We all deeply mourn the loss of Fr. Slavko Barbaric. He has been a great inspiration to millions of pilgrims. Rest in peace Father, you will surely be missed! You are in our prayers always.
Information sources, St. James Parish Medjugorje, Spirit Daily, journalist Jakob Marschner, and Medjugorje USA.
Every Friday Father Slavko faithfully lead pilgrims to the top of Cross Mountain, to celebrate The Way of the Cross. On Friday, November 24, 2000, it seemed to be no different, as some 70 pilgrims joined in for this weekly event. However this day would be different, effecting the emotions of millions of pilgrims around the world and leaving Medjugorje in a state of shock.
At first, reports were sketchy but as days passed details seem to fill in. It seems Father Slavko was experiencing some distress as he and the pilgrims ascended Cross Mountain. At the top of the mountain Father went to sit on a rock to rest. Some reports say that Father said he had some chest pain. According to Margaret C. Sims (retired nun) founder of the Marian Messengers in Framingham, Massachusetts, Father was not himself and seemed distant.
According to journalist Jakob Marschner in Bosnia-Hercegovina, as posted on author Michael H. Brown's website, spiritdaily.com, Father Slavko Barbaric indicates that he sensed his life was coming to an end. “As he started to descend, he stopped near the Resurrection station, just below the big cross. After having said the final prayer: ‘May Our Lady pray for us at the time of our death’, he blessed all those who had climbed up with him. Then they saw him calmly sit down and smoothly slide to the ground. He gave his soul back to God after three last breathes, very peacefully, surrounded with prayer and love.”
Jakob reports that, Father Slavko stopped on his way down the mountain, something that he would not normally do. Secondly he prays for the Virgin Mary’s assistance at death. Thirdly and most significantly he chooses to bless the people in an unusual place, while descending the mountain instead of on top of it (also Father Slavko seldom blessed outside the church). Fourth and finally he sits down instead of keeping on going.
Release from the Parish of St. James, in Medjugorje.
Father Slavko Barbaric died on November 24, 2000 at 3.30 p.m. After the Way of the Cross, that he animated usually every Friday on the Hill of Krizevac for parishioners and pilgrims, he felt some pain. He sat down on a rock, then lay down on the ground, lost consciousness and gave his soul over to the Lord.
Father Slavko Barbaric was born on March 11, 1946, as the son of Marko and Luca born Stojic at Dragicina (parish of Cerin). He attended elementary school in Cerin and then went on to high school in Dubrovnik. He entered into the Franciscan order at Humac on July 14, 1965. He made his final vows September 17, 1971. He was ordained priest the December 19, 1971. He studied at Sarajevo, Graz and Freiburg. He finished his studies at Graz (Austria) with a master's degree. After 5 years of pastoral service in the province of Herzegovina, in the parish of Capljina, he continued his studies at Freiburg, where he obtained his doctorate in religious pedagogy and the title of psychotherapist.
As Franciscan priest, he was in Capljina from 1973 to 1978. From the spring of 1982 to September 1984, he was chaplain for students at Mostar, and he held retreats in the house of religious sisters at Bijelo Polje near Mostar. His fruitful work with the students and his retreats very well accepted by the students, however, the Communist government in power at that time persecuted him. In those difficult moments, his eminence, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, protected father Slavko's mission.
Thanks to his knowledge of the main European language and despite his numerous obligations in different parishes, father Slavko put himself ceaselessly at the service of Medjugorje pilgrims from the time he finished his studies and came back to the country in 1982. He was officially sent to Medjugorje in 1983. According to the order of Mgr. Zanic, bishop of Mostar, he was transferred to the parish of Blagaj, and in 1988 to Humac, where he was parish vicar and assistant of the master of novices.
At the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when all elderly friars were exiled to Tucepi, with the oral accord of + father Drago Tolj, former provincial, father Slavko remained at Medjugorje.
From the very beginning of his mission in Medjugorje, father Slavko has been writing spiritual books: «Pray With the Heart», «Give Me Your Wounded Heart», «Celebrate Mass With the Heart», «In the School of Love», «Adore my Son With the Heart», «With Jesus and Mary Climbing the Golgotha to Meet the Risen Lord», «Pray Together with a Joyful Heart», Interviews, and «Fast With the Heart», which is now in print. Fr. Slavko Barbaric's books have been translated in twenty languages and more than 20 million copieshave been printed in the whole world. He published also numerous articles in various publications. He was editor of the St Francis' Bulletin in Capljina, collaborated in Krsni Zavicaj, Glas Mira and the Radio "Mir" Medjugorje. He gave unceasingly conferences for pilgrims, animated adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, veneration of the Cross, the rosary up the Apparition Hill, the Way of the Cross on the Mount Krizevac, where he finished his earthly life. He animated annual meetings for priests and youth, in the prayer house of the Franciscan province "Domus Pacis" he animated "Fasting and prayer retreats". The destructions of the war inspired him to found and lead an institution for the education and care of the young, the "Mother's Village", where more than 60 persons have found their home (war orphans, children from separated families, unwed mothers, elderly abandoned persons and sick children). If there was a man who loved children, it was Fr. Slavko. Children loved him in return: they always gathered around him and he knew always how to gather them - just like Jesus! His psychotherapeutic formation and education allowed him to work with drug addicts in the Community of the Cenacolo, founded by Sister Elvira, mostly in their house in Medjugorje, "Campo della vita". He oriented the help received from the whole world in two directions: "Foundation for children of deceased defenders" who died during the war, and "Foundation of friends of talents" to help students.
It is difficult to extract something from the life of this big and unusual man. If we would try to do it, it is undoubtedly the period of his life in Medjugorje. Father Slavko Barbaric has traveled throughout the whole world, spreading the message of peace and reconciliation of Our Lady. He was the soul and the heart of the peace movement born in Medjugorje 19 1/2 years ago. He had wonderful gifts: knowledge of languages, facility of communicating with people, education, simplicity, care for human beings in need, inexhaustible energy - one could not believe that one single man could have it, diligence, and above all piety, humility, charity. He prayed and he fasted a lot, he loved Our Lady with a childlike love. It was, in fact, the essence of his life: through prayer and fasting to take souls to God through Mary - the Queen of Peace.
It seemed sometimes above the reality to live near him - he was here, in the world, but at the same time so much out of the world. In his presence, the words of Jesus from his high priestly prayer became reality: "They do not belong to the world, as I myself do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, I sent them into the world. I sanctify myself for them, in order that they may be sanctified by the truth..." (Jn 17,16-19)
The funeral took place at the cemetery in Medjugorje "Kovacica", on Sunday, November 26, 2000, after the mass in the church of St James at 2 p.m. in attendance, 110 priests and thousands of pilgrims.