National Club Poljica was the dream of insightful and devoted
individuals who wanted to preserve their culture, heritage, and
homeland. A group who left their homeland years before to come
to America in search of opportunity and wanted to share their
success with those back home.
was founded in 1946 and was organized as a religious, cultural
and social entity dedicated to building relationships with fellow
Poljicani in Chicago. This proud hard-working group of immigrants
recognized the importance of assisting churches in any way possible.
Financial goals of the organization focused on raising funds to
send back to need parishes in Poljica and surrounding Chicago
parishes-St. Jerome, Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart. Over the years,
contributions of parishes in Poljica have been critical in keeping
them going. Even recently with the war, Club Poljica has worked
to help those needy victims.
Club Poljica is a religious and fraternal organization creating
an environment for club members and their families to gather annually
for several events. With St. Jerome Church as our cornerstone,
we've hosted events, meetings and have maintained our primary
mission-to build our relationship with God, the members and the parish. The strength of St. Jerome has also been the strength
of Club Poljica, and together we continue to grow.
has even has a role politically-many visits from Chicago's mayors,
aldermen and judges of Croatian and non-Croatian decent have attended
our events throughout the years. In fact, it was not long ago
when Croatians were proud to have one of our own-Mike Bilandic,
reside as mayor of Chicago, and attend our annual Bakalar Vecera.
later, 2nd and 3rd generations of our founding members are here
today continuing the legacy. Club Poljica has stood the test of
time and as long as the Poljicani continue to preserve their heritage
and beliefs, there will always be a Club Poljica.
of Poljica is the most important monument of ancient heritage.
Besides other relevant facts, it ensured Poljica's independence,
sovereignty and unity through many centuries.
for dear life, Poljica did not leave any traces of external brilliance-it
has no aristocracy, princes, castles, or fortresses. Poljica was
left the Statute, which reflects its pride, bravery, sweetness
of freedom, and true rural democracy.
of Poljica was written in Poljica's Bosnian alphabet in the ancient
church of St. Klement in Sitno.
time of national rule, and halfway through the Middle Ages, two
republics were formed within the framework of Croatian state territory-the
Republic of Poljica and the republic of Dubrovnik. Each within
their own distinctiveness, both were located on the Adriatic coast.
In the early
years, the only route by land from Dubrovnik to Split was through
lower Poljica. Most countries wanted to rule Poljica so that they
could dictate and dominate this important and strategic location.
the difficult historical circumstances and harsh geographical
location of the mountainous region, the existence of the rustic
Republic of Poljica for almost seven centuries is considered a
unique case in the whole of Europe.
NAME AND GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
name for Poljica today is the Republic of Poljica. As far as it
is known, Poljica was named as a republic for the first time by
an Italian travel writer, Alberto Fortis, in 1774. Poljica was
named after the small fields, which developed along the foot of
Mosor mountain and smaller adjoining mountains.
divided into three areas or zones: Upper Poljica (Zagorska) which
lies behind Mosor, is farthest from the Adriatic Sea and is in
the hinterland of Mosor; Middle Poljica (Zavrska), the largest
part of Poljica (50%) extends from the Zrnovnica River to the
Cetina River at Zadvarje; Lower Poljica (Primorska), built on
the remnants of the ancient Greek colony Eqetium, which extends
along the sea from Omis to the village of Stobrec.
The area of
Poljica covers about 250 square km. As of 1971, Poljica's population
was estimated at 14,137 and was rapidly increasing in Lower Poljica
due to general migration of the population and tourism. Today,
Poljica's population is estimated at approximately 20,000.
At the beginning
of the 7th century, the Croats migrated from the north behind
the Carpat mountains to the coast of the Adriatic sea. At that
time, they settled in the region of Poljica where remnants of
the Illyrians and Romans have been found. As a people, the Croats
were well organized. In the 9th century (during the time of Prince
Mislav) Croatia was so powerful at the sea that she imposed her
rule over the Adriatic.
In time, Hungarian-Croatian
kings assumed rule over Croatia. Shortly thereafter, inhabitants
of Split took advantage of the newly developed situation by receiving
endowments from those kings in which villages of Poljica were
assigned to them
THE BEGINNING OF POLJICA
state was divided into districts and the districts into parishes.
To avoid Hungarian-Croatian kings assigning their own men to Poljica
districts, the people of Poljica organized and founded the "parish
commune" where they could live according to their own laws.
