some falls on fertile soil and in Fr. Slavko’s life that word was fulfilled till the end. It fell on the fertile soil of the faith, of the heart, of the tradition from which he imbibed in the family home and it bore fruit a hundredfold.
Then the image of Francis that enthused him. Francis also like Christ, the teacher of us all. Francis, the greatest among the great, that one who threw his expensive suit down on the head of his father, a wealthy textile dealer, that one who loved poverty for the sake of poverty. That was also for our Fr. Slavko a daily inspiration: not to have anything, to give everything away, to be like Paul, all things to all men, that I might save some for Christ. He had so to say pockets that were always tattered, he gave out left and right, without asking who it is and who is what. He passed the test of faith in today’s gospel reading because love for man and God were embodied in his person. He wanted to be a ray of light in the night of this world. Fr. Slavko had in himself a drive toward the Transcendental, toward the Eternal. We know that a few rays do not disperse the night, that a few waves do not raise or stir up the ocean, but if a man like our Fr. Slavko marvels at a flower or the piece of bread that he distributes to the poor, then the world is already changing for the better. That is exactly what today’s gospel tells us about the final encounter with the Lord Jesus on judgment day, something that Fr. Slavko understood literally and lived.
Had the Lord sent word: Listen, Fr. Slavko, tomorrow you shall die, I believe that he would not have for one moment stopped doing what he did every day, because everything that he did had only one aim: To glorify God, to serve him. He would not have taken any kind of time-
The thought of death should also make another dimension present to all of us: that is, one lives a short time and it is necessary to leave behind us clear signs, signals, road signs and directions for love. Traces that others gladly remember, tracks and ways on which others can pass. Jesus, knowing that his time had come, and because he loved his own who he had taken from the world, loved them to the end, took a towel and basin and washed his disciples’ feet. The feet are man’s most soiled members. In his love Jesus touched dirty but also wounded human feet, he touched the Achilles’ heel of every person. What is there still to say about the tracks that Fr. Slavko left behind him? He went through this world doing good, proclaiming Jesus Christ, preaching the Gospel, celebrating the Eucharist, adoring Christ in the Eucharist and on the cross, touching the sore spots, the Achilles’ heels.
However, Fr. Slavko did not just stay with words. He poured words off into deeds, forgetting himself. He poured himself out to the end precisely for those who had the most need of help. He was both a spiritual and material helper, a companion to so many. Beyond numbers. He left his trail, indelible, into himself he poured the word of Jesus: “As the Father has loved me, so I also love you.” And “No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.”
Fr. Slavko laid down his life for everyone, above all he loved those that nobody else loved, the deserted and the abandoned who sin and human hatred had terribly wounded. He consoled, he healed wounds, he helped, he accepted. He forgot himself. And therefore he went away too soon because he spread himself out everywhere.
Our dear Fr. Slavko! We are grateful to God that we had you. We are grateful to him that he called you to our Franciscan community. We are grateful to him for the gifts with which he endowed you and that you utilized to the maximum. We are grateful to your family for giving you to our Province in which you will be one of its shining figures. We believe that in you we have in heaven both intercessor and helper, a healer of all those wounds that oppress this people and this Church, and at the same time also a reconciler who implores Christ=s peace, the peace of Christ the King for us all.
We are confident that you have been able to meet the Lord, face to face, eye to eye, when you came before his throne, just like today’s gospel that is read on the feast of Christ the King also tells us. You went through his school of serving, not of ruling, of giving away, not of keeping, of extreme poverty, not of wealth. And therefore we are confident that he is your reward.
And countless people after meeting with you will be able to say: “Thank you, Lord, that there existed such a being as Fr. Slavko. Thanks to that being through which God has loved me.” And you, Fr. Slavko, were able in your life to say affirmatively: “There exist such beings through whom I have fallen in love with God, through whom God has become closer to me, Jesus and Mary.”
You burned yourself out in the service of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the service of her presence here and in the whole world. You were the messenger and the propagator of her piety which for you was always Christocentric. We are confident that the Church of Christ will never forget that about you. St. Jerome expressed it this way: “It is not necessary to lament over the dead, but to be thankful that we lived with them and that we are still always connected to them. We believe that they are in God, and whoever is in God, is one connected with the whole family of God.” With that thought I express my sympathy to your mother Lucia, your brothers, your sisters, and all your relatives. And I thank your house for giving you to us and that we had you.
