Waves of Franciscan Arrivals

Some Croatian 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.



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