In order to be able to understand the history of Catholics in Kraljevo, we need to tell one of the rare stories about the Catholic church in Kraljevo. The story begins with the opening of the aircraft factory on 12 September 1926, when it started and recruiting locally. At first, it was a very simple workforce. The French who founded the factory brought a certain number of workers with them, and that number kept growing until the end of 1928. The state resolved the lack of workforce in different ways. A number of experts, technicians and engineers was transferred from the Military-Technical Institute in Kragujevac and that was the core of the plant. Kraljevo did not have quality metal workers at the time, at least not in significant numbers, and those that were available were semi-literate. That is why workers were brought in from across the country, especially from the more technically developed parts – Croatian, Slovenia, Vojvodina and Dalmatia. So after a few months with each of the French workers, technicians and engineers, there was his assistant from Yugoslavia, who worked and learned, and as soon as our man learned the job could to work independently, the Frenchman would pack and went home. The French were quickly adapted to life in a small underdeveloped Kraljevo. In addition to the school they founded, they strived to build a church for their religious needs, which will be regularly visited and gifted abundantly. The French and the English, had their priest with them in and they served the Holy Mass in the open air. When in 1923 everything was prepared for the construction of the airplane factory, began the construction of residential buildings in present-Hajduk Veljkova, which is still called “French colony” by the people of Kraljevo. After building the factory it was settled by experts from France with their families. They were Catholics, and therefore, it was important for them to provide a place where Holy Mass will be served for them, because there was not a Catholic Church in Kraljevo. This need was felt even more in the barracks, where among the soldiers and officers, and members of their families, there was quite a number of people from Croatia and Slovenia, mostly Catholics.
The priest from Kragujevac, or if he was not able, someone from Belgrade, came from time to time, and the Mass was served in the barracks. So, on 29 June 1929, the Archbishop of Belgrade Rafael Rodić came to Kraljevo. He was greeted by the representatives of the civil authorities and numerous citizens at the railway station.The question of building a Catholic church was laid before the town government very soon. Thus, in the great room of the town hall on 24 June 1931 conference of the most respected citizens, representatives of humanitarian and cultural associations, with the aim of establishing a committee to raise the Catholic Church in Kraljevo. The committee consisted of 30 prominent citizens. A fundraiser was held and on that occasion 30,000 dinars was collected. The Archdiocese of Belgrade was notified on this, and it engaged the Belgrade architect Katušić on the project of the church and vicarage construction. Financial aid arrived from all sides and after a few months, the construction works started. The municipality has designated a location on the corner of Hajduk Veljkova and Obilićeva streets. Workers and believers participated in the construction works, mostly from the Kraljevo, but craftsmen from Dalmatia (where the ones who built Studenica in the Middle Ages) also came to aid. Everything was finished on 19 November 1933, when consecration of the Catholic church was done. Many believers gathered there on that day, because it waas the only Catholic church in the inner Serbia after Kraljevo. The church was consecrated by Archbishop Rafael Rodić, assisted by the Deputy Bosnian Provincial Fr. Marijan Jakovljević, guardian of the Franciscan monastery in Belgrade Fr. Joseph Markušić, advisor of the Archbishop of Belgrade Prof. Vlašić, the Secretary of the Archdiocese Lujo Česlara and pastor from Kragujevac Ivana Vinodolac.Fra Kruno Misilo was appointed the temporary pastor and he took the service immediately. The ceremony ended with a banquet in Belgrade hotel, which was attended by many officials of civilian and military authorities. On 19 November 1933 bells donated by King Alexander arrived, which, starting from then until today will be calling the believers of Kraljevo, Čačak, Vrnjačka Banja, Trstenik and Kruševac to Mass.
There are several chapels on the territory of the parish:
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Užice
The chapel was built in 1934 during the service of fra Serafin Sarić. Tenants, Lekaj family lived in the parish home until a few years ago. Pastor Stephen Vinojčić visited them regularly every first Saturday of the month, until the death of Mr. Zef Lekaj in 1998. Pastor renewed the chapel and made some changes, reducing the area of the church to separate space for an office and a room for the priest.
Chapel of Our Lady Help of Christians in Vrnjačka Banja
Sisters of the Holy Cross took over the service at the hospital in 1957, so a chapel was opened there. But the sisters prayed to God to find a house nearby, they did not want to live in the hospital because any emergency would interrupt them in prayer and meditation. When Mr. Stojadinović, “Doctor of silicosis,” went to Germany and sold his residence across from the hospital, none of the citizens dared to buy it, fearing tuberculosis treated by the doctor at the residence. So the sisters bought the lower floor of the house, and later accepted and Mrs. Sofija Stojadinović for the lifelong care. But the last unfortunate war the reason why the nurses left in November 1991. The chapel in the house of sisters was opened in 1960 and renovated in 1986. After the sisters left, pastor Vinojčić lived in that house for one year, after which it broken in and occupied by the refugees from the surroundings of Dubrovnik, who were born in Jagodina. Pastor renewed the interior of the monastery, waiting for better days when people from Vojvodina would once again start coming to Vrnjačka Banja. Before the war, there were also 11 Janjevci season workers with their families.
Chapel of the Holy Trinity in Kruševac
The church owned land in Kruševac that was taken away in 1962. After many difficulties and a series of misunderstandings, the parish priest Stjepan Barišić with the help of Simon Gaši’s family found a house in 42 Kosovska Street which was acquired in 1986, and a chapel for the needs of the local believers was opened there. Pastor Vinojčić had long pondered whether to restore the chapel, because the old altar from Vrnjačka Banja was brought there, but Janjevci believers began to move out to Zagreb. In 1987, the parish priest started the reconstruction of the chapel. Architect Kvaternik made the draft, and work was performed by Stevo Gabrić from Subotica. During this time of war, 110 Janjevci moved from Kruševac.
Church of St. Michael the Archangel
48 Hajduk Veljkova Street,
Rev. Stjepan Vinojčić, pastor
Tel.: 036 / 322-788
Sundays and holidays: 12pm
Holy Trinity – Chapel
42 Kosovska Street, Kruševac 37000
Sundays and holidays: 5pm
Chapel of Our Lady Help of Christians
Vrnjačka Banja, 36210