The parish commune was divided into twelve villages, which they
named after twelve larger villages of Poljica:
Dolac Donji and Gornje Polje
POLJICA: Kostanje, Zvecanje, Cisla, Gata, Dubrava, Sitno and
Duce, Jesenice and Podstrana
Five of the
twelve villages were greatly populated by free peasants from Split
origin, and are therefore called free peasant composite villages.
The other composite villages were populated by descendants of
the three brothers (noted to be founders of Poljica). Each of
the twelve villages elected an elder, or little duke, to serve
as leader. The little dukes of free peasant composite villages
did not share the same rights as little dukes of the other villages-they
could vote, but not be elected to the government of Poljica due
to their ties with Split.
dating back to the 15th century mention three brothers as founders
of the parish commune of Poljica. According to tradition, Tisimir,
Kresimir and Elem, sons of Croatian king Miroslav, escaped from
Bosnia to Poljica. Each brother is credited to having occupied
Upper, Middle and Lower Poljica during the mid 15th century.
THE BOSNIAN AND VENETIAN PERIOD
under Bosnian rule in the first part of the 14th century. To be
free of Bosnian rule, Poljica put itself under Venetian protection
(this political act has been confirmed). Poljica having kept its
own government and internal autonomy, came under Venetian protectorate,
recognized its sovereign command, paid tribute and provided soldiers.
THE TURKISH PERIOD
In 1500, the
autonomy of Poljica and the freedom of its people entered a new
and difficult period as the Turks arrived at their borders. This
was the beginning of a long, persistent and bloody fight of the
people of Poljica against the Turks. This brutal conflict between
the Turks and Poljicani lasted, with some interruption, until
the end of the 17th century.
battle with the Turks must be cited. In 1530, as the Turks were
encamped in Gata, the people of Poljica, though less in number,
defeated their army with the heroic and noble efforts of Mila
Gojsalic. Mila sacrificed her life by lighting gunpowder in the
Turkish camp, which allowed the people of Poljica to defeat the
confused and surprised army. With this act, Mila became a legend
of courage, love and sacrifice, not only for the people of Poljica,
but also for Croatia. She is remembered much like the Old Testament's
Judith and France's Joanne d'Arc.
The last and
most severe invasion in Upper Poljica occurred on the 4th of July,
1686. Under the leadership of a young priest, Juraj Pezelj, the
people of Poljica fiercely resisted the Turks and sent them fleeing.
In the uprising, exceptional courage was shown by two young girls,
Mare Zuljevic and Bare Leksic.
In 1797, the
authority of Venice fell in Dalmatia, and Austria took over. Austria
prohibited the right of assembly, freedom of gathering and deliberation
without permission of higher authority. The leadership was not
for long, as the French would enter the political and war scene.
In 1806, Austria
ceded Dalmatia to Napoleon with the peace treaty in Pozun on December
26th. With French occupancy of Poljica came crimes that today
have not faded away from the memory of generations that followed
was not a village or family that was not harmed, no church that
was not plundered."
In 1912, the
desire for freedom was so deeply rooted in the people of Poljica
that they organized all the territory of the one-time Republic
of Poljica into municipalities with their administration in Priko.
In 1945, the Republic of Poljica was abolished by communist authority
and its region divided between the communes of Split and Omis.
However, consciousness and pride about its existence throughout
history is present in the hearts of the people of Poljica.
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mountainous face (Dinaric Alps) turns to the Adriatic Sea, where
Dalmatia's coast falls precipitously to an island strewn sea.
Dalmatia, a region of Croatia, was the ancestral homeland of the
founding fathers and pioneers of our Club Sinj, the Club named
after their famed village "Sinj".
area of Dalmatia stretches from the city of Zadar on the north,
to the much known tourist city of Dubrovnik on the south.
Roman province, Dalmatia was incorporated into Croatia and remained
under Croatian rule for several centuries. In the 1400's, Venice
gained control of Dalmatia, the Venetian Empire ruling it for
four centuries. In 1797, rule changed to Austria, and then in
1806 Austria ceded Dalmatia to Napoleon and French occupancy.
In due course, rule was regained by the Austrian Empire, and eventually,
Dalmatia would become a region of Croatia.
is renown for its maritime ship building industry, tourism and
a wine producing area. The seaside city of Split is its economic
and tourist center.
It is Sinj,
a small picturesque and famed village in Dalmatia, 34 km from
Split, that identifies with our club and is the focus of our interest.
Sinj is well known for the Alka Tournament with horsemen held
every year in early August. Prior to and immediately following
World War I (1914-1918) there began an exodus of people from Dalmatia
to the great country across the ocean they called America. Among
them were people from Sinj.