And finally, our dear Fr. Slavko, I would ask you for one thing: Forgive us all if in our eyes or from our viewpoint you were not understood. You were and you wanted all the way to be vir catholicus, apostolicus, franciscanus, vir Croatahercegoviniensis, that is, a man catholic, apostolic, Franciscan, a Croat from Hercegovina. You went in front of us, often misunderstood. You thought beyond the rest, just like that mythical Prometheus, that one who thinks ahead and thinks up something new. One thing, however, remains plain and clear, namely, that word of Christ: By their deeds you shall know them. Your work is visible, permanent because it is woven and built on prayer, on your knees, in search of God’s will through the signs of the times. You went away ahead of us, but you remain always connected to us, in our hearts. Therefore, once again, thank you for everything and may you rest in the peace of your Lord, in the shadow of the Church of Medjugorje, Cross Mountain and the Hill of Apparition. Amen.
ON BEHALF OF FRANCISCAN FRIARS OF MEDJUGORJE
On Friday, after having prayed the Way of the Cross with parishioners and with pilgrims on the Križevac, one of many hundreds ofVia crucisbecame for brother SlavkoVia lucis, the Way of the Light. For all of us, it was first unbelievable, and then a choc. Brother Slavko has quietly died in his office, on the Križevac.
Yes, it is true, in his office on the Križevac. We spoke often among us, and in front of him, that he would probably die either on the Podbrdo (the Apparition Hill) or on the Križevac. If he had the choice of the place of his death, he would have certainly chosen Podbrdo or Križevac. In his death, the Lord has accorded to him a little bit of the human justice comprehensible for us, human beings. These two hills were his office, his working desk, all his furniture and his preferred place of prayer on the peaks of the mountains. Here, the Lord and Our Lady were so close to him, so alive, so human and so fully divine.
For the rest, I can only give thanks.
Thank you for having traced the path for the Queen of peace who wants to lead us to her Son.
Thank you for having thought the whole world how to pray and how to fast, thank you for having prayed and fasted yourself so much.
Thank you for having thought us how to do good and how to love men, and without any exception.
The order of values in the life of brother Slavko was clear: God and his affairs, Our Lady and her affairs in this parish, love of his Croatian country. He treated his private affairs when he had time, if he had time.
He was the friend of war orphans, of widows and of prisoners, he defended those who were rejected and lost, those whom we prefer to avoid (such a group brought you today here, before the altar), he was the doctor for those whom all men and all specialists have abandoned. You have hope and offered a chance to those to whom ordinary this is not given. And, what a miracle! You were ordinary right. For such people you never hesitated to knock on every door. And doors opened to you.
In only about fifty years, you lived several very filled lives.
Dear brother Slavko, your life was marked not only by success: you received many strokes. I know well how much you were hurt in those last years, particularly in those last times. You were stricken by those who were close and by those who were far. I know how much you were hurt and how much you suffered. Sometimes you wanted to avoid strokes, but excepted some short remarks, you have abandoned everything to the time and to the Just Judge.
Forgive us for not having always be able to follow your path, for not having always appreciated what you were doing. You were often too fast in your ideas and your projects. You were already half way to the aim when we realized that it was possible. You were regularly one step in front of us.
Now as you are gone and born for heaven, we miss you so much. But we thank you for having answered to Lord’s and Our Lady’s call. The Lord’s will has the last word. We accept it.
Dear parishioners and pilgrims, during the months to come, people will come and ask: “Where is brother Slavko, is he home?” Tell them: “Yes, he is at home! Eternal rest grant him, o Lord!”
Fr. MATE DRAGICEVIC
IN THE NAME OF HIS NATIVE PARISH OF CERIN
The parish of Cerin is in sorrow and cries for it’s great man, it’s son, brother Slavko Barbaric, who has left us so suddenly.
I said: a great man!
He is great,
because he has prayed inceasingly
because he announced fearlessly the Word of God and Our Lad’y messages all over the world.
If St. Francis of Xavier, as missionary in the Far East, baptized more than 40000 persons, brother Slavko showed the path to God to millions
because he was the most great benefactor of small children and orphans, of the sick, of the drug-
because he has a sympathetic, franciscan soul, stile and behavior,
because, like St. Francis, he loved all creatures and mother Earth; he was an ecologist of our time with the slogan: “More flowers, less rubbish”,
because he was a doctor in theology, but not of a paper theology, rationalist theology, but of the theology of the heart, and this doctorate he has obtained here, in the school of Our Lady. His theology of the heart was expressed through the written and through the spoken word, in the way that those who read him or listened to him could not remain indifferent.
because he traced again and again the path of the triangle designed here in Medjugorje by Our Lady, uniting the Apparition Hill, the Krizevac and the Church, he walked, he prayed and he spoke, and transposed this triangle into the hearts of men. On the Apparition Hill, Our Lady invites to the knowledge of oneself; on the prayer of the Way of the Cross, she calls us to abandon whatever is negative and sinful in us, and in the Church, she indicates to us the sacraments of healing and of spiritual refreshment: Holy Confession and Holy Mass. Brother Slavko was untiring in designing this triangle in the hearts of pilgrims.
