The jubilee 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Charity to BiH was officially closed

On Sunday, November 14th, the jubilee 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Society of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul to BiH.

Eucharistic celebration, concelebrating with the Auxiliary Bishop of Banja Luka, Msgr. Marko Semren, Provincial of the Franciscan Province of Bosna Srebrena, OFM Jozo Marinčić, manager of the Apostolic Nunciature in BiH, Msgr. Amaury Medina Blanca, Vicar General of the Vrhbosna Archdiocese, Msgr. Slađan Ćosić and about 20 other priests, was led by the Archbishop Coadjutor of Vrhbosna and Apostolic Administrator of the Military Ordinariate in BiH, Msgr. Tomo Vukšić.

At the beginning, he greeted those present and called for gratitude and prayer on the occasion of this great jubilee for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

The celebration of the Holy Mass gathered a large number of believers, among whom were many nuns, not only Sisters of Charity, but various religious communities, and it is interesting that among the present sisters of St. Vincent was also a significant number of them dressed in religious uniforms as worn by the first benefactors in BiH.

After the biblical readings and the proclaimed gospel, Archbishop Vukšić delivered a sermon. "Filomena Massi from Ljubljana, Rufina Radonić from Pleternica in Slavonia, Rajmunda Perentin from Izola in Istria and Emilija Gašparić from Varaždin - these are, according to old records, the names and origins of the first four Catholic nuns arrived in Sarajevo from Zagreb who died exactly 150 years ago, on November 14, 1871. It was Tuesday when these members of the Society of the Sisters of Charity (Mercy) of St. Vincent de Paul, or the Society of the Daughters of Christian Love, as this community was originally called by its founder St. Vincent, arrived. This saint, known as the apostle of Christian love, together with St. Louise de Marillac founded this community in Paris in 1633. Young, full of life and energetic, devoted to their vocation and with great confidence in God’s providence, they came as daughters and servants of Christian love at the invitation of the then Apostolic Vicar, a very experienced bishop, OFM Paškal Vujičić, who was a missionary bishop first in Albania, and then in Egypt, and the then Bosnian Apostolic Vicariate was his third episcopal ministry”, reminded Msgr. Tomo.

He then emphasized that those gathered at this Holy Mass on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the coming of these sisters, intend to remember with gratitude, above all, those who, by giving themselves, in this area began the noble work of Christian love and service of their religious community and Catholic nuns in general.

After the Holy Mass, which was animated by the united choir of the Sisters of Charity of the Sarajevo Province, led by sister Blanka Jeličić with the organ accompaniment of sister Matea Krešić, a special program was organized at noon in the premises of the Catholic School Centre Sveti Josip.

At the beginning of the ceremonial academy, the choir of the Sisters of Charity first performed the song Father of All Orphans.

Then the Provincial Head of the Sarajevo Province, sister Julijana Djaković, greeted the gathered. “Reflecting on the journey we have traversed, we discover the glorious deeds of God manifested through his chosen ones, by which he wished to make himself caring, visible and present in various ways. We discover how, not only the sisters, but also his people, the risen Christ with his victorious cross and his infinite, Divine mercy strongly embraced and led us through the difficult and turbulent history of our tortured BiH. Stepping on their path of burnout, the ‘white sisters’, of whom there were more than a thousand in this time period, experienced their births and deaths, the ups and downs that accompany them to this day (…) The sisters continue to carry out their mission today by giving contribution to the local Church in which they live and work (…) By reviving our past, we try to embody the effective love of God in our present, in new forms of St. Paul’s charisma”, said, among other things, sister Julijana.

A commemorative postage stamp was then presented on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the sisters’ arrival in BiH, presented by Željka Šaravanja, Head of the HP Mostar Philately Department, while the billboard was presented to the Provincial by the Director of the HP Mostar Sales Department Josip Bulić.

Another musical act Kako je divno, tvoje ime (How wonderful, your name is) was performed by the Sisters of Mercy, and then sister Alojzija Ramljak briefly presented the work of the Sisters of Mercy on the historical path of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a collection of the shows that the Sisters of Charity had on Radio Marija during the year, wanting to bring their company closer to the listeners, and which those gathered could get after the program.

This was followed by the composition Sveti Vinko, ljubav tvoja (St. Vincent, your love), and then the short film Under the auspices of the Mother of God - Sisters of Charity in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1871 - 2021.

Sister Blanka then read a few congratulations that had arrived from those who had been prevented from coming to this ceremony.

Then the Provincial, OFM Jozo Marinčić, sent his congratulations and presented the Sisters of Charity with a replica of the painting of Our Lady of Olovo. Also, OFM Andrija Nikić from Ljubuški addressed on behalf of the Herzegovina Franciscan Province.

The closing speech was given by the Supreme Head of the Society of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul, sister. Miroslava Bradica.

In the end, sisters of the Sarajevo province, presented paintings to Archbishop Vukšić and the supreme head, which were handed to them by Provincial sister Djaković.

The program, moderated by sister Blanka Jeličić, ended with a musical performance of the Anthem to the Divine Mother, and socialising of those gathered continued with a reception.

Let us add that today, a century and a half since the arrival of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in BiH, ie since the seeds of female monasticism were planted among the BiH people, at the level of the Bishops’ Conference of BiH there are 17 women’s religious communities, in greater or lesser numbers there is about 480 of them, and about 60 of them are sisters of Charity.

The initial community of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent branched out, according to the available data, into 12 congregations and all bear the name of St. Vincent. Today, they have about 20 000 sisters all together and work in more than 90 countries, so considering all the numbers they would be the largest female religious community in the entire Church.