America, a great number of them settled in Chicago and found a
place in the American work world. They took jobs as construction
laborers, streetcar track laborers, and some as well diggers.
church minded, with their Catholic religion and helped to first establish
a church at 25th and Princeton (1912) and later in 1922
a larger church at 28th and Princeton named St. Jerome Croatian
Catholic Church. World War II erupted involving America in 1941.
The American born sons of the Sinjani were called into the U.S.
Military Forces and sent abroad to combat axis forces.
the Sinjani parents much concern over the absence and safety of
their sons. They were also distressed about their kin at the war
zones of Dalmatia whom they could not contact. Diversion from
these concerns and anxieties called for social type gatherings
of small groups in homes, church halls, etc. The Sinjani parents
became involved in such gatherings and meetings where they promoted
conversations of a joyous nature and enjoyed the camaraderie of
one another. This social type practice was adopted by many of
the family groups and found to be a consoling factor for the duration
of the war. In the process, it gave rise to the idea that a club
be established whose purpose it would be to be both social and
aid humanitarian causes in Sinj. So it was In March of 1947 that
such a club was formed.
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Club Zadar (CHCZ) was established in February 1993 with the purpose
of serving the cultural and humanitarian needs of the Croatian
people in Croatia and Bosnia - Hercegovina, particularly in the
Zadar area of Croatia. The club holds annual fundraisers and invites
as guest speakers high government, church, civic, and cultural
leaders from Croatia. Containers of food, medicine, clothes and
other needed items were sent to Croatia during the years of war
for the liberation of Croatia. The club sponsors Croatian war
orphans, hospitals, Zadar Diocesan Caritas, and building of educational
facilities. CHCZ also financially aids Chicago Croatian institutions
and churches and participates in the Croatian Coordination Council
these executive officers serve the membership; Tomo Shegich, President;
Ana Jovic, Treasurer; Melchior Masina, Secretary (For information
call Mr. Masina, 219-942-0118; 219-942-1191; fax:219-942-8808;
address: CHCZ, 521 Brandt, Hobart, IN. 46342)
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The Holy Name
Society is an old Confraternity of the Church, having been established
in 1274 in Spain by Dominican Father John Vercelli in 1274. In
its long history it has constantly pursued its main objectives,
anmely honor for the Sacred Names of God and Our Divine Savior
and the personal sanctification of the individual.
As the family
of nations developed into the complex structure of modern living,
the accidental mechanics of the Holy Name Society have changed
to meet new situations. In 1274 the Society was a vague sort of
organization. Today in the United States, Canada, Australia, and
the English speaking world in general, it has taken on a definite
organizational structure. It has a democratic constitutions, officers
who administer this constitution, and millions of members who
participate in the multitude of spiritual benefits to be found
in the Society. Its basic unit is the parish, where laymen through
close cooperation with their pastors mutually stimulate one another
to follow the age-old objectives of the Confraternity of the Holy
Name. The Holy Name Society always seeks to supplement the work
of the clergy. A strong Holy Name Society is a powerful asset
to any parish. It is quite evident in our modern world that a
parish is not a walled city but rather a sponge through which
seep many forces seeking to divert man from his final end, which
is union with God.
The Holy Name
Society of St. Jerome has been in existence for over 60 years.
It has a rich spiritual and cultural history as well as being
one of the anchors of the parish.
The Holy Name
Society of St. Jerome was founded in 1917. The primary objective
of the Holy Name Society is the personal sanctification of its
members by acts of love and devotion to the Most Holy Name of
Jesus. In the very beginning of its existence (in twenties and
thirties) The Society at St. Jerome received young boys as members.
How active they were shows the award" "First Annual
Hardin Square B. Tournament, 1932. won by St. Jerome Croatians."
