Fr. Alojzije Imbro (Mirko) Novak
Fr. Alojzije Imbro (Mirko) Novak was born on 14 October 1910, in the parish of St. George in Lopatinac in Upper Međimurje. He was the ninth child to Andrija and Marija, nee Kovačić. Alter completing primary school in 1923, he entered the Capuchin seminary in Varaždin as a high school student from the Franciscan high school where he matriculated in 1927. He entered the novitiate in Varažidn on 9 August that same year where on 10 August 1928 he took his first Religious vows. After the novitiate he enrolled at the Faculty of Philosophy in Bregenz in the Tyrol Province (1928-1931), and continued his studies at the Central Theological Faculty in Split (1931-1934), where on 8 December 1931, he took his final vows. He was ordained a priest in Šibenik on 8 July 1934. That same year, he enrolled in post-graduate studies in Theology at the Gregoriana University in Rome and in 1936 completed his Master’s specialising in the Theology of the Church Fathers. Even though he was supposed to have obtained his doctorate in Rome, his superiors temporarily called him back to the Province and in 1937 appointed him as a professor at the Capuchin Theological-Philosophical Academy in Škofja Loka, where he also conducted the duties of a magistrate of the clergy until 1939. Circumstances amongst Croatian Capuchins who at the time were few in number required that Father Alojzije, as a capable, young priest, to be briefly transferred (1939-1940) to Split and in September 1940 to Varaždin where he remained until September 1945. During those five years the work of Father Alojzije Novak was significant to the life and survival of the Croatian and Slovenian Capuchins and his far reaching decisions laid down the lines for the future of the Capuchins in Slovenian and in particular, in Croatian regions.
Father Alojzije Novak was elected Provincial Definer in December 1940. World War II erupted. Hitler had occupied Slovenia. The monasteries in Slovenia were closed down and the Slovenian Capuchins were compelled to leave Slovenia. The Provincial at the time of the Illyrian Province, Fr. Mavricij Terša appointed Fr. Alojzije as Provincial Vicar in May of 1941, following the consent of the Supreme Superior of the Order. As the Guardian of Varaždin and Vicar of the Province, from 1941 – 1945 he independently managed Croatia’s monasteries and helped save the Slovenian Capuchins and find them somewhere to stay in Croatian monasteries. At that time, he was summonsed by Bl. Alojzije Stepinac and it was due to his huge efforts that the Croatian Capuchins once again returned to Zagreb from where they had been expelled by the enlightened absolutist rule of Joseph II back in 1788. Here in Zagreb, in the eastern suburbs, the Capuchins built a church dedicated to St. Mihchael and later a monastery that was to become the see of the Province and a centre for intensive pastoral work and activities.
After the war, from September 1945 to January 1947, Fr. Alojzije was the Guardian in Osijek. During his two mandates from 1946 to 1952, he was again appointed Definer of the Illyrian Province. In the meantime, for a brief period from March to October 1947 he conducted the ministry of hospital chaplain in Rijeka. When the Italian Capuchins left Rijeka, he was the Guardian in Rijeka from October 1947 to September 1951 and in the spring of 1948, he was also the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rijeka. In September 1951, he was appointed a magistrate for the clergy in the seminary in Zagreb. At the provincial capitule in 1952, he was elected as Provincial of the Illyrian Province of the Slovenian and Croatian Capuchins. From 1955 to 1958, he was again elected magistrate for the clergy in Zagreb and at the same time held the office of the economist for the Province during the provincial mandate of Fr. Tomislav Šagi-Bunić (1955- 1958). From 1958-1961, he was the Guardian in Zagreb. From 1961-1967, he was again elected as Provincial of the Illyrian Province for a further two mandates. After his ministry and provincial service from 1967-1970 he conducted the duties of guardian and parish priest in Zagreb. For decades he prepared and worked in the spirit of post-Council spiritual renewal following the Second Vatican Council. With his soul and apostolic and pastoral fervour, Fr. Alojzije dedicated himself to church and religious renewal. Together with his confreres and associates they initiated numerous pastoral activities motivating his brothers to intellectual and pastoral and apostolic fervour. In 1967, the Illyrian Province ceased to exist and it was divided into two monastic units, the Slovenian and Croatian. This division resulted as a consequence of post-Council and social changes with the aim of bettering development and monastic apostolic activities of both the Slovenian and Croatian Capuchins.
