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MSNG. STANISLAV HOČEVAR, THE ARCHBISHOP AND METROPOLITAN OF BELGRADE

Mons. Stanislav Hočevar was born on 12 November 1945 in the village of Jelendol, parish and municipality of Škocjan near Novo Mesto, the Diocese of Novo Mesto, Slovenia. After completing primary school in Škocjan, in 1960 he joined the Salesians of Don Bosco. He attended high school in Križevci and Rijeka, and then entered the novitiate of the Salesians. He served in the Army from 1966 to 1967 in Skopje. Then he was an educator in the novitiate in Želimlje near Ljubljana. He studied theology at the Theological Faculty in Ljubljana. He was ordained a priest on 29 June 1973.

 

He obtained his Master’s degree from the Theological Faculty in Ljubljana in 1979 with a thesis in theology: Personal sin in today’s hamartiology. Since the year 1973 was the trainer in a small seminary in Želimlje, and a trustee of this Salesian institution since 1979.

Two years (1982-1984) he was deputy Salesian Provincial in Slovenia. Then four years he was the manager of the dormitory for high school students – Modestov home in Klagenfurt, Austria. In 1988 he was elected Provincial of the Salesians in Slovenia for the first time, and from 1994 to 2000 he was entrusted with his second term in the same department. He took part in four Salesian General Chapters in Rome. He was the President of the Conference of Major Superiors of Slovenia in two terms, and then he was the Secretary General of the same conference for two years.

Even with these responsibilities and duties, he found the time to write. In 1978 his booklet Peter the Polish in 1983 was published. Open Your Heart, was published in 1983 and in 1988 for May devotion The Great Sign, and in 1998 he was editor of the book The years the great maturation about all violent death victims of the Second World War in the local parish near Škocjan near Novo Mesto.

In the year 1999 during the bombing of Yugoslavia he started the initiative “Peace to you, Balkan” and in the same year he started the successful foundation to help families with multiple children under the name of Anna’s Fund. On the feast of the Annunciation on  25 March 2000 Pope John Paul II appointed him the Coadjutor of the Archbishop of Belgrade. He received Episcopal ordination on 24 May 2000  in the church of Our Lady Help of Christians in Rakovnik in Ljubljana. He came to Belgrade on Pentecost 2000.

At the plenary session of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia in the autumn of 2000 he takes charge of the catechesis and youth, of the religious life, and became the president of the Bishops’ Commission for Caritas.

On 31March 2001 Holy Father John Paul II accepted the request for the dismissal of the former Archbishop of Belgrade Dr. Franc Perko, and with this Msgr. Stanislav Hočevar takes the service of the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Belgrade.

On 16 May 2001 he was elected President of the Bishops ‘Conference of Yugoslavia, later renamed the International Bishops’ Conference of St. Cyril and Methodius, where he also performed other functions, and on 7 July 2006 the XVI Plenum in Petrovaradin entrusted him with another five-year term.

In 2002 he became a member of the Pontifical Council for the Advancement unity of Christians. At the bishop’s coat of arms of Msgr. Stanislav Hočevar a star and a harp are presented. The star indicates the transcendent dimension of human life, and therefore marks the Church and the Virgin; the harp is an instrument that speaks of harmonious unity, a symbolic number of seven sacraments of the Church. These symbols indicate the light and the hope which Christianity brings. The colors on the background of the coat of arms are typical Slovenian colors.

The motto of his Episcopal ministry is: Servite Domino in laetitia (meaning: Serve the Lord with joy).

Mons. Dr. Franc Perko (Archbishop 1986-2001)

He was born in 1929 in Krka (Slovenia). He graduated from the Theological Faculty in Ljubljana, where he was ordained a priest (1953). He received his PhD in 1963 at the Catholic Theological Faculty in Ljubljana with a thesis Philosophy and theology of St. Cyril and Methodius. Between 1965 and 1968 he was at master’s studies at Eastern Institute in Rome, where he Mastered in history and theology of the Eastern Churches. From 1976 to 1981 he was the dean of the Theological Faculty in Ljubljana, and from 1985 to 1990, member of the International Theological Commission in Rome.