The organization's membership is involved in various parish religious
and social events and participates regularly at Sunday Mass as
lectors and Eucharist Ministers.
organizes annual pilgrimage-retreat for its members and their
families to the Holy Hill Shrine in Wisconsin. Currently the Society
has approximately 25 members and actively seeks and welcomes new
membership. Current officers include:
President: Mr. Nino Folino
Those interested can contact parish rectory at 312 842 1871 or
e-mail us at Grbes@aol.com
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West 29th Street
In 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, a group of sports
minded teenagers decided to form a club, and started holding monthly
meetings at Armour Square Park field house. Their next objective
was to seek a sponsor and were successful when they contacted
the late John Gabric, a neighborhood druggist who operated on
west 31st Street. In tribute to Mr. Gabric we still carry his
name. In search of a place to call their clubroom, the charter
members rented a basement apartment at 336 West 29th Street. With
Club membership on the rise and in need of more space, a few years
later they moved a block east to 242 West 29th Street. Not long
after, the Club made yet another move, which was to be the last,
to our present location, 305 West 29th Street, where the Club
has remained for over 50 years.
president was the late Sam "Cucci" Mustari, succeeded
by the late James Giglio, better known as "Ty". Ty had
served as president for over 35 years. Much credit must be given
to Ty for his leadership during those years in keeping the Gabric
Boosters growing while many neighborhood clubs fell by the wayside.
In 1976 Ty passed away and was succeeded by the then vice-president,
Mark Bozich, who has now served as president of the Club for 23
The Club represents
the association of good friends during a lifetime - it has not
only enriched the lives of its members but of its neighborhood
, its people and its culture. The members excelled in all sports
beginning with baseball at Armour Square Park. Their football
team was undefeated for several years. Their basketball team registered
a chain of fourteen successful victories. As the members grew
older, bowling leagues and golf outings took over. Their social
events drew crowds from everywhere.
membership includes many nationalities, the members served on
committees that were needed for the progress of St. Jerome Church.
Bozich - President
Zito Vice - President
Bozinovich - Secretary
Sablich - Treasurer
club, which was founded on February 2, 1917, is associated with
St. Jerome parish in Chicago, and its purpose is to help its members
in cases of illness or death. Each member is obligated to pay
monthly memberships, and the money is used for various needs of
the members. The club pays for its sick members , and in cases
of death, the funeral expenses are taken care of. The leadership
of the club is made up by : the president, vice-president, treasurer,
secretary, financial secretary, a priest and five board members.
They hold elections at the end of each year and the new leaders
take responsibility at the first meeting of the new year.
was founded by Croatians who originated from the island of Cres,
so that they could take care of their friends and one another
in cases of illness or death. We must keep in mind that the beginning
of this century was very difficult for many immigrants, because
many of them were without family, nor did they know the English
language, so they had no one to take care of them. The forming
of this club was a wonderful and successful idea and worthy of
much praise because so many of its members benefited in times
of need. The club was "exclusive" in a way because it
was open to men and women who originated from or were married
to someone from Cres. Unfortunately, there is not much information
or any records about the club, and today its public activities
are mainly expressed on first Sunday after Easter when all the
club members get together for their annual Mass. On this occasion
all the members go to Confession and actively participate in Mass.
The only published document remaining is the bylaws which were
printed in a booklet in both Croatian and English. It does not
say when the booklet was published, but we know that it was printed
at the Croatian Franciscan press on Drexel boulevard in Chicago.
here for more information about the 2007 Club Cres 90th
JEROME POST AND AUXILIARY NO 595
War II ended, the veterans who returned from all branches of service
felt the need for joining groups who could help them with getting
benefits they were entitled to and also helping out those who
were in Veterans' Hospitals and needed their services.
Chapters of Catholic War Veterans were formed throughout the 48
states. There were 25 units in the State of Illinois alone..
Post was chartered on March 13, 1946 for the purpose to serve
God, Country and Home in a non-military way. It was decided to
carry our parish name and keep our headquarters in a clubroom
the parish allowed us to have. The first Commander was Nick Matkovich,
an attorney who later became a Judge in the Municipal Court. The
former Mayor of Chicago, Michael Bilandic, is a member of our
Auxiliary was formed in February 1951. The first President was
efforts of Post and Auxiliary, our unit became well known throughout
the State of Illinois and in the National Department as well.
A few of our many programs consisted of: sponsoring scout groups,
volunteering in Veterans' Hospitals, serving the United Service
Clubs, and conducting parties for the hospitalized veterans for
all the holidays throughout the year.
supports our St. Jerome Church with every fund raiser, not only
with sizable monetary donations but with the labor of our men
and women as well.
has received many beautiful trophies and other awards which are
a constant reminder of our much earned rewards for our hard work
in every category of the Catholic War Veterans' programs.