But the great man of the peaks of the mountains must not descend, but must continue to climb. This is what happened to our brother Slavko. While he was climbing the Krizevac praying the Way of the Cross of the Lord, he climbed the top oh his own Calvary, and the Lord elevated him to himself.
Dear mother, brothers and sisters, members of the family and friends of brother Slavko,
We are all together sorrowful, but we say him this farewell full of gratitude, because God has found in our parish a family to rise a great man. Full of pride, we say a farewell to brother Slavko, because he was that great man, and full of a firm hope that Our Lady, to whom he was so devoted, told him: “Welcome, my son, in the arms of the Father and of the Mother, and thank you for having answered to my call!”
Dear brother Slavko, thank you for everything! May this Croatian earth of Medjugorje be light for you! Rest in the peace of God!
Fr. DIETRICH VON STOCKHAUSEN
ON BEHALF OF PRIESTS FROM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD WHO CAME AS PILGRIMS TO MEDJUGORJE
Reverend, dear brother Slavko!
Today, at your coffin, I want to thank you on behalf of so many German-
Your sudden death on the Križevac, between the 13and the 14station of the Way of the Cross, made us see clearly that our loving Father in Heaven has accepted the sacrifice of your life, together with Mary, who offered Her dead Son to the Father at the 13Station. Every day you climbed one of the two hills, Križevac or Podbrdo, early in the morning, the rosary always in your hand, and this is how you began your workday. Also the day of your burial, the feast of Christ the King, is yet another sign for us that Christ, the King and Lord of your life, has accepted your life’s work, and that Mary, the Queen of Peace, was allowed to lead you into the kingdom of Peace of Her Son. In the message of yesterday, our heavenly Mother announces to us that you have been reborn for heaven. And thus you have, of course, chosen and been granted the better part of life; for this, we rejoice with you with all our heart because -
Once again, a cordial thank you for you friendship, your love and your exemplary life. See you in Heaven!
ON BEHALF OF THE CHILDREN OF THE “MOTHER'S VILLAGE”
Dear brother Slavko,
We are still waiting for you!
On Wednesday, after the Way of the Cross, you were supposed to come to the Mother’s Village. I don’t know whether you wanted to see someone in particular or all of us. But now, we are all here in this row full of sorrow. Even little Maja from Bjelovar has come, Boris and Toni are here, and – what a surprise – they are silent, and aunty Ružica adds a Hail Mary for you while praying her rosary.
Friday night, we were up for long time, wondering why you didn’t come and where you had gone, and we saw our religious sisters keeping a long silence instead of giving us an answer.
Some of us still cannot realize what has happened, some will not even remember your face, but all of us are full of sorrow and a little angry, and we all have the same desire, to tell you a big thank you.
Thank you, brother Slavko, for having had the idea to create the Mother’s Village; thank you for not having been afraid to receive us, as different as we are. Thank you for teaching us how to be courageous, asking us to animate the decades of the rosary on the Podbrdo while we were still learning how to pray.
Thank you for letting us see that toys have colors, that Nutella is sweet, and that it takes two persons to see-
As short as the instant was that death took you away from us, as short was the instant we needed to understand your love and your sacrifice. We know now that each little piece of paper thrown on the road, each bad note in school and each disobedience towards aunty were an offense. This is why, speaking these words over your open tomb, we make a vow of fidelity to your word and to your work.
While humanly in such a deep sorrow, we feel as if you were asking us: “My children, where is your faith?” In faith, we see you united to our Mother and to your Mother Mary, and we suffer less; and this is our only hope, because, truly, through your leaving, the Mother’s Village, our orphanage, became itself a big orphan.
If we were to continue to wait for you, we would undoubtedly be overwhelmed by fear. We prefer to ask you to wait for us, now that you have reached the heavenly sanctuary. And, while we imagine you walking down the road, slightly bent forward, turning your back to us, for the first time we do not say, “Brother Slavko, good bye”, but, with a wounded heart, with a pure children’s soul and full of enthusiasm, we say, “See you and thank you, our dear brother Slavko!”
