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Bosnia Tag

 

ACN Project of the Week—Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia

29.11.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eastern Europe, Pastoral aid, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Religious formation

Project of the Week—Bosnia

Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo

By ACN International, Adapted by ACN Canada
Published online – November 29, 2019

Catholics are a minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina—now at a bare 14% of the population, and falling. This decline began during the Bosnian War (1992 to 1995) when half the Catholic population was expelled or forced to emigrate from the country. And with every new year, many continue their exodus as the future looks dim, owing to the discrimination they face when seeking employment, in attending schools and in regular social life. Catholic bishops have been complaining for years that Catholic Croat families who would otherwise be willing to return are not receiving the support they are entitled to. At the same time, a growing Islamization of the society is very noticeable, with the building of numerous new mosques.

 

The Catholic Church continues to work hard for a better future, through its reconciliation work, its schools and its charitable work, all of which are open to people of all ethnic groups. At the same time, the Church strives to offer steady employment opportunities that will provide families with some prospect for the future. One beautiful example of reconciliation work is the John Paul II Youth Centre in Sarajevo, offering a range of initiatives for promoting interfaith and interdenominational dialogue.

Spiritual Retreats, Pilgrimages and Interfaith Dialogue

Each year thousands of young people benefit from a broad range of programs offered by the centre. Their enthusiasm remains as they return with great energy to their own parishes to work with a renewed faith for a better future. The centre also offers employment, with 10 full-time positions and 10 part-time positions, providing these men and women with a steady income and a future for their families. An additional 300 volunteers help out as needed. Training in leadership is available along with courses in spiritual exercises for confirmation candidates, volunteers, altar servers and other types of youth groups. An ecumenical program is in place for young people of different faiths to learn about shared responsibility and how to create a better future in the society in which they live. Those attending come not only from the archdiocese of Sarajevo (Vrhbosna) itself, but from all over the country.

Other big events are have been organized, such as a large youth pilgrimage in May to the Shrine of Our Lady in Kondzilo,  which was attended again this year by well over 3,000 young people. A music festival, with modern Christian music, and a young people’s Way of the Cross procession giving hundreds of youth from individual parishes the opportunity to gather together in shared faith.

 

ACN recognizes the valuable work done by this youth centre named for the great Pope, Saint John Paul II. The Saint who held such great affection for young people, established the very first World Youth Days during his pontificate. This year we are helping once again, with a promised contribution of $37,500.

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

Feature Story – Bosnia: The impact of the Sister’s love in an orphanage

29.08.2016 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Bosnia Herzegovina, By Rolf Bauerdick, Feature Story, FORMATION, Religious formation, Sisters

Bosnia

“We are here for the children that need us.”

When Katarina leafs through the photo albums from the last two decades with Sisters Admirata and Manda, her joy is tinged by melancholy. The photographs keep memories of Katarina’s happy childhood days alive.

However, the realization that the sheltered days of her youth will soon be over is ever present. Katarina is the oldest child at the “Egipat House” orphanage  belonging to the Sisters Servants of the Child Jesus.

Her parents were refugees during the Bosnian war.  Uprooted, psychologically ill and no longer able to manage day-to-day life. They did not take care of Katarina and her older brother Stipo and left them with their grandmother. “The old lady was completely overwhelmed by the task of raising them,” Sister Admirata recalls, “and so we took the siblings in here.” Katarina was two years old when she came to live with the nuns. Now she is nineteen and getting ready to leave her familiar home. “I am a little nervous about how life will be outside of the home,” she says. Sister Admirata reassures her charge. She knows “Katarina is well-equipped for the grown-up world.”

 

A painting of Mgr. Josip Stadler (1843 – 1918). He's the founder of the orphanage and the Congregation. In addition, he was consider by many as « father of the poors » in his country.

A painting of Msgr. Josip Stadler (1843 -1918),  Considered by many in his country as ” Father of the poor.”

