Holy Mass of remembrance for the victims of the war in the village of Bilivode

For the seventh consecutive year on the first Saturday in August in the village of Bilivode, which territorially belongs to the parish of St. Joseph in Zenica, Holy Mass for all the exiled and murdered residents of the area was celebrated.

With the participation of about 300 believers, the Eucharistic celebration was led by the local son, rev. Dražen Kustura, a priest of the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna, who is a postgraduate in Communication Studies in Rome.

“There are so many similarities between the Croats and God's chosen people. Both have longed for freedom and the homeland, for freedom, but at the same time, they have so often been in wars and targets of neighbours who wanted to conquer them, but they survived thanks to their faith and community”, rev. Dražen said in a homily and invited the gathered to preserve the memory of their native land.

Before the final blessing, a common prayer was prayed for all the victims of the past war, and especially for the four people from Bilivode: Jozo Krišto (1926), Luka Šestan (1930), Mirko Letić (1948) and Ivo Kustura (1921), who were cruely killed by the Muslim forces in April 1993., and burned the bodies of the first three in a weekend house.

After the Holy Mass, socialising continued around the family table and the sounds of folk melos where all present had the opportunity to meet, talk and remember better times. There was also a football match between married and unmarried men as played every Sunday before the war.

The village of Bilivode is a few kilometres away from the parish church of St. Joseph. Before the war, about 250 Croat Catholics lived in it, and today only one grandmother - Katica Mijač - lives there, while the aftermath of the war is still visible at every step.

Therefore, the annual gathering and the day of remembrance of the victims is at the same time an encouragement that the people of Zenica did not forget their native land or the sacrifice they had made in the past war.