A STUDENT,ON BEHALF OF THE FUND OF “THE FRIENDS OF TALENTS”
Our dear father, brother Slavko,
On behalf of the Fund “Friends of Talents” Medjugorje, on behalf of ten generations of students for whom you obtained thousands of stipends, whom you sustained in their spiritual growth – we give you an infinite thank you.
We bid you farewell, the creator of the idea and founder of the Fund, our respected and beloved President, our brother Slavko.
Dear friend, the reality of your physical departure is painful and difficult, but the synopsis of your life, marked by love and giving to your brothers, is the faith in Christ’s ways: You made your Way of the Cross, you have fallen asleep under the cross.
At this moment, it is not possible to enumerate all good, great and noble deeds you did for this Fund and for us students; we are not even aware of their extent.
We are convinced that the times to come will enable everyone to realize the nobility and the importance of your deeds. We admit that, at this moment, we are not conscious of the immensity of what we have lost, but we would like to pronounce the vow, to follow the way you have shown us, the way of the Queen of Peace.
Your collaborators from the Fund and all of us students pronounce these words of gratitude at your bier, asking the Heavenly Father to give you the place you have merited in the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to allow your noble spirit to remain with us.
The poet A.B. Šimić says:
“You do not perceive my return and my closeness
in the night, when the silent moonlight hums in your ear…
And when you see the dark shadow moving at dusk,
At the other side of the quiet dark water,
I walk straight and solemn,
As if I were near you.”
You will remain forever in our hearts and in our prayers.
ON BEHALF OF THE COMMUNITY “CENACOLO”
We were all surprised by the sudden death of brother Slavko Barbarić, on Mount Križevac in Medjugorje, after the prayer of the Way of the Cross. Such a death, so similar to Jesus’ death, is our only consolation, and gives us hope that the Lord has chosen the right time.
Thank you, brother Slavko, for all you have done for the needy, for the poor, for students, for families and for so many, many others.
Thank you for having protected life, for having radiated peace and love, for having always had time for a talk. Thank you for your prayer, so concrete, so strong and so persevering, for all long vigils and adorations on your knees, thank you for having been an example.
But, most of all, thank you for your daily and untiring witnessing of Our Lady’s messages during these eighteen years since you are in Medjugorje.
We know that we have now a big protector and intercessor in heaven.
MAYOR OF ČITLUK
Sorrowful and mournful assembly, dear brother Slavko,
With a sorrowful heart, with a sad and shaken soul, I bid farewell on behalf of the community of Čitluk to our departed, and I give him a big thank you and recognition. Our deceased was born here, he spent a big part of his life here without sparing himself, and finally he spent himself till the end: afire, burning, and finally burned out. In this community, he sleeps now in eternal peace.
Since Heaven opened above the sky of Bijakovići and Medjugorje, since Our Lady started to speak, brother Slavko -
How many have heard about us thanks to him?
How many have helped us thanks to him?
Who could ever count them?
On Thursday, we spoke in the Mother’s Village with donators about the project of a home for aged persons.
Brother Slavko, you loved Medjugorje! You were in love with Križevac!
On Križevac, you breathed your last breath and you breathed out your soul.
In Medjugorje, you have found eternal peace and rest.
Thank you for every word!
Thank you for every counsel!
Thank you for every impulse!
Thank you for every help received thanks to your merit!
Thank you for every good deed!
Thank you for having made your country and your people known to the world!
Brother Slavko, now as you are in Heaven, do not forget the needs and hardships of your region, of your country and of your nation.
Sleep the sleep of a great, committed and untiring worker and of a just man.
BID FR. SLAVKO FAREWELL IN THE NAME OF ALL THE VISIONARIES
Our dear brother, Fr. Slavko. How could we not remember all these years which we spent together: each of our conversations, each of our prayers together and everything we have gone through together? How could we not remember each of your sacrifices and each of your battles for us? How could we not remember your goodness and your love for us? You often said to us, ’Do you know that I love you?’
We felt that love so often and in so many different ways. We remember so many of your words. Often after the apparition, you would ask us, ‘How is Our Lady?’ You, dear brother, are now with Her -
We thank you, dear brother, for your support which we so often needed and which you gave us and every moment. We thank you for every advice you have given us when we needed it the most. Thank you for leading us through our spiritual life and for helping us with prayer in our personal lives.
Thank you for each of your visits to our homes which brought so much blessing and joy into our families.
Thank you for each game you played with our children who knew how to recognize a real and true friend on their own.
