Professor Petar Hategan, president of the Democratic Federation of Croatians in Romania and a member of Croatian Government’s advisory panel on Croatians abroad, pupils Branko Duma and Marjan Radić and students Marija Moldovan, Slavica Dragija, Marija Vatav and Denis Moldovan made a nine-day van tour of Mostar, Sarajevo, Međugorje, Vrgorac, Zaostrog, Makarska, Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb.
The trip was organised by the Democratic Federation of Croatians in Romania and the participants were regular attendees of supplementary Croatian language and literature instruction, the winners of the first and second place prizes at the Croatian Language Olympiad and people active in promoting the Croatian identity in Romania. The goal was to learn about Croatian culture “on-site”; travelling through cities, meeting people, talking with native speakers who carry on Croatian cultural and societal achievements… Part of the goal has certainly been achieved as all of the participants speak of Croatia in superlatives.
The trip through Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia was content-packed – you will certainly agree that leaving the Karaševo (Carașova) region in Romania on the morning of August 4th and arriving in Sarajevo at around 4 pm (for a two-hour tour), then arriving in Mostar at 7 pm to walk the famed bridge, and then joining some 50 thousand pilgrims in Međugorje at 10 pm for the Mladifest is an out-of-the-ordinary experience. All the more so as these young people – and I was with two secondary schoolers, four university students and a driver – were (with the exception of Branko Duma) in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia for the first time.
We stayed at the monastery in Vrgorac, where we were hosted by the generous Fra’ Ivica Omazić and his upstanding faithful. It was wonderful there – poet Tin Ujević was born in this town and we visited the house he was born in. from Vrgorac we travelled to Zaostrog and visited the Fra’ Andrija Kačić Miošić monastery, where we were greeted by the guardian and parish priest Fra’ Branko Brnas. We were also warmly welcomed by the singular Fra’ Mario Jurišić who gave us a tour of the exhibits on display. We saw a Meštrović sculpture, learned about Kačić Miošić’s Pleasant Conversation of the Slavic People, visited the library and then greeted his statue on the square bearing his name in the town of Makarska.
Besides Makarska we also visited Marulić’s city of Split and Diocletian’s palace, walked along the waterfront and touched the lucky toe on the statute of Grgur Ninski (bishop Gregory of Nin), and then played a round of picigin at Bačvice beach. But that was not the end of our visit to the stunning seaboard and its points of interest and we made it to Ragusa (the Latin name of Dubrovnik), home to Držić, Gundulić, Paljetak, Bošković and many others, and went for a stroll along Stradun, the main street in the old town. We continued our dynamic tour in Staševice where we met the dear Fra’ Binko Prlić, then on to Krvavica, Zmijavci and the local mayor Miroslav Karoglan and other wonderful people and places.
We wrapped up our stay in Vrgorac and visit to the Dalmatia region, before heading off to Zagreb on August 12th, in Međugorje. We started and ended our visit with the Queen of Peace. That evening we made it to Zagreb and were on St Mark’s Square by midnight to tour this beautiful city and its points of interest.
After a short night we opened the new day with a prayer at the grave of the Blessed Ivan Merz at the Heart of Jesus basilica in Zagreb (there is also a Blessed Ivan Merz Centre in Karaševo) before visiting the State office for Croatians Abroad, where we were cordially welcomed by the deputy head of the office Petar Barišić. At the CHF we were warmly greeted by the editor of the Web portal, Nives Antoljak and other CHF staffers. Later that day we visited the cathedral and the grave of the Blessed Alojzija Stepinac. We read the inscription ”Navik on živi, ki zgine pošteno” (Who dies honourably, lives forever) and remembered the unjust executions of Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan. Late that afternoon we departed from our dear Zagreb and headed back to the Croatian towns in Romania and enjoyed a safe and peaceful journey to our homes, arriving after midnight on August 13th.
I trust that this wonderful experience will long be recounted by pupils Branko Duma (1st year secondary school in Temišvar (Timişoara)), Marjan Radić (4th year secondary school in Rešici) and by students Marija Moldovan (1st year in Temišvar), Slavica Dragija (2nd year in Temišvar), Marija Vatav (1st year in Ričica), Denis Moldovan (3rd year in Temišvar). Our driver Marjan safely chauffeured us in a van generously provided by Mr Marjan Padinjanac.
Text by: Petar Hategan