Assembly sessions of the First Synod of the VN opened with a solemn Holy Mass

The Archbishop of Vrhbosna cardinal Vinko Puljić, in the morning of September 11th, led the Eucharist in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during which the members of the Synod laid the Confession of Faith and the assembly sessions of the First Synod of the Vrhbosna Archdiocese (VN) were opened.

The motto of the First Synod of the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna, which began in 2012, is To renew everything in Christ (Eph 1:10), and it sought to reflect the spirit of the then Pope Benedict XVI’s call to the whole Church to embark on the path of new evangelization.

Numerous concelebrants

Concelebrating with the Cardinal were: the Apostolic Nuncio to BiH, Msgr. Luigi Pezzuto; Archbishop Coadjutor of Vrhbosna Msgr. Tomo Vukšić; Bishop of Šibenik and representative of the HBK Msgr. Tomislav Rogić; Bishop of Banja Luka, Msgr. Franjo Komarica; Bishop of Mostar-Duvno and Apostolic Administrator of Trebinje-Mrkan Msgr. Petar Palić; Provincial of Bosna Srebrena, OFM Jozo Marinčić; Provincial of the Herzegovina Franciscan Province, OFM Miljenko Šteko; heads of synod commissions, Vicar General of the VN Msgr. Slađan Ćosić, Rev. Šimo Maršić, OFM Stipo Alandžak, OFM Danimir Pezer, OFM Josip Vajdner and the Secretary General of the Synod, rev. Mario Bernadić.

At the beginning of the Holy Mass, Archbishop Vinko expressed satisfaction that after nine years of work and preparation, the time had come to open synod sessions. He then greeted the bishops, provincials, priests, monks and nuns present, as well as all members of the synod commissions and the media workers who broadcasted the Eucharist directly.

A brief reminder of history

After the Holy Mass readings and the proclaimed Gospel in the appropriate homily, cardinal Puljić pointed out that the session of the First Synod of the Vrhbosna Archdiocese was solemnly opened with a Eucharistic celebration in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “Therefore, at the very beginning, I invite you to unite in prayer for this local Church of Vrhbosna”, said Archbishop Vinko and then reminded of the Christian roots in BiH.

“Christianity appeared in this area quite early, as evidenced by archaeological traces such as the basilica in Breza, the old basilica in Bare (parish of Solakova Kula) and archaeological remains in Uzdol, Lepenica, Sarajevo, Zenica, Oborci, Turbe near Travnik, Čipuljići, Varvara, Dabrovine, Skelani”, he emphasized and added that after the baptism of Croats in VII. and VIII. century, the Bosnian diocese was founded, the first written traces of which date from the middle of the XI. century, which around 1060 and 1075 belonged to the Split metropolis, and later Bar, and Dubrovnik in the XII. st.

“In the XIII century, in the village Brdo near Vrhbosna, bishop Povša had the cathedral of St. Peter, which was dedicated in 1244, and whose altar stone is in the National Museum, while the copy is in the cathedral as a pulpit”, added cardinal Puljić and explained that with the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, the survival of Catholicism was seriously called into question, and many churches and monasteries were completely destroyed. He underlined that at that time missionary and pastoral work was performed by members of the Order of Friars Minor or Franciscans, who with great effort and sacrifice managed to survive under the regime of the Sultanate, and were led by apostolic vicars.

“With the arrival of the Austro-Hungarian government, the Holy See renewed the regular church hierarchy by establishing the Vrhbosna metropolis in 1881, which consisted of the Vrhbosna archdiocese based in Sarajevo, and the suffragan dioceses of Mostar-Duvno based in Mostar and the Banja Luka diocese based in Banja Luka. A few years later, in 1890, the diocese of Trebinje became part of the metropolis, which has since been managed by the bishop of Mostar as an apostolic administrator," said cardinal Vinko and continued to talk about the suffering that the archdiocese he headed suffered during the 20th century, but also about the re-ascension from the ashes. He particularly emphasized the expulsion of believers and the prevention of their return.

“I feel the need to briefly recall some facts from our not-so-distant past in order to better understand the need to convene the Synod, which is, above all, an invitation for all of us to courageously and decisively work for recovery and survival in this area, by the example of our ancestors who left us a legacy of fidelity to God, the Church, the baptismal covenant, our homeland and the family hearth”, he added and emphasized that the local Church does not ask anyone for any privileges, but wants to enjoy their right and freedom and stay and survive in the same areas in communion of faith and the sacraments with its bishop as a member of the Apostolic Choir and in communion with Peter of today, that is, with the Roman Church which ‘presides in love’ (KKC, no. 833-34)”, he said and continued to explain that in his speeches about preparing the synodality of the universal Church, Pope Francis calls for the emphasis in the local Church to be placed on the fruit of the synodality in prayer, and then to encourage communication with Christ, the heads and close ones and to create, as a third fruit, communion, which is extremely important in war-ravaged religious communities.

“The Archdiocese of Vrhbosna, as well as the entire Catholic Church in this country, wants to be a builder of unity and cooperation of all people of good will, and with the help of its institutions and members to proclaim and witness the Good News of salvation to every man”, the cardinal said and at the end of sermon added: “The First Synod of the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna, which we are opening today, also wants to contribute to the elimination of all prejudices and divisions, and above all to encourage its sons and daughters to work harder with the help and power of the Gospel on the missionary and evangelizing mission of the Church, so that the God’s word is the foundation, the light, and the source of the effort to build the kingdom of God already here on earth.”

After the homily, the present members of the Synod laid the Confession of Faith.

The Eucharistic celebration was animated by a mixed choir under the direction of OFM Emanuel Josić. The Holy Mass from the Sarajevo Cathedral was broadcasted live by BHRT and Radio Marija BiH.

Towards the end of the Eucharist, a Prayer for the Synod was said, and the Cardinal invoked God’s blessing on the participants, who had a lot of work to do.

After the Holy Mass, which was celebrated on September 11th in the Sarajevo Cathedral in the hall of the Priest’s House of the VN, followed a solemn introduction to the working part of the assembly sessions of the First Synod of the Vrhbosna Archdiocese (PSVN).