Our Post just
celebrated their Golden Anniversary - 50 years of existence is
a great achievement. With the passing on of many members, our
group is getting smaller but even with the decrease in enrollment,
our charitable projects increase each year through the hard working
Post No. 595 Officers:
Commander: Andrew Yurich
1st Vice Commander:
2nd Vice Commander:
3rd Vice Commander:
Dr. Anthony Batina
the Day: Joseph Dvornik
3 years Anthony Triveri
2 years Frank
1 year John
St. Jerome Auxiliary No. 595 Officers
1st Vice President:
2nd Vice President:
3rd Vice President:
3 years Lila Bozich
2 years Dolores
1 year Martha
Post and Auxiliary No. 595
For further information contact:
in the Homeland
Woman" was founded in 1921, in Zagreb, with a simple mission:
Help Croatians who are in need and less fortunate. Its roots are
directly tied to a movement, which began in the middle ages but
strengthened in the nineteenth century, toward goodwill and Christian
charity. Croatia, much like the rest of the western world, had
a multitude of brotherhoods, fraternities, and organizations focused
on philanthropy and altruism spread throughout the country. After
the first world war and the creation of Yugoslavia many of the
existing and newly founded organizations began to take on Croatian
nationalistic agendas in direct response to the installment of
the pro-Serbian government and its attempt to erase the identity
of Croatian people. Similarly, women involved in Radic's political
party founded "Croatian Heart" with the same goals in
mind: Helping Croatians less fortunate while preserving the Croatian
Catholic culture. In fact, this was the predecessor to the organization
"Croatian Woman", which was founded by Maria Kumicic.
Its first president was Zora pl. Trnski with Ivka barunica Ozegovic
and Maria Kumicic as her vice-presidents. Their names alone, being
the wives of famous writers and political figures in Croatia,
displayed the legitimacy of the organization and its ability to
influence the community. Another display of the organization's
legitimacy was its instant proliferation throughout the country:
In Petrinje (July 1921), Osijek (July 1921), Pozega (July 1921),
Karlovac (September 1921), followed by Jastrebarsko, Sisak, Daruvar,
Gospic, Vukovar, and many other cities in 1922.
From the start
"Croatian Woman", as an organization, was strongly built
with a foundation based on clearly set goals in cultural and humanitarian
fields. Their goodwill is deeply imbedded, far reaching, and felt
by many throughout the world wherever Croatians live and people
are in need. Their work is best exemplified and stated in the
beginning of the organization's bylaws, which were written by
Slava Furst and Julka Patriarch, and were chartered on May 21,
1921. It is stated: "The goal of the organization is to cultivate
a social standard among Croatian women, which is conducive to
the promotion of social, public, economic, moral and humanitarian
health in both national and feminist fields." In order to
achieve this, the women divided the goals into separate categories
and designated four separate branches: cultural, feminist, humanitarian,
and social. Josipa Glembay wrote this song to illustrate their
goals in Osijek in 1922.
work and suffer for your country
unity is our only hope
The day is
near when we will rejoice
in one voice
evil, cherish freedom
this is the
motto of Croatian women."
Their unconditional love for their people led them into many fields
which brought them conflict from the authorities. In the early
twenties during the Serbian monarchy the organization was prohibited
because of their " nationalistic and separatist" functions.
Because of their participation in the celebration of famous Croatian
activists Dr. Starcevic and Radic, where over one thousand people
gathered, the state prohibited the existence of "Croatian
Woman" on June 12, 1922. In nearly the same week "Croatian
Woman" in the city of Karlovac suffered the same fate. The
prohibitions, however, were short-lived. Even though the organization
was punished and prohibited because of their love for their people
and their country, they continued their work with a strong determination.
Despite all of their hard work the N.D.H. shut down all existing
offices of "Croatian Woman" on May 5, 1943. Twenty two
years of humanitarian, cultural, and patriotic work, which began
on Patacickinova street, would cease to exist.
"Croatian Woman" in America
a few years after the foundation of "Croatian Woman"
in Zagreb, its first branch would open in Chicago. It was the
original idea of Agata Durak and her daughter Vilma Strunjak to
start a woman's organization in Chicago's Croatian community.
She brought this idea to the attention of Dominican Father Innocent
Bojanic at the parish of Holy Trinity in Chicago. With his support,
"Croatian Woman, Branch #1-Chicago" was founded on January
27, 1929. Soon the first meeting was called to order with these
women present: Klara Skvorc (first president), Barbara Balija,
Rosalija Kovacevic-Kirin, Rosalija Sedar-Vuksanovic, Frances Frkonja,
Mary Karacic, Borislava Absac, Ruza Cesar, and Magdalena Guldenpfening.