From 1970-1976, Fr. Alojzije Novak was an assistant professor for novices and following the provincial capitule in 1976, he was appointed a professor for novices and remained in that position until 1985 when he was transferred to Dubrovnik where as a spiritual advisor and confessor and at one stage as the guardian, he remained until his death. As can be seen from this wealthy and diverse life, Fr. Alojzije Novak managed to remain responsible during a period of delicate social, church and provincial historical circumstances. He was often known to say that he had been charged with truly responsible duties and tasks in the Province not because he was particularly capable but because circumstances dictated that he take on these tasks. He was exceptionally modest to judge his own ability. The truth is that his success in his apostolic and pastoral work and in conducting responsible Religious and pastoral duties and services was that he was surrounded and knew how to attract worthy and capable associates, which is something he often said himself. He was gifted with exceptional reason and sound judgement and so was able to balance the demands of his Religious duties while remaining dynamic in his pastoral activities, particularly with Catechism. He always gladly worked with children and they all loved him. He never considered any task to be less worthy than another whether he worked intellectually, in his pastoral care or toiled in physical labour.
He was always just as confident whether he took a book, the Bible or shovel into his hands to illustrate his fervour. He always saw the benefit of intellectual, spiritual and physical work. He was always pleased with some new venture, whether this be to improve his own intellect, working with spiritual formation of his brothers, building a new pastoral centre or parish pastoral care in the local church. He had a fine ear for reality in the existing historical circumstances. He was motivated and worked on any new initiative in the province. He did not spare himself and fervently motivated his confreres to advocate for the Church. He was deserved for spreading the cult in honour of St. Leopold Bogdan Mandić in the Croatian Church. He considered that God himself gave us Croats and in particular the Capuchins, St. Leopold so that we can recognise his worth and follow his ideal of a tireless and holy figure for the spiritual revival of the Church, the Province and the nation. Like St. Leopold, Fr. Alojzije was often seeked as a confessor and spiritual adviser amongst the clergy and in Religious circles and generally amongst the people where he lived and worked. He was decorated by his balance and depth of dedication to God in healthy mysticism. In addition to his responsible leadership in the Religious community and in his pastoral work, Fr. Alojzije virtually dedicated his entire life to education.
As an educator he was demanding and sound, spiritual and enterprising. He was decorated with a fine, fatherly tenderness. He inspired confidence amongst the young and he believed in the young. he was not cowardiced or shocked over conscious or unconscious trends experienced by the young. This rendered him refreshing and attractive, particularly to the young, and continued until his old age. Today’s two provinces, Slovenia’s and Croatia’s which in 1967 were combined in the one Illyrian Province, rightly consider him as their father because he was their spiritual guide. Apart from that, many Capuchins both Slovenian and Croatian who have long passed away and we who are still alive, proudly consider him as our spiritual father in the most noble way as a healthy, spiritual father in the spirit of the Church fathers (pater pneumatikos), full of understanding and tact, acute insight and reason, the gift of sound judgement, spiritual knowledge, wealth of life’s wisdom, “unsaid love of man and incomparable patience of service” (Tomislav Šagi-Bunić).
(Dr. prof. Zdenko Tomislav Tenšek)
Tomislav Janko Šagi-Bunić
Tomislav Janko Šagi-Bunić was born in Brodarovec near Varaždin on 2 February 1923 to Stjepan and Ana, nee Bunić. After completing primary school in Druškovec (1930-1934) he entered the Capuchin seminary in Varaždin where he attended the Franciscan Classical High School (1934-1943). In 1940, he entered the Capuchin novitiate in Škofja Loka in Slovenia. He took his first Religious vows in Varažin, on 12 September 1941, and his final vows again in Varaždin, on 12 September 1944. He enrolled in Theology at the Catholic Theological Faculty in Zagreb (1943-1945) where he graduated in 1949. He obtained his doctorate at the same faculty in 1951 with his thesis: The Christology of Constantinople (434-446). A Contribution to Interpreting Calcedonian Dogmatic Definitions (451) /Zagreb, 1951/ which laid the path to his research of the Christology of the Calcedonian Council. He was ordained a priest on 5 September 1948.
