September 16 is a special day for Croatia, which has been prepared for a long time intellectually, materially and spiritually. Archbishop Msgr. Đuro Hranić, who consecrated the shrine in Ivanovci five years ago on September 15, 2018, and 17 concelebrating priests welcomed more than 1000 people to the festive Mass for the 5th anniversary of the shrine. In his homily, the Archbishop referred to the feast day of the “Seven Sorrows of Mary”, how Mary became our Mother under the cross of her Son and how we live this relationship in the covenant of love.

Before the final blessing, the Archbishop blessed the new Way of the Cross. The participants in holy Mass, who had contributed both materially and spiritually, were very happy about the successful artistic design of the Stations (here as an example the 4th station: Jesus meets his most holy mother).

Praying the Stations in the afternoon in which many people, totally composed, walked the Way of the Cross together with Jesus in prayer and meditation was one of the most impressive experiences of the day. Just like the empty jars that stood in front of the shrine and were filled with spiritual contributions throughout the day: Deeds of love such as those of Simon of Cyrene or Veronica for those in need, love of enemies, personal suffering and the cross – all of these were spiritually offered up for the new Way of the Cross… This was shown by the participation of many in the spiritual preparation for the blessing of the Way of the Cross.

Jesus’ promise: “I love you beyond measure!”

The Swiss Father Christoph Horn has been traveling in Croatia for decades to accompany the Schoenstatt Movement. Now there exist a committed Schoenstatt Family and two shrines.

During adoration at the end of the day, Fr. Christoph lent his voice to Jesus, who in his message from the cross calls out to everyone: “I love you beyond measure!” It was a profound meditative prayer of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.

With this, the construction and expansion of the first and second Croatian Schoenstatt shrine is practically complete. Therefore Fr. Horn thanked everyone present for their faithful 15-year collaboration materially, spiritually and last but not least with many practical activities.

A special thank you went upwards – to the Heavenly Father, who has so wonderfully guided the Croatian Schoenstatt Family through all these years and in his loving providence has ensured that practically all the plans could be carried out and two shrines have been built that complement each other wonderfully: “In Mala Subotica the Queen of Hearts gives her heart and educates our hearts”, Fr Horn said. “In Ivanovci she leads us further – upwards to the Triune God and into the width to our brothers and sisters in our large Schoenstatt Family. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the Blessed Mother who has settled in these two places and has been working for so many years, distributing graces and gifts!”

Thanks to the architect

A very special thank you also goes to the now 90-year-old architect Ladislav Pađen, who has worked so professionally and faithfully for the second shrine through all the difficulties since the foundation stone was laid in 2017, often day and night. And that for God’s reward!!! It was his explicit wish that he would not be thanked in front of all the pilgrims. That is why Father Horn visited him on Sunday after the celebration in Ivanovci in his house, where he lives alone, and thanked him personally. The very cordial meeting lasted almost three hours.

Final negotiations: Visit to the mayor of Valpovo

Valpovo is the district town which also includes Ivanovci (7 km to the south). The town owns the property on which the shrine was built. Ten years ago, the right to use and build it was contractually acquired.

Now the mayor Marko Šutalo is ready for the Schoenstatt Family to apply for the right of ownership with the intention of eventually becoming the owner of the site.

At the end of the pleasant conversation, Father Horn presented a few gifts. The third and final one was a cross. The mayor had been present at the blessing of the Stations, but did the symbol of the cross mean anything to him privately? Father Horn’s doubts were quickly dispelled, because the mayor began to beam and said: “You know, my wife and I are building a weekend house and just yesterday (!) we said that there was still a cross missing…”. How God’s providence works!