From the beginning, the women decided that their main goals would
be to help people on both cultural and humanitarian levels while
also displaying Croatian culture to American people. Immediately,
the group was active in creating exhibits throughout the greater
Chicagoland area. The state of Illinois recognized the importance
of the organization and granted them a legal charter within the
year. Almost instantly twenty-six other branches registered throughout
thirties and forties, when war engulfed the entire world "Croatian
Woman" did all they could to help. In America and abroad,
they worked with the Red Cross and local hospitals sending packages
to soldiers and medical aid to the wounded. They donated time
and money to help their homeland, Croatia, and everyone who was
suffering and in pain. After the war when Croatian refugees were
scattered all over Europe and South America, "Croatian Woman"
did their best to accommodate their needs.
misfortunes of the war subsided, the organization returned to
one of their original goals of promoting Croatian culture in America.
In the mid-west, the organization showed great support for Duquene
University, one of the first universities to offer Croatian language,
folklore, and music as part of their curriculum. Through this
"Croatian Woman" was able to help educate a new generation
of Croatians born in America, who needed to combine the teachings
of two cultures. It was their goal to teach their children to
be proud both of the United States of America and their Croatian
Even in the
fifties, sixties, and seventies, when the homeland was isolated
by the iron curtain of communism, "Croatian Woman" found
ways to send food, medicine and financial aid to the countless
victims of flooding and earthquakes. Meanwhile, Croatian Catholic
missionaries worked hard, combating misery and poverty, to spread
Christian faith and love. "Croatian Woman" does all
possible to support these missionaries and churches.
Activism Over the Last Fifteen Years
the last fifteen years "Croatian Woman Br. #1" has been
highly active in Chicago's Croatian community. This non-for-profit
organization's social, humanitarian, cultural, and educational
services to this community are magnificent to say the least. It
would be impossible to list everything that they have done for
Croatia and its Chicago community, so we will attempt to share
only a small portion with you.
In 1988, "Croatian
Woman" helped Croatian writers and activists in Croatia and
all over the world. Their aid towards humanitarian groups and
their leaders is only a continuation of their traditional work
since their foundation in 1921. Even when communism's grasp of
the country was the strongest, the organization helped countless
independent film producers and artists spread the truth about
the Croatian tragedy in Yugoslavia. During this time they also
helped Croatian prisoners in America and elsewhere with letters,
petitions, and legal council.
In 1989, the
organization celebrated its sixtieth anniversary and was honored
to receive Dr. Ruzica Cavar from Croatia as the key-note speaker
at their annual banquet. Dr. Cavar is a human rights activist
with a background in medicine. Her speech directly challenged
the women of Chicago to get more involved in the democratic process
here and abroad. As a result, the organization expanded from one
hundred to over two hundred members in the Chicagoland area. The
year 1989 also marked Croatia's decision to secede from Yugoslavia.
"Croatian Woman" was actively involved in materializing
this ages old dream of a free Croatia. From the beginning the
organization raised funds to help Franjo Tudjman, the future president
of Croatia, and other political activists despite knowledge that
these figures were blacklisted by the Yugoslav government, which
made any association life threatening.
In 1990, the
organization strengthened its ties to the Croatian government
and its Catholic church on the road to freedom, independence,
and a brighter future. While doing so, "Croatian Woman"
never forgot about its obligations to the poor and sick. An example
of this was when the organization gathered funds to help a group
of blind children who needed expensive surgeries to see again.
That summer the president of "Croatian Woman" in Chicago,
Zlata Ivezic, secretary Milica Trutin, and treasurer Nevenka Jurkovic,
traveled to Zagreb to help set up the revival of "Croatian
Woman" in its homeland. After forty three years of absence
due to its prohibition in 1943, the organization made its triumphant
return to Zagreb with the establishment of its start-up committee.
In the fall
of that same year "Croatian Woman Branch #1 Chicago"
hosted its first annual fashion show. The proceeds were immediately
sent to Croatia. In October the president, Zlata Ivezic, traveled
to Croatia to attend the first ever Assembly of Croatian Women
in Zagreb. The trip was made special when Zlata Ivezic donated
two thousand dollars in the name of "Croatian Woman Branch
#1 Chicago" and returned the original flag and coat of arms,
two historical artifacts which had been guarded in Chicago for
over sixty years.
