Franciscans established the Croatian Ethnic Institute in 1975,
with headquarters in Chicago, for the purpose of preserving
and promoting the Croatian heritage in the United States and
Canada. This foundation was established with one far-sighted
goal, namely, that all which is valuable and in any way related
to the Croatians could be found in one place and used for
various kinds of research. An additional goal of the Institute
was to promote Croatian history, culture, literature, and
In the foundation's
program the following is noted: "The main purpose of
this Institute is to gather documents and data from all Croatian
parishes, organizations, and individuals in the United States
and Canada, then to try to spread this information to other
Croatian parishes, organizations and clubs outside the homeland;
and finally to gather all the written documents which relate
to the Croatian immigrants and the problems of emigration.
That documentation encompasses published and unpublished books
and periodicals written by Croatians, articles and books written
by others who wrote about Croatians and Croatia, private libraries,
private and official letters and correspondence which have
some importance, works of art, trophies, stamps, coins, dolls,
photographs, folklore, music, films, and personal ;articles
whose value has diminished, but which have documented evidence,
Croatian Franciscan Custody is the one Croatian institute
on the American continent which could begin this kind of activity
and give a guarantee to all those who were willing to donate
valuable materials of whatever sort to the Institute. The
fact is that in the last 25 years the Institute was able to
gather an impressive amount of all sorts of material, but
most valuable is the archives which hold important facts about
the Croatian parishes in the United States and Canada. A large
number of published works about parishes, clubs and their
anniversaries have found their place in the Croatian Ethnic
Institute. A large token of gratitude is due Fr. Ljubo Krasic
for gathering and arranging of all this. He is also the current
Director of the Institute.
Prendja u Institutu
Archbishop Prendja at the Institute
In addition to the archives,
the Institute also has a vast library containing about 12,000
books and 300 different newspapers. These are valuable mainly
because they were printed in the United States and Canada.
An ethnological collection, and a collection of documents
and books about the appearances of Our Lady in Medjugorje
can also be found there. A number of valuable publications
from abroad and the homeland can be found in the library.
Unfortunately, some projects are not finished, for instance,
the census of all the Croatian institutions and individuals
of great importance living in the United States and Canada.
With all the difficulties involved in these projects, and
the small number of personnel who work here, it is still amazing
at how many important things have been accomplished.
The Directors of the Institute:
Hrvoslav Ban 1975.-1976.
Ljubo Krasić 1976.-1980.
Dionizije Lasić 1985.-1995.
Ljubo Krasić 1995.
Croatian Schools of
America and Canada (CSAC)
Even though this project does
not fall under the jurisdiction of the Franciscan Custody,
still many Franciscans assisted as the founders, directors,
and teachers in the Croatian schools throughout the United
States and Canada. Therefore it is also important to mention
CSAC here as well. Since there were no adequate textbooks
for the children, and the Croatian schools abroad and in the
homeland were full of lies written in a Yugoslay and pro-communist
manner, a strong need arose to publish appropriate books for
the teaching of the Croatian language. Most places needed
to organize Croatian schools, and they needed to be woven
into an academic network. The teaching programs were coordinated
in this way, and teachers were prepared for the very important
and responsible task of imparting the Croatian language, history,
and awareness to the younger generations. In all of this Fr.
Ljubo Krasic played a major role. In 1974, together with a
group of Croatian intellectuals and sympathizers in the United
States and Canada, he founded an institution which was named
Croatian Schools of America and Canada (CSAC-HISAK). By 1978
CSAC already had 55 Croatian schools. During the same year
12 schools from Australia joined them. Therefore the name
of the institution was changed to the Croatian Schools of
America, Australia and Canada. The headquarters was then in
Canada, where in 1978 the first seminars for the Croatian
teachers were organized. In 1984 and 1986 CSAC's central committee,
consisting of Fr. Ljubo Krasic, Ante Beljo, Gojko Susak and
Vinko Grubisic, organized the international seminars of the
Croatian language and folklore. During those years over 100
CSAC schools operated abroad.
According to the most recent
statistics there are over 30 active Croatian Schools, and
over 2700 students in the United States and Canada."9
Since the arrival of democracy in Croatia most of the schools
function independently, and in most cases use textbooks from
the homeland, while in some cases the textbooks by HISAK authors
are used. In these schools the Croatian children, besides
learning the Croatian language, learn the Croatian national
folklore and dances, and to a lesser degree, Croatian geography
In addition to this, it is important
to mention that in a large number of Croatian parishes, those
served by the Croatian Franciscan Custody and others, large
folklore dance groups have been established. They are composed
of young Croatian men and women, most of whom have learned
the Croatian dances while attending the Croatian school as
children. In that way the Croatian cultural heritage is being
in some measure maintamed, even among younger generations.
These individuals were born in the United States and Canada,
but with roots from various parts of Lijepa Nasa (Our Beloved).