For his contributions during his thirty years of work in this country Monsignor Balvanović was awarded Peruvian citizenship by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, with the decision presented to him by Dr Eduardo Sevilla Echevarria, the head of the office for migration and interior affairs, and by Dr Roxana del Aguila-Petrovic, the general director of Migrations Peru.
2017 is a special year for the community of the Roman Catholic parish of the St Leopold Mandić Peruvian-Croatian Centre in Lima, which has long been preparing for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Croatian pastoral vicariate in Lima and the 20th anniversary of the St Leopold Mandić parish.
At the invitation of parish priest Monsignor Drago Balvanović the community was visited on the 5th of December by the military bishop in Bosnia-Herzegovina Tomo Vukšić, accompanied by priest Marijan Stojanović, the military chaplain and parish priest in Banja Luka’s Budžak parish. The following day the bishop visited the shrine of Saint Rose of Lima and the major Catholic churches and institutions in Lima and the Dubrovnik Croatian Club in the evening. A procession was staged on the evening of the 7th of December with a statue of Mary the Help of Christians, which was then installed in one of the nearby parks as a lasting memorial of the anniversary. In the morning of the festivity on the 8th of December Monsignor Vukšić led a Catholic mass with a renewal of monastic vows at the general house of the nuns of Canonesas de la Cruz. That afternoon Bishop Vukšić led a holy mass celebrating the Immaculate Conception. The mass was concelebrated by the military bishop in Peru Juan Carlos Vera Plasencia, parish priest and vicar for Croatian Catholics Monsignor Drago Balvanović, the delegate for Croatians in the United States of America and parish priest in New York friar Nikola Pašalić, the parish priest of the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lima Monsignor Rafael Retegui, military chaplain Marijan Stojanović, vicar Marko Jukić and Combonian missionary Graciadio. Also taking part in the mass were the mayor of the San Borja district Marco Alvarez, the president of the Dubrovnik Croatian Association general Zdenko Teply, former minister and mayor of Croatian extraction Luisa Maria Cuculiza Torre, many of the leading society figures, representatives of the orphanage in Ponte Piedre from other communities the Croatian community helps and its benefactors. The bishops, priests, ministrants and parishioners in Peruvian and Croatian folk costume entered St Leopold church in a festive procession. The celebration of the mass was animated by the combined choirs of the parish and vicariate and the young members, with songs sung in both Spanish and Croatian. In his sermon Monsignor Vukšić congratulated Monsignor Balvanović and the entire community on their anniversary and spoke of the major milestones in the history of the Croatian community’s presence in Peru.
Thanking all for their prayers and good deeds he noted that Monsignor Balvanović would formally receive Peruvian citizenship that day, after thirty years of work in this country. The formal swearing in and awarding of citizenship was staged in the parish hall. For his contributions Monsignor Balvanović was awarded Peruvian citizenship by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, with the decision presented to him by Dr Eduardo Sevilla Echevarria, the head of the office for migration and interior affairs, and by Dr Roxana del Aguila-Petrovic, the general director of Migrations Peru. The ceremony was followed by the Peruvian national anthem and a programme prepared by the nuns and the young members of the community. The programme featured a special performance of folklore, dances and songs of Peru.
On the 9th of December Bishop Vukšić was joined by the local priests for a visit to the Santa Clara Croatian Club, where he met with members of the Croatian community. His visit to Peru continued on the 10th to 12th of December with a visit to Cusco and a visit to the tourist attractions of Lima and Callao on the 13th.