Admirata Lučić is the provincial superior of the religious order, which runs an orphanage and a kindergarten at its convent in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. In the hall, hangs a life-sized painting commemorating Archbishop Josip Stadler (1843 – 1918), to whom the convent owes its existence and its spiritual foundation. Josip Stadler not only founded the religious order in 1890, but also made himself the advocate of neglected children in need by founding exemplary orphanages. At the time, the Sisters chose to give their convent the name “Egypt” to recall the flight of the Infant Jesus from the tyrant, Herod.

 

Today, the Sisters can look back on a history that was both rich in blessings, but also tempestuous, and one which, completely in contradiction to the benign spirit of Josip Stadler, was also quite often shaped by destruction and hatred. The order was expropriated in 1949 under the dictatorship of the Communist party in the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. The convent building was confiscated, the children taken away from the nuns and placed in state-run facilities. “Faith no longer played a role in their upbringing,” Sister Admirata says. “You were no longer allowed to speak to the children of and about God.”In 1992, at the beginning of the Bosnian War, the Serbian military bombed the building into the ground. But, it rose again from out of the ruins.

 

Finding solutions together

Admirata and her twelve sister nuns, who are assisted in their everyday lives by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), are happy to have founded the first post-war orphanage in Bosnia in 1999 where today, 55 boys and girls attend kindergarten, while 19 children live full-time at the orphanage. Children who have lost their parents, or whose father and mother are unable to exercise their parental responsibility, have found in this place a home. Sister Admirata says, “However, we do put great stock in the fact that our kindergarten children not only come from difficult social environments, but also from intact backgrounds. We also have children of diplomats as well as from of middle-class families here.”

 

Katarina’s brother Stipo has already left the orphanage. He trained to become an auto mechanic and is now working for a church agricultural project in the Čardak region. After nine years of schooling, Katarina has also completed training to become a sales assistant and window dresser. “I hope to find a good job.” Her chances of finding work are good. The nuns are currently helping the young woman find an affordable place to live in Sarajevo, which is no easy task. However, Admirata exudes confidence, “we will find a solution together.”

 

Melissa, seven years old, and her brother Omer, eight years old. They are Muslims. In their work, the Sisters are helping and welcoming anyone who needs help, whit no limits about the confessions, like their founder tought.

Seven-year-old Melissa, and her eight-year-old brother Omer are Muslims. The Sisters welcome anyone who needs help, setting no limits on religious confession or background: exactly as did their founder.

Two Muslim children are new arrivals at the orphanage: seven-year-old Melissa and her brother Omer, who is one year older. Their mother moved away, leaving the two alone. Their father took another wife. Their siblings remained behind with their grandfather. Overwhelmed by the task of raising them, the old man went to the Servants of the Infant Jesus for help. His request was not in vain for today Omer and Melissa are attending first grade at the Catholic primary school and are flourishing in terms of their development. By accepting Muslim as well as Orthodox children at “Egipat House”, the Sisters are acting in full accordance with the philosophy upon which their order was founded. Josip Stadler was esteemed as the “Father of the Poor” by people of all religions and denominations. The Servants of the Infant Jesus also do not divide up the children by religious affiliation. “We are here for the children that need us,” Sister Admirata says.

 

Epilogue

Two days after speaking with them, the children and the Sisters are all in attendance at the ordination celebration to the priesthood of eight young men at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo. None can hide their joy, for they already knew some of these young men as seminarians.

 

June 2016: children are learning by playing and being love. This can happen because the Sisters receive a formation based on the Gospel. Thanks to you.

June 2016: children are learning through play and through the gift of love. This can only happen because the Sisters receive a formation based on the Gospel. And thanks to you!

 

Aid to the Church in Need supports the Sisters of the Servants of the Infant Jesus in the training of their novices. Last year, help was also given for the renovations of two convents that had suffered severe damage during  flooding in Bosnia.

 

By Rolf Bauerdick, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
Adaptation by Amanda Bridget Griffin