PARISH OF THE SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE IN BELGRADE (THE PARISH AT THE CONFLUENCE OF TWO RIVERS)
The history of our parish is also the history of Jesuits in Belgrade, and it goes back a few centuries. In the period of Turkish rule and fighting against them, Jesuits tried to settle in Belgrade on several occasions. Pater Bartol Kašić founded the first humanitarian school in Balkans here, along with his father. Subsequent attempts to settle here end on the battlefield near the town, where some fathers died giving last consolation to heavily wounded casualties of Christian army. The liberation of Belgrade under the leadership of Eugene of Savoy brings new hope. And just when it seemed that the pastoral care and education can spread their wings, the town was given back to Turks. Austrians were tearing down everything they had built in the meantime, and Jesuits left the church and everything they had built. They only took a picture of the Blessed Virgin with them. They stored it in the Jesuit church in Petrovaradin.
After the abolition of the order (1773-1814) Jesuits come back to Belgrade in 1930. Belgrade had already become the capital of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at that time. On the New Year of 1931, they started pastoral work in the newly established parish of St. Peter the Apostle. They bought a house which was built in 1845 by Jovan Stejić, the royal family doctor. Today the house is under the protection of the Belgrade City Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments. They built a church in the house yard based on the design of a famous builder from Zagreb, Jurij Denzler, in 1933.
In 1934 they brought the Baroque painting of the Blessed Virgin with a child back from Petrovaradin. This was the only visible memory inherited from the Jesuits of the old Congregation in Belgrade. This painting, which was named The Blessed Virgin of Belgrade while it was in Petrovaradin, is still an object of special worship today.
The history of the parish is rich in events – the beautiful ones, as well as the unfortunate ones. Some statistics from the registry books will probably best testify about this. When the parish was established in 1931, there were over 130 baptisms. This number grew until it reached its peak in 1939 and 1940 when it rose to over 200. When the war broke out, this number started to decline, up until 1981 when there were only seven baptisms. Since then, the number of baptisms has not gone under ten. In 1992 it rose to over 50, half of those were adult baptisms. The number has been slightly decreasing up to now, so that in this and last year we have had six baptisms a year. During the whole history of the parish, the number of funerals was about 50 a year, but it started declining as well, so that in the past two years it has not gone over 30. Therefore, the rate of natural increase of the believers is nonexistent: some of them have emigrated, a lot of them have moved to other, newer parts of the city, thus the number of church goers has considerably declined in the last 15 years.
Let us mention some of the many things which make our parish special. Our congregation is multilingual; besides having masses in Croatian/Serbian, we have masses in English and Hungarian as well. We used to have them in Spanish, French and Slovakian. Numerous classical music concerts used to take place here, but now they have completely died out. Public discussions are organized only occasionally.
But since our church is in the hub of urban and suburban traffic, there is no lack of work these days. The most striking is pastoral work with the young, plus many big and small daily activities which we rejoice and which bind us. In doing so, our greatest desire is to lovingly serve the people to whom God sends us. And the future? Precisely such, and only such works – the works of love – have a future!
Church of St. Peter
23 Makedonska Street, Belgrade, 11000
Vinko Maslać, SI, pastor
Pero Markovic, SI, parish vicar P. Jacob Jurendić, SI, assistant parish
tel / fax: 011 / 30-30-815
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Service of God
Weekdays: 7am and 6pm
Sundays and holidays: 7 am, 9 am (in English), 10am and 6pm