Croatian Franciscan


Club Poljica - Club Sinj -
Club Zadar - Holy Name Society -
Croatian Women -
Club Cres -
St. Jerome Post and Auxiliary
No. 595
- The Gabric Boosters

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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.

Club Poljica 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.

Socially, 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.

Club Poljica 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.

Fifty years 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.


The Statute 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.

Fighting continually 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.

The Statute of Poljica was written in Poljica's Bosnian alphabet in the ancient church of St. Klement in Sitno.


During the 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.

Because of 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.


The prevailing 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.

Poljica is 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 Croatian 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:

UPPER POLJICA: Dolac Donji and Gornje Polje

MIDDLE POLJICA: Kostanje, Zvecanje, Cisla, Gata, Dubrava, Sitno and Srinjine

LOWER POLJICA: 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.

Documents 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.


Poljica fell 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.


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.

One particular 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…"there 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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Croatia's 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".

The coastal area of Dalmatia stretches from the city of Zadar on the north, to the much known tourist city of Dubrovnik on the south.

An ancient 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.

Today, Dalmatia 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.

Arriving in 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.

They were 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.

This caused 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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Croatian Humanitarian 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 of Chicago.

Presently 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.

Our Society 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

Vice President: Marcus Molina

Treasurer: Ken Kozlar

Secretary: Matthew Pesce

Those interested can contact parish rectory at 312 842 1871 or e-mail us at

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305 West 29th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 326-6220

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.

Our first 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 years.

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.

Although the membership includes many nationalities, the members served on committees that were needed for the progress of St. Jerome Church.


Mark "Motsy" Bozich - President

Frank "Buddy" Zito Vice - President

Ed "Eddie" Bozinovich - Secretary

John "Scotty" Sablich - Treasurer

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This benevolent 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.

This club 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.

Click here for more information about the 2007 Club Cres 90th Anniversary Celebration.

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After World 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.

Several hundred Chapters of Catholic War Veterans were formed throughout the 48 states. There were 25 units in the State of Illinois alone..

St. Jerome 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 unit.

The Ladies Auxiliary was formed in February 1951. The first President was Vera Bozich.

Through joint 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.

Our group 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.

Our Auxiliary 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 remaining members.

St. Jerome Post No. 595 Officers:

Commander: Andrew Yurich

1st Vice Commander: James Sutera

2nd Vice Commander: John Sintich

3rd Vice Commander: Anthony Sinople

Adjutant: Dr. Anthony Batina

Treasurer: Mark Bozich

Judge Advocate: John Radivoy

Welfare Officer: Jeff Grybas

Historian: Anthony Tadin

Officer of the Day: Joseph Dvornik

Service Officer: Edward Bozinovich

Trustees: 3 years Anthony Triveri

2 years Frank Barbarich

1 year John Basic

St. Jerome Auxiliary No. 595 Officers

President: Vera Bozich

1st Vice President: Martha Depeder

2nd Vice President: Frances Grybas

3rd Vice President: Joan Sipich

Secretary: Theresa Bujas

Treasurer: Cathy Amato

Welfare Officer: Rosemarie Senese

Historian: Eleanor Grzetich

Ritual Officer: Toni Zaninovich

Trustees: 3 years Lila Bozich

2 years Dolores Crane

1 year Martha Depeder

Chaplain for Post and Auxiliary No. 595

Rev. Jozo Grubisich, O.F.M.

For further information contact:

Mrs. Vera Bozich

2822 South Wells Street

Chicago, Illinois 60616

(312) 326-1837

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Its Origin in the Homeland

"Croatian 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.

Live work and suffer for your country

For Croatian unity is our only hope

The day is near when we will rejoice

Sing proudly in one voice

"Condemn 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

Only 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 the country.

During the 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.

After the 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 heritage.

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

Over 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

* creating pamphlets, petitions, literature etc. for promotion of Croatian causes

* organizing prayer services and vigils in the name of world peace

* collecting of donations

* creating fund raisers

* organizing annual fashion show

* organization of bake sales

* selling 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 in value.

During the 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.

As stated 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 this time.

In 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 concentration 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.

In 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.

1994 would 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".

Mario Nobilo - Croatian Ambassador, United Nations, N.Y.

Gordana Turic- Croatian Parliament representative, Zagreb

Anthony Petrusic- president, Croatian Catholic Union for the U.S. and Canada

Anthony Beric- president, Amcro- New York

Snjezana Franetovic- "Croatian Woman Br. #32- Detroit"

Pola Maydak- "Croatian Woman Br. #3- Milwaukee"

Jasminka Corluka- "Croatian Woman-Montreal"

Brother Regis and Sister Dora of the Salvatorian Mission House , New Holstein- Wisc.

At 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.

Many people 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.

"Croatian 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.

1998 proved 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 do good".

Fr. Jozo Grbes

(translated by Ivan & Mario Jurkovic)

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