Interviews with the visionaries’ former spiritual advisor and world renowned pschologist, the late Fr. Slavko Barbaric.
Dr. Fr. Slavko Barbaric, OFM
Father Slavko Barbaric died on November 24, 2000 at 3.30 p.m. After the Way of the Cross, that he animated usually every Friday on the Hill of Krizevac for parishioners and pilgrims, he felt some pain. He sat down on a rock, then lay down on the ground, lost consciousness and gave his soul over to the Lord.
Father Slavko Barbaric was born on March 11, 1946, as the son of Marko and Luca born Stojic at Dragicina (parish of Cerin). He attended elementary school in Cerin and then went on to high school in Dubrovnik. He entered into the Franciscan order at Humac on July 14, 1965. He made his final vows September 17, 1971. He was ordained priest the December 19, 1971. He studied at Sarajevo, Graz and Freiburg. He finished his studies at Graz (Austria) with a master’s degree. After 5 years of pastoral service in the province of Herzegovina, in the parish of Capljina, he continued his studies at Freiburg, where he obtained his doctorate in religious pedagogy and the title of psychotherapist.
As Franciscan priest, he was in Capljina from 1973 to 1978. From the spring of 1982 to September 1984, he was chaplain for students at Mostar, and he held retreats in the house of religious sisters at Bijelo Polje near Mostar. His fruitful work with the students and his retreats very well accepted by the students, however, the Communist government in power at that time persecuted him. In those difficult moments, his eminence, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, protected father Slavko’s mission.
Thanks to his knowledge of the main European language and despite his numerous obligations in different parishes, father Slavko put himself ceaselessly at the service of Medjugorje pilgrims from the time he finished his studies and came back to the country in 1982. He was officially sent to Medjugorje in 1983. According to the order of Mgr. Zanic, bishop of Mostar, he was transferred to the parish of Blagaj, and in 1988 to Humac, where he was parish vicar and assistant of the master of novices.
At the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when all elderly friars were exiled to Tucepi, with the oral accord of + father Drago Tolj, former provincial, father Slavko remained at Medjugorje.
From the very beginning of his mission in Medjugorje, father Slavko has been writing spiritual books: «Pray With the Heart», «Give Me Your Wounded Heart», «Celebrate Mass With the Heart», «In the School of Love», «Adore my Son With the Heart», «With Jesus and Mary Climbing the Golgotha to Meet the Risen Lord», «Pray Together with a Joyful Heart», Interviews, and «Fast With the Heart», which is now in print. Fr. Slavko Barbaric’s books have been translated in twenty languages and more than 20 million copies have been printed in the whole world. He published also numerous articles in various publications. He was editor of the St Francis’ Bulletin in Capljina, collaborated in Krsni Zavicaj, Glas Mira and the Radio “Mir” Medjugorje. He gave unceasingly conferences for pilgrims, animated adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, veneration of the Cross, the rosary up the Apparition Hill, the Way of the Cross on the Mount Krizevac, where he finished his earthly life. He animated annual meetings for priests and youth, in the prayer house of the Franciscan province “Domus Pacis” he animated “Fasting and prayer retreats”. The destructions of the war inspired him to found and lead an institution for the education and care of the young, the “Mother’s Village”, where more than 60 persons have found their home (war orphans, children from separated families, unwed mothers, elderly abandoned persons and sick children). If there was a man who loved children, it was Fr. Slavko. Children loved him in return: they always gathered around him and he knew always how to gather them – just like Jesus! His psychotherapeutic formation and education allowed him to work with drug addicts in the Community of the Cenacolo, founded by Sister Elvira, mostly in their house in Medjugorje, “Campo della vita”. He oriented the help received from the whole world in two directions: “Foundation for children of deceased defenders” who died during the war, and “Foundation of friends of talents” to help students.
It is difficult to extract something from the life of this big and unusual man. If we would try to do it, it is undoubtedly the period of his life in Medjugorje. Father Slavko Barbaric has travelled throughout the whole world, spreading the message of peace and reconciliation of Our Lady. He was the soul and the heart of the peace movement born in Medjugorje 19 1/2 years ago. He had wonderful gifts: knowledge of languages, facility of communicating with people, education, simplicity, care for human beings in need, inexhaustible energy – one could not believe that one single man could have it, diligence, and above all piety, humility, charity. He prayed and he fasted a lot, he loved Our Lady with a childlike love. It was, in fact, the essence of his life: through prayer and fasting to take souls to God through Mary – the Queen of Peace.
It seemed sometimes above the reality to live near him – he was here, in the world, but at the same time so much out of the world. In his presence, the words of Jesus from his high priestly prayer became reality: “They do not belong to the world, as I myself do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, I sent them into the world. I sanctify myself for them, in order that they may be sanctified by the truth…” (Jn 17,16-19)
The funeral took place at the cemetery in Medjugorje “Kovacica”, on Sunday, November 26, 2000, after the mass in the church of St James at 2 p.m.
Text © Medjugorje Information Center ‘Mir’