He was appointed the Archbishop and the first Metropolitan of Belgrade on 16 December 1986. He was consecrated by Pope John Paul II himself on 6 January 1987 in Rome.He took over the the Belgrade Archdiocese on 15February 1987. Since 1991 he was a member of the international Catholic-Orthodox theological commission. After the establishment of the Episcopal Conference of the FRY in 1997 he was elected its first president.

Archbishop Perko was one of the pioneers in establishing fraternal relations between the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade and the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana. This was crowned by the ecumenical encounters of three theological faculties in the former Yugoslavia (Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana). These ecumenical meetings began in 1974, and were held every two years alternately, in the organization of all theological faculties. He was an active participant in these symposiums to the last meeting in 1990.

The last decade of the XX century and the fallout of Yugoslavia was a very delicate time for the Archbishop. Despite the troubles he had been exposed to, he remained ready for dialogue with opponents. In 1997 he received a special important role in the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia (the latter Serbia and Montenegro). The following year he participated in the Synod of Bishops in Rome. In 1999 he experienced the bombing of Belgrade and Serbia and Montenegro (as well as declaration of the Holy See against this act of NATO, committed under the name of ”Angel of Mercy ”). Due to poor health he retired. Then he lived in his native Slovenia, until his death on 20 February 2008.

Msgr. Alojzije Turk (Archbishop 1980-1986)

He was born in 1909 in Bršlin near Novo Mesto in Slovenia. He studied at the Faculty of Theolody in Ljubljana. He was ordained a priest in 1934. Already during his studies he became interested in the problems of the unity of Christians; participated in international Cyril and Methodius conferences as well as several Pan Slavic Congress.

Since he was ordained a priest, Bishop  of Skopje Gnidovec called him into his diocese, where since 1934 he was in different places of dioceses. In January 1935, he was entrusted with the editorial board of the newspaper Blagovest.

During the Second World War he was a military priest. In 1944 he was appointed Vicar General with the special powers in Skopje, for the part of the diocese under Bulgarian occupation. In 1955 he had to return to Slovenia. Since 1959 he was in Belgrade, where he helped the parish priest of Christ the King. In 1964 he became the main editor of Blagovesti. He also had other important duties. He maintained friendly contacts with the Serbian Orthodox Church and its institutions. He participated in all ecumenical symposia.

He was appointed the Archbishop of Belgrade on 7 March 1980 and received Episcopal consecration on 20 April. In 1986 the Pope named his successor. He retired in Slovenia and he spent the rest of his life in Novo Mesto, where he died in 1995.

Msgr. Dr. Gabrijel Bukatko (Archbishop 1964-1980)

He was born in 1913 in Donji Andrijevci near Slavonski Brod (Croatia). He comes from Križevačka eparchy, which at that time gathered all Greek Catholics in Yugoslavia. He graduated from high school at the Franciscans in Visoko, and  theological studies in Rome, where he also earned a PhD.

He was the secretary of Bishop In Križevci; and eventually became a canon. In 1950 he was appointed apostolic administrator of Križevačka Greek Catholic diocese. He received the Episcopal consecration in 1952. He was the secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia for ten years. He was appointed the archbishop coadjutor with the right of succession  in early 1961.

After the death of Joseph Ujčič (1964) he becomes the Archbishop of Belgrade. He found a difficult economic situation and the lack of priests in the Archdiocese, and he wanted to overcome this, as his primary task. He ensured that the provisions of the Second Vatican Council  take root in the territory of his diocese with great devotion.

He managed to establish exemplary relations with the Orthodox Church in Serbia. At that time, in 1966, diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were restored, which somewhat facilitated his mission.

