The club’s activities have also served to remind the younger generations of the twelve settlements of the autonomous 13th to 19th century Poljica Duchy. One of these settlements is Kostanje, home to the Klapa Pasika. They travelled to the USA at the invitation of Poljica region natives in Chicago to sing for their anniversary festivities.
A hundred years ago Chicagoans with roots in the Poljica region founded a heritage society in memory of the place of their origin – the association saw a number of name changes until it was renamed the Club Poljica in 1946, operating within the St Jerome’s church parish. The club was founded as a benefit, religious and social community that gathered people from Poljica in Chicago. The aid they sent to the homeland was targeted largely to the Poljica parish and, during the Homeland War of Independence, was also directed at assisting victims of the war waged against Croatia.
Members of the local church choir founded the Klapa Pasika in 1998.
A festivity to mark the 100th anniversary of the Club Poljica was held September 6th at St Jerome parish in Chicago. The first concert was staged at the church, with Fra’ Stipe Renić serving as host. Bishop of Dubrovnik Monsignor Mate Uzinić spoke to the gathered after the concert. He is a native of the village of Dubrava in the Poljica region and also travelled from Croatia for the occasion.
Speaking on behalf of the Croatian Heritage Foundation was Branka Bezić Filipović, who also read a letter from Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Zlatko Ževrnja. The final speaker was Club Poljica president Mate Matthew Vulić whom the Klapa Poljica presented with gifts for the occasion. The programme continued with a gala dinner at the church’s social hall.
A mass was served two days later at St Jerome’s church led by Monsignor Mate Uzinić, with the Klapa Pasika on hand in the role of the church choir. Besides at the mass for the late Zvonko Bušić, where Fra’ Jozo Grbeš delivered an inspiring sermon, the Klapa Pasika also sang at a mass led by Fra’ Ivica Majstorović at the Blessed Alojzija Stepinac church. The group also visited the homes of many families with roots in Poljica and joined sports fans in following the action during the Croatia-Serbia football (soccer) match at the Croatian Radio Club.
Thanks to the collaboration between the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the Croatian American Cultural Center in Sacramento, the Klapa Pasika also had an opportunity to perform for audiences in California. The Croatians living in the capital of this US state hosted the Klapa Pasika for several unforgettable days, a favour they returned with excellent concert performances at the association’s social hall. The association’s president Mike Matošević, a tailor, presented the members of the Klapa Pasika band with complimentary neckties.
The members of the Croatian American Cultural Center of Sacramento took the members of the Klapa Pasika for a visit of the Croatian-owned wineries in the Napa Valley, the first of which was the famed winery of Miljenko Grgić. They were received by Grgich’s nephew Ivo Jeramaz, who showed them a wine bottled for Grgich’s 90th birthday. The Klapa Pasika also visited the Rutherford Ranch, a winery operated for the past three generations by the Zaninović family whose origins are from the island of Hvar.
The Klapa Pasika is also slated to travel to Australia soon, where it will join the Klapa Intrade for its first performance there.
This autumn the Croatians of Chicago are celebrating another major anniversary – the 100th anniversary of the Croatian ethnic church of the Holy Heart of Jesus. These anniversaries only serve to remind us of the long history of Croatian emigration from the homeland.
Text by: Branka Bezić Filipović