Vincentian Family Croatia: 400th Anniversary National Pilgrimage

by | Jun 5, 2017 | News

The national pilgrimage guided by the motto “Following the path of martyrs” held on May 13, 2017 was the central 400th anniversary event for Vincentian Family Croatia.

It gathered members of all seven branches of Vincentian Family Croatia and included a pilgrimage to the grave of a Vincentian martyr Sr. Žarka Ivasić in Gospić, who was a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul – Zagreb. Also the pilgrims visited the Church of Croatian Martyrs in Udbina, which is a national shrine. Members of Vincentian Family of neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and France as well participated in the event.

Vincentian charism has been present in Croatia since 1845 when the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul arrived in Zagreb. A brief historical account of the development of the charism from that time on was presented during the conference held in Udbina and a specific focus was given to the present reality of the charism as lived in particular branches. Also, the Vincentian megaproject focused on homelessness was introduced as well as the invitation to the symposium in Rome. The pilgrimage was concluded by the eucharistic celebration.

Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, Superior General, expressed his joy and support of the growth of Vincentian Family in Croatia in his letter which was read during the conference:

Rome, 06/05/2017

To all the members of the Vincentian Family in Croatia!

Dear brothers and sisters!

It is with tremendous joy and happiness than I can greet all of you who are today the 13th of May, 2017 taking part in the pilgrimage to the grave of the martyr Sr. Žarka Ivasić, a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, killed in May 1946 who tirelessly served the poor,  sick, wounded during World War II.

Through all of you I also extend my warmest greetings to all the rest of the members of the Vincentian Family who could not take part in today’s pilgrimage!

The Vincentian Family in Croatia is presently composed by the Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Mary of the Miraculous Medal, Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Missionaries of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentian Marian Youth, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Depaul Croatia.

This year we celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism.

It is a year of Grace for all of us!

It is a year where we can grow even more as a family, to get to know each other better, to deepen our collaboration, to pray, learn, serve and dream together!

If a person dreams alone a dream remains a dream, if we dream together, the dream becomes a reality!

Each branch has its own identity, but we do belong to the same family, we have the same Spirituality, the same Charism!

This Jubilee year is also a wonderful opportunity to bring together even more our God given gifts, talents and put them into the service of common projects on a local, national and international level.

Our Vincentian Identity, our Vincentian Spirituality, our Vincentian Charism call us to follow in the steps of St. Vincent de Paul, who was totally taken by Jesus, Jesus as the Evangelizer of the Poor!

Vincent de Paul saw and met Jesus in the Poor and the Poor in Jesus!

Vincent de Paul did not walked alone but did invite and brought along, in all this  period of the 400 years millions  of followers, collaborators all up to this days, persons who where and are  completely taken by the love towards the Poor, the love towards Jesus in the Poor, the love towards the Poor in Jesus!

Vincent de Paul so often emphasised that love needs to be affective but also effective!

To see Jesus in the Poor and the Poor in Jesus is what make our love affective.

To collaborate, pray, reflect, plan and act together, is what makes our love effective.

One of the initiatives in this Jubilee Year of the 400 Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism is the Worldwide Symposium of the Vincentian Family from the 13 to the 15 of October in Rome.

The three day event will include many events for different language groups, youth, young men and women preparing for Consecrated life, night vigil encounter with pope Francis, closing Eucharist.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite and encourage you  to make all possible to participate at the symposium, to organise yourself as a branch or as a Vincentian Family as a whole,  to come together to Rome to the symposium.

To participate at  the symposium are also invited all those who do not officially belong to a specific branch or group of the Vincentian Family but feel close to the Charism and Spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul: like parishes, schools, collaborators in different projects or other groups or individuals.

I hope and pray to meet you all in October in Rome, to spend this three beautiful days together!

Let’s keep praying for one another, and dream together, for our dreams to become a reality!

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal! Pray for us!
St. Vincent de Paul! Pray for us!
Sr Žarka Ivasić! Pray for us!
All the other Blessed and Saints of the Vincentian Family! Pray for us!

Tomaž Mavrič CM
Superior General


Sr. Žarka Julijana Ivasić was born on 18 November 1908 in Krašić, where she lived before entering the Convent of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Zagreb in 1931.

The growth of Julijana’s faith and her choice of a religious vocation were firmly grounded in the faith she witnessed among her parents, family and parish. In choosing her vocation, Julijana followed the example of her older sister Terezija (Sister Hildeberta) and many other local girls.

Julijana received the religious name of Sister Žarka upon entering the novitiate in 1932 and took her perpetual vows in 1936.

Sister Žarka’s service to God and humanity was primarily expressed in her ministry to the sick. After serving at hospitals in Gračac, Banja Luka and Petrinja, she worked at the hospital in Otočac from 1939 to 1943.

During World War II, the hospital in Otočac was caught in the maelstrom of the military conflict. Its patients came from a variety of backgrounds including combatants from the various warring factions. Sister Žarka strove to treat everyone equally, without prejudice, in accordance with her vocation as a Sister of Charity which involved bearing witness to Jesus Christ by loving every human being. Yet, this was the reason why the communist authorities accused Sister Žarka and sentenced her to death by hanging.

A request from her Order that the conviction be commuted to a lesser sentence only succeeded in altering the method of execution, such that on 16 May 1946 Sister Žarka was executed by firing-squad in Gospić. She lies buried near the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene in the cemetery at Gospić.

Her last days in Gospić prison, and the manner in which she went to her death, left many witnesses with images of a courageous and devoted Christian – a nun who faced death with unswerving faith in the Lord. The voices that bore witness to the martyr’s death of Sister Žarka continue to live on, inspiring Christian faith and love of neighbour.


O Lord, compassionate Father,
who taught us through your Son
that all your law
consists of the commandment
to love you and our neighbour,
and who in your servant Sister Žarka
gave us a model of devoted service
to the poor and sick
unto a martyr’s death,
grant us through her intercession
that we shall merit the joy of eternal life
by loving you above all things
and our neighbour as ourselves,
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.


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