Msgr. Alojzije Turk (the Archbishop from 1980 to 1986)
He was born in Bršlin, near Novo Mesto in Slovenia, in 1909. He studied at the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana. He was ordained as a priest in 1934. During his studies, he became interested in problems regarding Christian unity. He participated in International Congresses dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodius as well as in several Slavic congresses.
After his ordination as a priest, he was invited to the diocese of Skopje by bishop Gnidovec, where he dwelled in different places within the diocese since 1934. He was entrusted with editing a magazine “Blagovest” in January, 1935.
During Second World War, he was a military priest. He was appointed Vicar General with special authorizations for a part of the diocese under Bulgarian occupation in Skopje, in 1944. He had to return to Slovenia in 1955. He was in Belgrade since 1959, where he helped parish priest in parish Christ the King. He became editor-in-chief of magazine “Blagovest” in 1964. He also had other important responsibilities. He maintained friendly relations with Serbian Orthodox Church and its institutions. He took part in all ecumenical symposiums.
He was appointed as the Archbishop of Belgrade on March 7th, 1980 and he received episcopal consecration on April 20th. The Pope appointed his successor in 1986. He retired to Slovenia and he spent the rest of his life in Novo Mesto, where he died in 1995.
Msgr. Dr. Gabrijel Bukatko (the Archbishop from 1964 to 1980)
He was born in Donji Andrijevci, near Slavonski Brod in Croatia, in 1913. He came from the eparchy of Križevci, which gathered all Greek Catholics in Yugoslavia at that time. He finished grammar school at the Franciscans in Visoko, and Faculty of Theology in Rome, where he earned his PhD.
He was also a Bishop’s secretary in Križevci and with the course of time he became a canon. He was appointed as apostolic administrator of the Greek-catholic eparchy of Križevci in 1950. He received episcopal consecration in 1952. He was a secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia for 10 years. He was appointed as the Archbishop Coadjutor with rights of succession in 1961.
He became the Archbishop of Belgrade after Josip Ujčić’s death in 1964. He faced a difficult economic situation as well as a lack of priests in the Archdiocese, which he wanted to overcome as his primary task. He worked devotedly to ensure that provisions of the Second Vatican Council come to life in his diocese too.
He managed to establish exemplary relations with the Orthodox Church in Serbia. During that time, in 1966, diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Yugoslavia were restored, which made his mission easier.
He handed in his resignation due to poor health and according to canon law in 1980. Then, he retired to Ruski Krstur, where he died on October 19th, 1981. He was buried in a parish church of Saint Nicholas, which has been a cathedral of exarchs for believers of Eastern-rite in Serbia and Montenegro since 2003. It is believed that his greatest contribution was gathering theologians from other dioceses, in order to provide clergy for the archdiocese. He participated in the Second Vatican Council, where it was noticed that “his personality beamed”.
Msgr. Dr. Josip Ujčić (the Archbishop from 1936 to 1964)
He was born in Stari Pazin in Istria, Croatia, in 1880. After his studies, he was ordained as a priest in Trieste, 1902. He earned his PhD in Vienna in 1908. He was a Bishop’s secretary in Trieste and a professor of moral theology in Gorica at the same time. He was a chaplain on the czar’s court between 1912 and 1918 and a director of The Higher Scientific Institute for Diocesan Priests at St. Augustine’s (’’Augustineum’) in Vienna. After the First World War, he became a professor of moral theology at a newly founded Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana.
He was appointed as the Archbishop of Belgrade-Smederevo and an apostolic administrator of Banat on November 28th, 1936. Although he was prepared for numerous inherited problems in the Archdiocese, including financial ones, he managed to save what could be saved, thanks to his capability and comprehensive contribution and by directing work of the Archdiocese to its development, as well as spiritual life of its believers. He witnessed to a so called Concordat Crisis, 1937, due to dissatisfaction of some politicians and clergy that didn’t agree with signing the Concordat between Vatican and Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The outbreak of the Second World War, the break-up of Yugoslavia and German occupation brought enormous troubles both to the Archdiocese and him personally. He put a lot of effort in providing help and offering hope to the unfortunate. However, due to new historical mishaps, a lot of Catholics left Belgrade and Serbia. On the other hand, a lot of Slovenians, who were banished from their homes, came to Belgrade and central part of Serbia, including priests, monks and nuns. He went out of his way to look after the refugees, besides Serbian hospitality. After the war, during first years of communist Yugoslavia, he faced with numerous troubles of his parishioners. At the same time, pastoral centers were desolated in the central part of Serbia, while a part of church property was nationalized. It took him a lot of effort and wisdom to preserve the Archdiocese. The end of diplomatic relations between Yugoslavia and the Holy See in 1952 was a serious moment in his term.
He succeeded in communicating with different people, including the authorities, being aware of all limitations. He managed to lead the Church with no major issues given the circumstances. He was the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia for 14 years. His great contribution was reissuing the magazine “Blagovesti”, 1946. He took part in the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965. He received the highest state decoration when he was 80 and the Holy See acknowledged his work. He died on March 24th, 1964, exhausted by an illness. He was buried in the church Christ the King in Belgrade.
Msgr. Fr. Ivan Rafael Rodić (the Archbishop from 1924 to 1936)
He was born in Nurkovac, near Požega, Croatia, in 1870. He entered Franciscan Province of Saint John Capistrano in 1886. He was ordained as a priest in Budapest, 1893, where he passed the test for the professor of theology in the same year. He taught in Baja from 1893 to 1898. He was the first curator of a newly founded Franciscan Province of Saints Cyril and Methodius from 1900 to 1903. He was an abbot in Zagreb (1900-1903; 1909-1912), Varaždin (1903-1909) and in Trieste, next to Rijeka (1918-1923).
He was appointed as apostolic administrator of Banat with head office in Veliki Bečkerek (Zrenjanin) in 1923. He was appointed as the first Archbishop of Belgrade-Smederevo on October 29th, 1924. He had huge tasks ahead, since the work of restored Archdiocese should be organized at all levels. Thanks to his persistence, he established parishes in Belgrade and in central part of Serbia. He blessed numerous lay communities. He contributed to the foundation of charities. One of his great successes was Eucharistic Congress, held in Veliki Bečkerek (1934).
He wasn’t so successful in his financial endeavors, which were a consequence of wrong advising according to latest findings. Those events brought a lot of inconveniences to the Archdiocese and him personally. He resigned in 1936 in order to help the Church. He lived in Kostajnica after that and then he lived in Požega from 1938 to his death on May 10th, 1954.