In the same
year, the organization sent financial help to coal miners in Tuzla,
and the central catholic Caritas in Zagreb. This is also the year
when the board together with all of its members gathered to revise
and create a new set of goals to take "Croatian Woman Branch
#1 Chicago" into the future. This is a simplified version
of their vision:
* gathering of humanitarian aid and preparing containers(40x10
feet) to be sent to Croatia
pamphlets, petitions, literature etc. for promotion of Croatian
prayer services and vigils in the name of world peace
annual fashion show
of bake sales
olive branches as a sign of peace
In the spring of 1991, when Croatia was in the midst of political,
economical, and regional crisis, the organization sent their first
shipment of humanitarian aid, which would one day amount to over
one hundred containers equaling more than ten million dollars
same year, when everyone donated to the Croatian National Fund,
"Croatian Women" led the way by donating $15,000. They
also sent $5,000 for medicinal needs and $10,000 to wounded soldiers
in escalating war.
before, their activities were not only humanitarian. "Croatian
Woman" also participated in, and organized many rallies and
demonstrations in attempts to help win the battle for Croatian
recognition. It is also important to acknowledge the local parishes
and churches for their help and public approval and support during
1992, Nevenka Jurkovic became president of "Croatian Woman
Br. #1". Obligations and activities would also multiply due
to the ever-growing need for assistance in war-time Croatia. The
organization helped Pr. P. Cohen publish his book about the tragedy
dealt to Jews in Serbia. They also purchased medical equipment
and donated money to wounded soldiers and other victims of the
war. Because of the growing need for financial aid, "Croatian
Woman" found itself organizing at least one fund-raiser/banquet
per month. In March of 1992, proceeds went to Croatian war invalids.
In April, proceeds went to Croatian orphanages throughout the
country. Later, recognizing the possibility of Serb occupation
in eastern Slavonia, the organization sent $4,500 to Osijek. At
the end of the year, "Croatian Woman" co-organized political
rally for American Senator D'Amato at the Croatian Cultural Center
in Chicago as an honored guest.
In 1993, information
was released that the first Croatian embassy would open on American
soil and the organization did their part to help fund it. In March,
after receiving the horrendous news of the mass destruction in
the city of Karlovac, "Croatian Woman" donated $10,000
to its hospital. In June, a banquet for the rape victims was organized
with Jadranka Cigelj herself a victim of the Serbian
camp. She was the main guest speaker. In the same month, president
Nevenka Jurkovic and vice president Marica Tomacic traveled to
Zagreb to attend the first "Croatian Congress of Croatian
Woman" in Zagreb, while members at home conducted a simultaneous
prayer vigil. This would prove to be the definitive moment in
the revival of "Croatian Woman" as an international
organization with its roots finally replanted in Croatian soil.
In a time
when history seems to be written and choreographed by the media,
members of "Croatian Woman", knowing the importance
of information, sent letters, factual documents, and financial
donations to the Croatian Information Center in Zagreb.
November they organized the arrival of the "Croatian National
Theater", famous for their theatrical performances all over
Europe. The organization also invited and brought to Chicago Kata
Soljic, a mother who lost four sons to the war, as a guest speaker.
prove to be a very special year. Beginning with its anniversary
on February the fifth, "Croatian Woman Br. #1-Chicago"
celebrated an astounding sixty-five years of existence. This special
day began at the Croatian Ethnic Institute at 4851 S. Drexel Blvd.,
followed by a holy mass at St. Jerome's church in Bridgeport.
The celebration ended at St. Jerome's banquet hall, where everyone
was honored by the presence of these highly esteemed guests:
Dragica Pandek- president, "Croatian Woman- Zagreb".
- Croatian Ambassador, United Nations, N.Y.
Croatian Parliament representative, Zagreb
president, Croatian Catholic Union for the U.S. and Canada
president, Amcro- New York
"Croatian Woman Br. #32- Detroit"
"Croatian Woman Br. #3- Milwaukee"
and Sister Dora of the Salvatorian Mission House , New Holstein-
this same event, "Croatian Woman Br.#1- Chicago" published
and released its 65th Anniversary edition, which contained local
advertisements and a brief but concise history of the organization.
Also worthy of mention, are the publications for the Chicago branch's
45th, 50th, 55th, and 60th year of existence.
At this time
"Croatian Woman" joined the Croatian World Congress
in meetings held in both Cleveland and Zagreb, and also the Croatian
American Congress in Chicago. Together with CCU and the Croatian
parishes of Chicago, they helped organize the "Action for
Life" annual banquet and which sponsored orphan children
from Croatia and Bosnia. They also organized the Croatian Art
Exhibit in the Chicago State Building which became a yearly event.
In 1995, special
guest Damir Plavsic, president of HVIDRA (students wounded in
war), was present at the banquet held at the Croatian Cultural
Center which raised $25,000 for the wounded Croatian students.