After serving the army (1951-1952) until his death, he lived and worked in Zagreb, from 1952-1962 in the monastery in Kapucinska 47 and from 1962-1991 in the St. Leopold Bogdan Mandić monastery in the Zagreb suburb of Gornja Dubrava in a street that carries the saints name and then from 1991-1999, again in Kapucinska 47. From 1955-1958 he was the Provincial of the Illyrian Capuchin Province for Croatia and Slovenia and from 1967-1970 and again from 1982-1985, he was the Definer of the Croatian Capuchin Province. He was a professor (1952/55 and 1958/59), and provincial studies prefect (1958/73), the initiator and editor of the Provincial newsletter the "Folium Provinciae Illyriae Ordinis fratrum minorum Capuccinorum" (1961). He wrote a brief History of the Croatian Capuchins (Zagreb, 1963), and translated the first Croatian edition of the life of blessed Leopold Bogdan Mandić (Zagreb, 1946), as well as a pamphlet about the apostolic teachings of St. Lawrence of Brindisi on the occasion of his proclamation as a Church teacher (Zagreb, 1959.).
Since the 1952/53 academic year he was a professor at the Catholic Theological Faculty until his retirement in 1993. Even after retiring he was ever present at the Faculty and the Institute for Theological Culture of the Laity until his death where he lectured in the Introduction of the Mystery of Christ and the History of Salvation. He lectured in dogmatism and philosophical subjects at the departments of History of Croatian Literature and History of Christian Doctrine. During his long life as a professor he taught in subjects like Christology, Patrology, the History of Dogma and Introduction into the Mystery of Christ and the History of Salvation but also in Dogmatic Theology, Philosophy and Methodology. He was the dean of the faculty for several mandates: 1969-1971, 1974-1978 and 1990-1992. With his fine legal and administrative sensitivity he largely contributed to preserving the Catholic Theological faculty even during its most difficult era in history (from 1952-1991), managing to salvage the faculty’s dignity and integrity and successfully developing and advancing its activities.
As the personal theologian to the Zagreb Archbishop after Cardinal Franjo Šeper, he lived in Rome and participated in the events of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). At the same time while in Rome, he completed an important study and research in the great controversies of early Christianity that led to enlightening the Calcedonian theological doctrine about Jesus Christ complete in God and complete in man. Other editions he published in Rome during and following the Council included: "Duo perfecta" et "duae naturae" in definitione dogmatica Chalcedonensi /"Two complete " and "Two natures " in Calcedonian Dogmatic Definition / (Rome 1964), "Deus perfectus et homo perfectus" /Complete God and Complete Man / (Rome 1965), and Problemata christologiae chalcedonensis /The Problems with Calcedonian Christology / (Rome 1969) and other studies which led to his world repute as a renown historian and Christologist of his time.
He was one of the founders of the "Glas Koncila"/Voice of the Council (1963) and "Kršćanske sadašnjosti - Centra za koncilska istraživanja, dokumentaciju i informacije" / Christianity Now – Centre for Council Research, Documents and Information (1968). Together with his colleagues he launched the "Svesci - Kršćanska sadašnjost" periodical (1966) and "Poslušni duhu" (1966).
He was the co-founder of the “Theological Society of Christianity Now” (1977), a group of reputable theologians and cultural activists and was the society’s president from its founding until 1989. He was proclaimed "pro non credentibus" by the Roman Consolatory Secretariat (1966), and of the Secretariat for the Unity of Christians (1968). He was a member of the Pontifical Theological Commission with the Congregation of Teaching the Faith in its first convening and a member of several bodies of the Croatian Conference of Bishops. He was a correspondent member of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Zagreb (from 1979) and a member of the PEN-club (from 1971).
