of Franciscan Arrivals
Franciscans came to America at the beginning of the century.
The main reason for their coming to America was their pastoral
work among the Croatian immigrants, and they were truly the
pastoral pioneers. By World War II the majority of parishes
were established, and also the construction of churches, parish
rectories, schools, convents and halls were completed by that
time. However, we should note that a large number of Franciscans
did not come at that time. There were only twenty-six of whom
most returned soon after to their homeland. We can credit
the establishment of parishes or some sort of building construction
to almost all of those first priests. Some ministered as traveling
missionaries seeking Croatians all over the expanse of America:
Fr. David Zrno, Fr. Ljubo Čuvalo and Fr. Franjo Čuturić
were most active in this field.
Up to 1920 only
seven Franciscans, who became members of the future Commissariat,
came to America: Fr. Ambroz Širca (1909), Fr. Bonaventure
Bilandžić (1910), Fr. Irenaeus Petričak, Fr. Luka
Terzić, Fr. Placid Belavić, and Fr. Leon Medić
(1912), Fr. Vjenceslav Vukonić (1920). Twelve priests
came in the third decade to work among the Croatians: Fr.
Vjenceslav Vukonić (1920), Fr. Bono Andačić,
Fr. Franjo Čuturić, Fr. Ambro Mišetić (1922),
Fr. Clement Veren (1923), Fr. Hugolin Feysz (1924), Fr. Blaž
Jerković (1927), Fr. Filip Šeparović, Fr. Gabro
Cvitanović, Fr. Špiro Andrijanić, and Fr. Zvonko
Mandurić (1928), Fr. Egidija Horvath (1929), and Fr.
Vladislav Luburić (1930). In the fourth decade another
seven priests arrived: Fr. David Zrno, Fr. Anzelmo Slišković
(1930), Fr. Ferdinand Skoko, Fr. Teofil Pehar (1933), Fr.
Ljubo Čuvalo (1935) and Fr. Silvije Grubišić, and
Fr. Kornelije Ravlić (1938). We need to also mention
Bro. Alojzije Soldo who came to America in 1910 as an ordinary
worker, then later became a Franciscan and took his solemn
vows in 1931. He was a Franciscan lay brother. Of that first
"wave" of Franciscans none are alive today. The
majority are buried in our Franciscan plot in Holy Sepulchre
Cemetery near Chicago, but some are buried in their homeland.
Interestingly, the priest that lived the longest and died
in 1996 when he was 107 years old, was Fr. Irenaeus Petričak.
The second wave
of immigrant Franciscans came after World War II fleeing the
bloody communist regime. In this new wave we need to include
those young Franciscans, who as youngsters fled their homeland
for the free world only to end up in refugee camps for some
time in various European countries, and later became candidates
for the Franciscan Order. They completed a good portion of
their education in Europe then later came to America in order
to complete their studies in philosophy or theology and to
be ordained as priests. There was also a small number of Franciscans
that came from Croatian families already living in America.
They were born in America but had a strong desire to become
Franciscans and work amongst the Croatians in America. There
was a total of thirty-four priests in this group. A large
number of these priests are still active, while some are retired
in the friary in Chicago and some have gone on to their eternal
peace. Immediately after the war, the following priests came
to America: Fr. Vjekoslav Bambir, Fr. Myron Lasić, Fr.