In October, "Croatian Woman" had its yearly Fashion
Show which was special this year due to the fact that models displayed
Croatian ethnic costumes. The organization also raised $5,000
for the Franciscan monastery in Konavle, near Dubrovnik. They
also donated $8,000 to the "Croatian American Association"
whose main function is to lobby for Croatian causes in Washington.
need to be thanked for the success of "Croatian Woman":
From the countless volunteers like Milica Trutin and Nina Perovic
who individually helped pack the containers, to the organizations
like the Croatian Catholic Union and the Salvatorian Mission House
in Wisconsin, and all of the Croatian Parishes in Chicago who
actively participated in this project. In all one hundred containers
filled with over ten million dollars worth of aid was sent to
various cities in Croatia. These cities all confirmed arrival
and expressed their appreciation: Zagreb, Rijeka, Mostar, Zadar,
Sibenik, Vrlika, Ljubuski, Klostar Ivanic, Sinj, Osijek, Djakovo,
Imotski, Karlovac, Vinkovci, Poljica kod Omisa, Sestanovci-Katuni,
Posusje, Split, Siroki Brijeg, Makarska, Dubrovnik, Slavonski
Brod, Vrgorac, Tomislav Grad, Gabela Polje-Metkovic, and Capljina,
including different groups in Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina.
Woman" also gave a helping hand to social groups here in
Chicago area, such as Mercy Home, Children's Memorial Hospital,
and Misericordia etc.
In 1996, "Croatian
Woman" held their sixty-seventh anniversary banquet at the
Croatian Cultural Center in Chicago, raising money for political
prisoners and their families in the U.S. In May, they organized
the emotionally touching exhibit at DePaul University which displayed
the art work of children who had witnessed and survived the atrocities
of the war in Croatia. That same year in October, their fashion
show raised $25,000 to the Dubrava Center in Zagreb for handicapped
children and young adults. They also raised $4,000 for the Croatian
Cultural Center in Vukovar to help rebuild the devastated city.
In 1997, the
annual banquet brought to Chicago special guests Cardinal Vinko
Puljic from Sarajevo, Mrs. Ljilja Vokic- Minister of Education
and Sports in Croatia, and her assistant Mrs. Vlasta Sabljak.
In June, "Croatian Woman" organized an art exhibit featuring
the works of the famous naive artist Ivan Lackovic which were
displayed in the halls of the Croatian Ethnic Institute in Chicago.
They also gave another $1,000 to the Croatian American Association.
to be another noteworthy year. Of the many actions taken most
notable was the donation of $30,000 to the University of Mostar.
They also co-organized an exhibit honoring Cardinal Alojzija Stepinac
and the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. They also helped
sponsor a book by Dr. Ante Cuvalo named The Historical Dictionary
of Bosnia and Hecegovina, which was sent to the libraries of all
major universities and many government officials. In January,
"Croatian Woman" joined several other organizations
in their support for "Friends of Vukovar" and donated
$3,000 to help rebuild their center for handicapped children.
In June, they helped organize the book signing of "Healing
the Heart of Croatia". Present at the Croatian Cultural Center
were authors Fr. Joseph Kerigan, and world renown pediatric heart
surgeon Dr. William M. Novick. Dr. Novick is a professor at the
University of Tennessee and also the medical director of the "International
Children's Heart Foundation". Together with Fr. Kerigan,
the Associate Catholic Priest at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception
in Tennessee, the two traveled to Zagreb and saved the lives of
countless children from certain death. "Croatian Woman"
has decided to give all proceeds of the upcoming fashion show
to this cause. So far, they have raised $7,000.
It is apparent
that this exceptionally worthy organization of Croatian women
in Chicago bravely wrote their own history through good willed actions and heart-felt love. Their support for all things related
to love, humanity, culture, and the Croatian identity must be
recognized and honored. These past days of hardship and years
of labor, seventy to be exact, are testament to the fact that
through times of Croatian tragedy and persecution, Croatian women
and mothers, wherever they might be, will always keep their hearts
full of love and their eyes full of hope. Hopefully young women
and wives, here in America and in Croatia, will recognize the
importance of what their mothers and grandmothers established
through blood, sweat, and tears over a centuries work, and realize
that the next century will only be as beautiful and rewarding
through the same good willed labor and heart-felt love which is
exemplified in the Croatian Woman's motto, "it is good to
Fr. Jozo Grbes
by Ivan & Mario Jurkovic)