Recently, between the 3rd and the 6th of April, 34 friars from the Venice Province, priests and students, paid a visit to the friars of the Croatian Province. The visit arose from the desire to rediscover the existing ties between the two Provinces. From the 1950s to the end of the 1960s, some Croatian students and theologians carried out their studies for the licentiate and the first years of theological training in the Venice Province. Relations between the two were widened when Croatia declared itself independent in 1991. From Verona and Trieste, much aid was sent to the Croatian monasteries for the thousands of displaced people who sought assistance from our friars. During the same period, various of our Croatian priests, who had to finish their theological studies in Rome, lived in the Santa Teresa monastery.
The first day of sharing together took place in the Spirituality House of the Sisters of St Vincent de Paul of Lužnica, some 20 km from Zagreb. Fathers Rodolfo Girardello (Venice), Jakov Mamić and Srecko Rimac (the second and the present Provincials of Croatia), gave firsthand witness to the historical ties between both Provinces. There was also time to exchange formative experiences (Fr Petar from Graz, and Fr Gianni from Trent), as well as discussing the Carmelite charism and the urgency of transmitting it to the laity (Fr Antonio Sicari).
On the second day, the friars transferred to Zagreb, where they were able to venerate the relics of blessed Alojzije Stepinac in the cathedral, as well as visiting the old city. In the afternoon, after eating at Remete, the Venetian and Croatian friars went to the national sanctuary of Marija Bistrica, [Our lady of Bistrica ─ the Black Madonna], to celebrate Mass at which presided our Brother Monsignor Zdenko Križić, ocd, with whom we also had the opportunity of greeting our discalced Carmelite nuns. It was a rich experience of getting to know one another, in the opinion of all those taking part.