A day of prayerful remembrance for the martyrs and victims of the Diocese of Banja Luka

The Day of Prayer Remembrance for the Martyrs and Victims of the Diocese of Banja Luka was held in Drvar on July 27th, for the 18th time. The blessing of the building of the future pastoral centre in this city was also arranged.

The prayer program in Drvar, in a temporary parish liturgical space, began with the piety of the way of the cross of the martyrs led by the parish priest of Banja Luka, rev. Žarko Vladislav Ošap, who, as a former pastor of Drvar, initiated and started this commemoration in Drvar.

Then the Holy Mass was celebrated, led by the Apostolic Nuncio to BiH, Msgr. Luigi Pezzuto, in concelebration with Bishop of Banja Luka, Msgr. Franjo Komarica and seven priests. About 30 nuns Servants of Little Jesus of the Split Province sang at the Mass, who this way ended their seven-day spiritual exercises they had in Žabljak near Livno.

At the beginning of the Holy Mass, parish priest rev. Davor Klečina briefly outlined the great suffering of the Catholic Church and the Croat people in western Bosnia and eastern Lika, which began in the Second World War on July 27th 1941. with the murder of parish priest of Drvar Waldemar M. Nestor and pilgrims, and it culminated in the coming days and weeks.

It is a historical fact that by the end of World War II, the Catholic Church and Croats were literally uprooted from that wide area - from Ključ to Knin, from Livno to Bihać and Gospić, and so on for the next 50 years, until the end of the last war when they mildly recovered. And three neighbouring parish priests - Nestor of Drvar, Juraj Gospodnetić of Grahovo and Krešimir Barišić of Krnjeuša - were priests and first martyrs at the helm of a long line of more than 600 priests, monks, nuns, theologians and seminarians who were killed in World War II and the aftermath of the war in the former states.

After the Holy Mass, those present headed for the memorial cross to the fallen Croatian veterans, which was recently restored by members of the Drvar’s branch of the HVO Veterans Association with the help of the Livno Veterans' Association, where delegations laid wreaths and candles, and then Bishop Komarica led a prayer of forgiveness for deceased.

Then, on the land with a supporting building that the parish of Drvar, with the help of numerous benefactors, bought last year and where the construction of a new parish pastoral centre was planned, the blessing of a future construction site was completed. The rite was led by nuncio Pezzuto.

Let us recall, the memorial was introduced in 2001. and was called the Day of the Martyrs of Drvar - in memory of the parish priest of Drvar, Waldemar Maximilian Nestor, who was killed on July 27th 1941., together with a group of believers, while returning from the pilgrimage to St. Ana from Knin, and since 2008., by the order of bishop of Banja Luka, Franjo Komarica, the commemoration bears the name of the Day of Prayer Remembrance for the Martyrs and Victims of the Diocese of Banja Luka, thus becoming a diocesan commemoration.

Unfortunately, in Drvar, the Uprising Day is still being celebrated on July 27th, and last year this date was chosen as Municipality Day. At the same time as the commemoration for the martyrs in the church took place, the followers of the so-called anti-fascism across the road laid wreaths at the partisan monument, trying unsuccessfully to provoke and disrupt Catholic commemoration by playing, louder than ever, partisan songs and those glorifying Tito.