Church of St. Joseph the Worker (THE YOUNGEST PARISH IN BELGRADE)
It was conceived in 1942 when Dr. Josip Ujčić was the Archbishop of Belgrade. There had already been land and a part of construction material prepared in Old Karaburma. The new parish was supposed to have been taken over by the Congregation of the Mission but they chose Banovo Brdo. Then the World War II prevented the building of the church and establishment of the parish. After the war it was not possible to realize the idea. In addition, the collected material was quickly stolen, the land was nationalized and a supermarket was built on it.
At that time, Karaburma was a working class suburb. It was very devoted to the working class. This will be seen later, when the question of church and parish comes up. The helm of the Belgrade Archdiocese was taken over by Dr. Gabrijel Bukatko. He remained known for his beautiful white beard and cheerful voice, and most of all, for his generous heart. He wanted to fulfill the wish of his predecessor at all cost. As he knew the Salesians very well, he decided to ask them to establish the new parish on this territory. Because the majority of the population belonged to the working class, it was decided that the new patron of the parish would be St. Joseph the Worker, which is celebrated on 1 May.
At that time, I was a chaplain at the parish of Christ the King. Father Archbishop asked me to look for a location in Karaburma where we can establish the sixth parish of Belgrade. Through the newspapers, I found out that there was a house for sail in Old Karaburma in 39 Sime Šolaje Street. After seeing the house we decided to buy it and make it the first public chapel. I served the first Holy Mass there on 22 June 1965. Slovenian Sisters of Charity took over the care of the new house, and the spiritual leadership was taken over by myself and one more chaplain from the parish of Christ the King. A dozen believers attended the opening of the new chapel.
Several years after, a new and better opportunity arose, so on 21 March 1967 we moved to the current parish home in 23 Pribojska Street, and shortly thereafter, on 7 September 1967, we opened a new chapel. But when I was riding my motorcycle to the opening of the chapel, near the New Graveyard I was hit by a car and I broke my right arm. Since I was not able to ride any longer, I left my motorcycle on the street and carried on on foot.
The chapel was blessed with enormous joy by Archbishop Dr. Gabrijel Bukatko, who was delighted to realize his dream of many years. He already saw the new parish in front of him, which will be proclaimed on 1 January 1972. Mr. Herman Habič, Salezian, who had been the pastor of the Christ the King parish at the time, was appointed the first pastor. He soon moved to Karaburma and endeavored to build a new church. Although he was the pastor in Karaburma up to 1986 he did not manage to realize that plan. With great effort he did manage to build the hall of the future church. Mr. ANtun Horvat, who was his successor from 1986 until 1989, did not succeed in building the church either. The local community office was firmly against it. Their attitude was: let schools and hospitals be built, not churches, especially not Catholic ones.
18 years later, 1 August 1989 I came back from Montenegro to Karaburma once again.
I found a beautiful hall there, which was being used as the parish church. We decided to build a church over the hall which served as a chapel. Aware that we would not get the building permit, we started a “moonlighting” construction. After a couple of months, the church got its roof. It looked like a big hall without windows. Then, the building inspectors came and told us to tear down the church in couple of days. After many difficulties and worries, the church of St. Joseph was finally built on 1 May 1991. It was solemnly blessed by the Archbishop Franc Perko. The church had no bell tower. Its turn would come a few years later.
The church of St. Joseph the Worker is not big, but it is lovely to look at. People say they can piously pray there. It has been called “the beauty” of Belgrade. If you don’t believe me, come and see for yourselves.
Devotions in honour of St. Joseph are held in the church every Wednesday. Especially on 1 May, when the church celebrates its day. Besides that, you can take a rest there, with the view of the Danube river.
Church of Sv. Joseph the Worker
23 Pribojska Street, Belgrade, 11000
Rev. Pastor. Grzegorz J. Chudek
Phone. 011 / 27-63-059; 069 30 654 65