Slavko Luburić, Fr. Vilim Primorac, Fr. Celestin Raguñ,
Fr. Serafin Vištica, Fr. Ignacije Jurković, and Fr. Vendelin
Vasilj (1946). Following them came: Fr. Ivo Sivrić (1947),
Fr. Berto Dragićević, Fr. Kruno Pandžić (1949),
Fr. Kvirin Vasilj, Fr. Oton Knezović and Fr. Zoran Ostojić
(1950), Fr. Timothy Majić, and Fr. Dominic Mandić
(1951), Fr. Tugomir Soldo and Fr. Predrag Kordić (1952),
Fr. Trpimir Musa, Fr. Franjo Radišić (1953), Fr. Dominik
Ćorić, Fr. Vitomir Naletilić (1954), Fr. Gracijan
Raspudić, Fr. Bruno Raspudić (1957). Four "war-time"
candidates came to America in 1951 following the abolition
of the seminary in Grottaferata, Italy: Fr. Marko Kozina (ordained
in 1959), Fr. Eugen Petroviƒ (ordained in 1960), Fr. Jozo
Abramović (ordained in 1961) and Fr. Paul Maslač
(ordained in 1962). During the war and post war years, there
were six priests ordained who were of Croatian descent and
were members of the community: Fr. Charles Pleše (ordained
in Mostar in 1940, and in 1941 returned to America), Fr. Steve
Raich (1943), Fr. Bono Bilandžić (1943, who came to America
as a youngster in 1910), Fr. Theodore Benković (ordained
in Mostar in 1941, and returned to America in 1946), and Fr.
Patrick Cigich (1946), and Fr. Jerome Kućan (1951).
Some of the
aforementioned friars were professors and youth counselors
to the seminarians in Italy and then came to America once
the seminaries closed. Others were studying for their doctorates
in various European universities and because of the war in
their homeland could not return. Hence, they went to America.
Finally, the third wave of immigrants includes all the friars
who came to work among the Croatians after World War II up
to the present but not as a direct result of the war. Here
we also include the friars who were born in America or educated
here and are members of the Custody. Some from this "wave"
returned back to their homeland while others left the Order.
Fr. Rufin Šiliƒ ( 1965) , Fr. Mladen Čuvalo, Fr. Nenad
Galić, Fr. Zvonimir Kutleša and Fr. Karlo Zovko (1967),
Fr. Leon Galić and Fr. Ilija Puljić (1969), Fr.
Ivan Bradvica (1971). Fr. Ante Čuvalo (ordained in 1972)
and Fr. Hrvoslav Ban (1973), Fr. Slavko Soldo and Fr. Rafo
Romić (1973), Fr. Jozo Čuić (1975); ordained
as priests in 1977 in America were Fr. Jozo Grubišić
and Fr. Svetozar Kraljević (who came here in 1975); Fr.
Dionizije Lasić, Fr. Ljubo Krasić (1974). Of the
priests born in America, Fr. Anthony Dukić was ordained
in 1957, Fr. Leonard Mepugorac (1958), Fr. Lawrence Frankovich
(1966), Fr. Vincent Cvitkoviƒ and Fr. Robert Galinac (1969),
Fr. Matthew Ruyechan (1980), Fr. Gregory Furjanić (1980)
and Fr. Stjepan Bedeniković who came from Croatia in
1966 as a youngster (1985).
In later years
the following priests came or were ordained here: Fr. Drago
Tolj (1977), Fr. Šimun Ćorić (1978), Fr. Vlatko
Mišetić, Fr. Marijan Pehar, Fr. Stjepan Pandžić
(1982), Fr. Marko Puljić (1983), Fr. Stipe Pervan (1984),
Fr. Miro Grubišić (1986), Fr. Ljubo Lebo and Bro. Alojzije
Topić (1987), Fr. Veselko Kvesić (1988), Fr. Ivan
Prusina (1992), Fr. Jozo Grbeš (came 1992, ordained 1993),
Fr. Slaven Mijatović (1994), Fr. Robert Kiš (1994), Fr.
Valentin Vukoja (1995), Fr. Jago Soče (1996), Fr. Robert
Jolić (1997), Fr. Nikola Pašalić (1999) . While
in training, several candidates lived in the Custody for a
short time, and they were: Fr. Mile Vlašić (1992-93),
Fr. Ante Ivanković Jr. (1992-93), Fr. Šimun Romić
(1996-97), Fr. Danko Perutina (1998-99), Fr. Dario Dodig (1998-99),
Fr. Mario Knezović (1999-2000), Fr. Tomislav Puljić
(1999-2000), Fr. Ivica Majstorović (1999-2000), Fr. Stipe
Renic, Fr. Ante Bekavac, and Fr. Vinko Bebek.