The centennial mass was led by Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, joined in concelebration by Croatian Franciscans led by guardian friar Jozo Grbeša and parish priest friar Ivan Strmečki.
The Croatian Sacred Heart Parish in Milwaukee in the State of Wisconsin of the United States of America was founded in 1917 by friar Placid Belavić. A Catholic school was also opened decades later.
A Croatian community has been active here, some 160 kilometres from Chicago, for the past century. The Croatian parish is the hub of the activities of nine ethnic Croatian associations in the city of Milwaukee.
The centennial of this excellent parish community was formally celebrated on the 8th of October. The mass was led by Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, joined in concelebration by Croatian Franciscans led by guardian friar Jozo Grbeša and parish priest friar Ivan Strmečki.
A reception gathering several hundred was an opportunity to revive memories of times past. The event programme was led by Ivona Macan and Damir Braovac. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett expressed his gratitude for the existence of this community church, where he often went to mass a child. City councillor Michael Murphy, whose father played in the renowned Croatian Eagles Soccer Club, read the city’s declaration on the occasion of the parish’s centennial. The Bura tamburitza ensemble saw to the entertainment.
Back in 1922 Croatians founded the first ethnic Croatian soccer club in the United States of America here, with then parish priest Dragutin Jesih serving as the club’s first chairman.
The Federation of Croatian Societies of Milwaukee Wisconsin was founded in 1934 and a large plot of land to be home to a Croatian park was purchased in 1956. The Croatian language school opened its doors nine years later.
The Croatians of Milwaukee were particularly active in the 1990s during and following the Homeland War for independence, and in 2015 they saw the Croatian coastal city of Zadar and Milwaukee join hands as sister cities.
A hundred years is a long life, especially in the emigrant communities. A hundred years of life stories, of parish unity, of love for everything Croatian truly inspires pride in all those who have invested their time and talents, their efforts and labours, and all their joy into this community. (mojahrvatska.vecernji.hr)