In 1980 he resigned for health reasons and according to canon law. Then he retired in Ruski Krstur, where he died on 19 October 1981. He was buried in the parish church of St. Nicholas (which from 2003 became cathedral church Exarch for the believers of the Eastern rite in Serbia and Montenegro). It is believed that his greatest merit was gathering seminarians from other dioceses, trying to ensure the Achdiocese clergy, and that during the Second Vatican Council, in which he participated, ”radiance of his personality’ was noted’.

Msgr. Dr. Josip Ujčić (Archbishop 1936-1964)

He was born in 1880 in Stari Pazin in Istria, in today’s Croatia. After studies he was ordained a priest in Trieste (1902). He earned his PhD in Vienna in 1908. He was the secretary of the bishop of Trieste and at the same time professor of moral theology in Gorica. Between 1912 and 1918 he was the court chaplain to the imperial court of Vienna and Director of the Institute ‘Augustineum’. After World War II he became professor of moral theology at the newly established Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana.

He was appointed the Archbishop of Belgrade and Smederevo and Apostolic administrator of Banat on 28 November 1936. Although prepared for many inherited problems in the Archdiocese, including those of a financial nature, with his ability and all-round efforts  he managed to preserve what could be saved, directing the work of the Archdiocese to its development, as well as the spiritual life of the flock. He bore witness to so called concord crisis (1937) because of the dissatisfaction of certain political and religious circles who disagreed with the signing of the Concordat between the Vatican and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The beginning of the Second World War, the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the German occupation have brought him personally and the whole Archdiocese huge trouble. He tried to provide assistance and hope to the victims. However, due to the new historical trouble many Catholics left Belgrade and Serbia. On the other hand, many Slovenians were evicted from their homes and settled in Belgrade and in the inner Serbia, including priests, monks and nuns. In addition to the hospitality of the Serbs, he himself did a lot to ensure that refugees are accommodated. After World War II, in the early years of communist Yugoslavia, he was faced with many troubles of his flock. At the same time pastoral centers in the interior of Serbia were getting deserted, while part of the church property was nationalized. It took a lot of effort and wisdom to preserve the Archdiocese. A serious moment during his term was the severance of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Yugoslavia in 1952.

Aware of all restrictions he still managed to communicate with different strata of people, even with the government. He managed to lead the Church without major problems in the circumstances. For the last fourteen years, he was the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia. He is particularly meritorious for the revival of the Blagovest newapaper (1946). He participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). When he was 80 he received a high state decoration, and the Holy See gave him due recognition for his work. Exhausted by illness he died on 24 March 1964. He was buried in Belgrade in the Church of Christ the King.

Msgr. Fra Ivan Rafael Rodić (Archbishop 1924-1936)

He was born in 1870 in Nurkovac near Požega in Croatia. He joined the Franciscan Province of St.. Ivan Capistran in 1886. He was ordained a priest in 1893 in Budapest, where he passed the exam for a professor of theology in the same year. From then until 1898 he taught in Baja. From 1900 to 1903 he was the first curator of the newly founded Franciscan Province of St.. Cyril and Methodius. He was the guardian of Zagreb (1900-1903; 1909-1912), Varaždin (1903-1909) and Trieste, near Rijeka (1918-1923).

For the apostolic administrator of Banat based in Veliki Bečkerek (Zrenjanin) he was appointed in 1923. At the same place he was appointed the first Archbishop of Belgrade and Smederevo on 29 October 1924. Huge tasks were before him because it was necessary to organize the work of the Archdiocese at all levels, from the ground up. Thanks to his persistence, he soon established parishes in Belgrade and in the inner Serbia. He blessed many secular societies. He contributed to the establishment of charitable organizations. One of his great successes is Eucharistic Congress, which was held in Veliki Bečkerek (1934).

He had less luck with his financial enterprises, which according to current knowledge, are the result of erroneous advice. These events brought many disadvantages to the Archdiocese and to him personally. To facilitate the opportunities arising in the Church, he requested his resignation in 1936. After that, he lived in Kostajnica, and from 1938 until his death on 10 May 1954 in Požega.