84th regular session of the BK BiH

The bishops called for prudence and peace

Members of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina held their 84th regular session on July 13th and 14th in the premises of the Bishop's Ordinariate in Banja Luka. After that, they participated in the celebration of 50 years of priesthood of the Bishop of Banja Luka, Msgr. Franjo Komarica.

The session was held under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of Vrhbosna and the Apostolic Administrator of the Military Ordinariate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Msgr. Tomo Vukšić, president of the BK BiH, and all the members of this Bishop's Conference participated. Delegates of the Croatian and Slovenian Bishops' Conference, Msgr. Bože Radoš, bishop of Varaždin, and Msgr. Franc Šuštar, auxiliary bishop of Ljubljana, conveyed the fraternal support of the members of their conferences and referred to the most important church events in their countries.

Overview of activities and work reports

In the press release sent at the end of the session, it was pointed out that the bishops discussed the summaries submitted by the diocesan synod teams on the first stage of the three-year synod process of the XVI regular general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in the Vatican in October 2023 on the topic For the synod Church; fellowship, participation and mission.

The proposal for the summary of the BiH Bishops' Conference was also considered, and the bishops gave the necessary guidelines for its refinement, after which it will be submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. They expressed their gratitude to all those who actively and prayerfully joined the synod process in all diocesan communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Annual Report on the activities of Caritas BiH in 2021 and the activities it carried out according to its Statute and Strategic Plan was also presented at the session, which stated that the interest of partners and donors in financing the activities of this charitable institution has decreased, as well as that state funds only symbolically support its work and that most European Union funds are not available to Caritas BiH.

The bishops reflected on the Deacon Pastoral Year, which was conducted at the level of all diocesan communities and both Franciscan provinces in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the academic year 2021/2022, and thought about improving its implementation.

An invitation to believers for active participation

After giving the final guidelines for the celebration of the 5th Family Day in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they invited all members of their diocesan communities who are able to do so, especially the faithful from neighbouring parishes, to unite this year at the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, July 31st 2022 in the Church of the Holy Family in Kupres. They also encourage all parishes and other church communities to celebrate Family Day and the 2nd World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly on that Sunday.

On the initiative of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, the bishops invited all parishes and other church communities in all dioceses to organize adoration before the Most Holy on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14th 2022, in the evening as an expression of the closeness and solidarity of the entire Church in Europe united in prayers for war-torn Ukraine.

They also encouraged prudence and peace in this pre-election period in BiH and responsible participation in the elections as well as timely registration of those who need to do so.

The working part of the session was started by the bishops on both days with joint Holy Mass celebrations and ended with the prayer of the Divine Hour.

The session of the BK BiH ended on Thursday, July 14th, with the usual press conference in the premises of the Bishop's Ordinariate in Banja Luka, where Archbishop Vukšić and Bishop Komarica spoke. Among other things, Msgr. Vukšić was asked at the conference to comment on part of the report on the reduced interest of partners and donors in financing Caritas activities, who said that this directly affects the ability of this charitable body of the BK of Bosnia and Herzegovina to operate, but they compensate for this with voluntary contributions from believers and some other sources. When asked if the number of people seeking help from charitable institutions has increased, he answered that this is the case, not only with Catholic, but also with humanitarian institutions of other religious communities, as well as private or state ones. He said that they will do everything in their power to keep Caritas functioning.

Celebration of two golden jubilees

It is worth pointing out that on Friday, July 15th, members of the BK BiH participated in the celebration of the holiday of St. Bonaventura, the heavenly patron of the diocese of Banja Luka and cathedral. On that occasion, the Eucharistic celebration was led by the bishop of Banja Luka, Msgr. Franjo Komarica, who celebrated the golden jubilee with that Holy Mass - 50 years of priesthood, together with his long-time associate in the Bishop's Ordinariate, Msgr. Anto Orlovac. There were about 40 priests in the concelebration, and numerous nuns from various societies participated, among them the regional superior of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ Region Zagreb, sister Zdravka Leutar, whose sisters have been present in the Diocese of Banja Luka for decades, and the provincial superior of the Franciscan School Sisters of Christ the King of Bosnia and Croatia of the Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, sister Željka Dramac.

At the beginning of the Holy Mass celebration, Pope Francis' congratulation was read in Latin by the charge d'affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Msgr. Amaury Medina Blanco, and then in Croatian by chancellor of the Banja Luka Diocese, rev. Pero Ivan Grgić.

The appropriate sermon was delivered by the archbishop of Vrhbosna in peace, cardinal Vinko Puljić, pointing out at the beginning that 50 years of priestly life is a great reason to give glory to God and thank him. “Celebrating the Golden Mass is an opportunity, not only to thank God, which is, first and foremost, a duty, but a moment when a person sifts in his heart the path he has travelled and all that he has experienced and lived through. It is necessary for a person to look for what was a great achievement in priestly service”, said the archbishop in peace and referred to the feast of St. Bonaventura, recalling that when asked how he acquired such deep knowledge, that saint pointed to the cross of Christ, testifying that “every day he reads that book which he has not yet finished”. “From that book we learn the life lesson of love. Success in life lies in the secret of sacrifice in love. This is what the cross of Christ teaches us”, said cardinal Puljić, explaining that the path to saving souls requires a lesson in sacrifice and love, and that a follower of Christ must go through “the school of the cross where one learns obedience to God”.

At the end of the Holy Mass celebration, Bishop Komarica gave words of thanks, emphasizing that “every jubilee person knows very well that he owes his life and all his actions to the goodness of God and his many close friends - from parents, relatives, educators, teachers, friends and benefactors who out of love to God, helped him to remain on the path of fulfilling the order he received from God, his Creator and Saviour, to carry out in Christ's Church and on behalf of Christ's Church”.

Resident bishop since July 15th 1989.

Msgr. Franjo Komarica was born on February 3rd 1946 in Novakovići, Petrićevac parish. He completed his primary and secondary education in Banja Luka, Zagreb and Đakovo, where he began his theological studies. He was ordained a priest on June 29th 1972. He received his doctorate in liturgy in 1978 at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Innsbruck. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Banja Luka in 1985, and has served as the resident bishop since July 15th 1989. From the biography of Msgr. Komarica, stands out his ardent support for the beatification of Ivan Merz and tireless encouragement for the return of exiles and justice and peace.

Bishops in the Greek Catholic Church prayed for peace in Ukraine

After the end of the 84th regular session of the BK BiH, the bishop delegates visited the Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish church of Christ the King in the centre of Banja Luka. They were welcomed by the vicar of the Greek Catholic Vicariate in Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Križevci eparchy, the local parish priest father Miroslav Krnješin, together with the parish priest from Kozarac, father Mihalo Stahnek and priest from Devetine father Andrej Prihod. After the liturgical song, Archbishop Vukšić led the gathered people in a prayer for peace in Ukraine.