The Croatian Franciscan Custody of the Holy Family (1969 -
especially those of political nature, had an impact on the
growth of the Croatian population in the United States and
later in Canada, as well as the growth of Croatian Franciscans
in the same areas. In 1945, the tragic changes in the homeland
had an enormous influence in the Croatian community in America.
The slaughter of Croatian youth in Bleiburg, various convoys
of death, and the Communist persecution of anything Croatian
or Catholic led large numbers of Croatians as well as Franciscans
to flee the homeland. A large number of them ended up in America
and Canada. It caused further extension of pastoral, national
and cultural activities. The Custody, being the only clerical
organization among Croatians living in America and Canada,
took over many of these obligations. Hard economic times in
the communist Yugoslavia, especially in the first few decades
after World War II, forced out the new generations of Croatians.
The Franciscans established new parishes, took over parishes
that no longer had pastors, published newspapers and magazines,
as well as helped the Croatian Diaspora in their new surroundings.
Because of the
growing number of Franciscans in Chicago, two more buildings
were bought, one in 1944 and the other in 1952. St. Anthony
Friary , consisting of three buildings, is a fine complex
for the Croatian Franciscans in America. The seminarians resided
in the first building until the second building, bought in
1952, was appropriately renovated. . Besides these three buildings,
the Franciscans opened up two more Franciscan residences which
had different functions. There was a plan to establish a novitiate
at Our Lady of Peace Friary in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
The house and grounds were bought in 1965 and the residence
was canonically confirmed in 1966. As there was a decline
of vocations to the priesthood, the friary's primary reason
for existence was never actualized. St. Francis Friary in
Gulf Breeze, Florida was established in 1956 so that the brothers
could have a vacationing spot. In 1977 the Croatian Franciscan
Custody had its largest number of working places; the main
friary in Chicago and two other friaries, while the brothers
ministered in thirteen American and seven Canadian parishes
or missions. Later in 1989 the parish in Kitchener, Ontario
was assumed. The friars published various pamphlets, magazines,
books, and they had their own printery.
many reasons which will be presented later, the Custody started
to minimize the scope of its activities. As a result, the
friaries in Florida and Pennsylvania were sold. The friars
withdrew from some parishes, and certain publications had
to be discontinued. The major reason for this was the end
of many decades of the Serbo-Communist regime, and the long
awaited independence of Croatia. Certain activities in the
immigrant world were no longer necessary.
Up to this point, the
following friars led the Custody with the title Custos: Fr. Vjekoslav
Bambir (1967 - 1973), Fr. Častimir (Timothy) Majić
(1973 - 1976), Fr. Marko Kozina (1976 - 1979), Fr. Steve Raich
(1979 - 1982), Fr. Jozo Abramović (1982 -
1985), Fr. Paul Maslač (1985 - 1994), Fr. Slavko Soldo
(1994 - 2001), Fr. Marko Puljic (2001 - 2009), Fr. Paul Maslač (2009 - 2012). Fr. Jozo Grbeš is currently the Custos.