Today, dear brother, we are crying but, at the same time, we are rejoicing because you are with Her whom you loved immeasurably, the one you gave your life to – Our Lady. Your work, goodness and love will forever live in us and you, dear brother, always pray for us and always watch over us.
It is now, dear brother, that we say to you what you always said to us, ‘do you know, brother, how much we love you?’
Your Jakov, Ivan, Mirjana, Ivanka, Vicka and Marija.
SPEECH OF THE PARISH PRIEST OF MEDJUGORJE
DR. FR. IVAN SESAR
Dear brothers and sisters, our dear brother Slavko!
No one of us who knew you a little more, or who lived near you, needed to ask you where you intended to be on Sunday afternoon: all of us knew very well that this time was strictly reserved for the prayer of the rosary on Podbrdo. Neither rain, nor sun, nor wind, nor storm, nor anything else could distract you from this intention. Today, Podbrdo is empty and sad, waiting for its most frequent and dearest guest. But you are not there! You are not there, because it has pleased the Lord of life and death to receive your soul under the cross on Friday, when, once again, you climbed the steep Križevac, meditating the suffering and the passion of your Master and Savior Jesus Christ. How symbolic! You loved the cross, you carried it untiringly, you venerated it regularly and you breathed your last breath at the foot of the cross on Friday on Križevac.
Brother Slavko was born in the season when spring replaces winter, on March 11, 1946, in Dragicina, parish of Cerin. His father’s name was Marko, his mother’s name is Luca, born Stojic. He finished elementary school in 1961 in Cerin. He attended classical High School at Dubrovnik from 1961 to 1965, where he made his baccalaureate. He first received the Franciscan habit in Humac, July 14, 1965. He studied theology in Visoko, Sarajevo, Graz and Freiburg. He made his solemn vows on September 17, 1971, in La Verna, where St. Francis -
Thanks to his knowledge of the main European languages and his immense love for the Mother of God, in spite of the many obligations he had in the parishes he was affiliated with, brother Slavko consecrated every free moment to work with pilgrims in Medjugorje. He was officially transferred to Medjugorje in September 1983, where he remained until September 1985; from then until September 1988, he was parish vicar at Blagaj, and he used every free moment to be in Medjugorje to work untiringly with the numerous pilgrims who came to this place. From 1988 to 1991, he was assistant master of novices at Humac, where he was also parish vicar.
At the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when most of the elderly friars went as refugees to Tucepi, the problem appeared as to how to ensure confessions at Medjugorje. With the verbal permission of + fra Drago Tolj, the Provincial at that time, fra Slavko moved to Medjugorje and remained there until his death, which surprised and moved all of us on Friday, at 3.30 p.m.
Someone once wrote that it does not matter how long one lives, but how one lives. If this is the real criterion for life, it can be confirmed with certitude that brother Slavko has lived at least three human lives. He was un untiring worker without a set working time and a working place: you could see him talking to pilgrims; one hour later, he would be consoling the sorrowful, who were looking for him every day; then he would be hurrying to the Mothers’ Village, the institution he founded personally and which gave him so much joy, an institution that cares today for more than 60 persons, mainly war orphans or children from broken families.
It is difficult to enumerate everything our dear brother Slavko was doing, for that, we would need much, much time. Hundreds of condolences from all over the world, which we are receiving these days, confirm it. In one word, he was a child when with a child, he suffered with those who suffer, he was an intellectual with intellectuals, he was a mother for those who were lost and abandoned, he gathered around him those who were rejected. He was ‘addicted’ to those who needed help. We should at least mention what everybody knows: he regularly welcomed the rising sun on Križevac or Podbrdo, and midnight found him still awake. Nobody ever saw him sitting at the computer and writing, and still he was one of most fruitful authors of spiritual books. His books have been translated in more than twenty languages and more than 20 millions copies have been printed all over the world.
Many considered him a wonder, and he really was a wonder. This is precisely why his leaving is so painful: wonders do not happen every day, nor are such great men born very often.
My dear brother Slavko! I couldn’t dream that we would be separated so quickly, I never thought that I would be the one to read yourcurriculum vitae; it is considered that pearls do not have acurriculum vitae but acurriculum gloriae; they live forever, because they are not found but given. But it pleased the Lord of life and death precisely at this moment to call you to Himself, and we accept it as His will. You leave behind your big projects, and it will be difficult to realize them without you; but here, over your open tomb where you will rest in peace, I promise that we will at least try to continue where you stopped, because I know that this is your greatest desire.
Rest in the peace of the Lord, and may the good and merciful God reward you for every good deed. Amen.