Very early on Tomislav Šagi-Bunić realised that all spiritual renewal of faith in God amongst the people starts from the Liturgy. He dedicated his life to Liturgical renewal. From 1955, when by decree of Pope Pius XII the Liturgy was introduced on the eve of Easter, Šagi-Bunić embarked on renewing the Liturgy starting from the Easter mystery and the liturgical Easter night. He prepared a brochure of the Liturgy of Easter Night in Croatian (Rijeka 1957). He conscientiously interpreted the Liturgy of the Resurrected Christ now living. He enthused the faithful and introduced the path of the Council liturgical renewal to our Church. The Holy Eucharist, or as he liked to refer to it, encounter with Christ, for him it represented God coming down amongst people and entering man, Jesus’ friend, towards God, the theandric encounter with the divine and human in the mystery of unity around a living resurrected Christ. He tirelessly preached, often enough during the week too. His Sunday homilies were permeated with wisdom and mystery, expressed with a warm human heart.
Renewal of the Church was initiated by the Second Vatican Council, which represented a great challenge to his heart. His firth theological information about preparations for the Second Vatican Council were published in an almanac Misao i djelo (Zagreb, 1961) which he launched. He implement Council renewal and interpreted it from the pulpit of Zagreb’s cathedral for a full thirteen years (1960-1962, 1966-1977). He launched public lectures "Koncilska misao"/ Thoughts of the Council; religious encounters for the young, spiritual exercises and various other lectures.
The more significant publications in his repertoire in Croatian he highlighted the importance, freshness and messages of the Church Fathers and interpreted the thoughts and spirit of the Second Vatican Council. His publications included: Izazov starih / Challenge of the Elders (Zagreb 1972), Povijest kršćanske literature od početka do sv. Ireneja / History of Christian Literature from the Beginning to St. Irenaeus (Zagreb 1976), and Euharistija u životu Crkve kroz povijest /The Eucharist in the Life of the Church throughout History (Zagreb 1984). He collected is theological articles and in particular those concerning the Council and combined them into three volumes: Ali drugog puta nema /But there is no other way (Zagreb 1969, 1972 & 1985), and Vrijeme suodgovornosti I-II / The Time of Responsibility I-II (Zagreb 1981 & 1982).
He stood out as an engaged theological philosopher, participating even during the communist era, in significant discussions about relations between the Church and the state and Christian and Marxist and atheist ideologies. His contribution to ecumenism if quite significant in these regions. He always appeared as a man of dialogue. He was courageous but full of respect for those who thought differently, encountering and facing many difficult problems that touched on the very existence of the Church. In a society marked with atheism he aimed at differentiating man from ideology and structure. With this he certainly contributed to developing a culture of religion and theology, the growth of humanity and formation of dedicated Christian laity as well as creating a new climate in which our Church was prepared to act and participate in new democratic circumstances which it did not enter into unprepared. He gave a worthwhile contribution to theological issues during the building of Croatian statehood as well as the role of the Catholic Church in building that state. His efforts are witnessed in his many works: Crkva i domovina / The Church and the Homeland (Zagreb 1970), Katolička Crkva i hrvatski narod / The Catholic Church and the Croatian Nation (Zagreb 1983), Duhovno-moralna polazišta za budućnost Republike Hrvatske / The Spiritual Moral Starting Point for the Future of the Republic of Croatia (Zagreb 1993) and others.
In everything he confirmed his multifaceted knowledge, wisdom and original thoughts of the times that he thought of and in which he lived, be this the past, present or future. In light of theological principle in modern, social, cultural, political and religious events he disclosed the “signs of the times” – always sensitive to the emergence and development of new, deeper and newly faceted humanity. As such, he strived to live history and create history.
On 5 July 1994, the Croatian Ministry of Science and Technology awarded Tomislav Šagi-Bunić with an award for his life work and his "exceptional contribution to science and theology” with a money prize of 37,000 HRK (5, Euro). With the consent of his superiors, Šagi-Bunić donated this money on 25 July 1994 to the Croatian Government Office of Refugees and Displaced Persons.
Šagi-Bunić’s testament can be found in his last two books: "Živjeti Kristovim Duhom Svetim" / Living Christ’s Holy Spirit and "Prema izgradnji civilizacije ljubavi" / Towards Building a Civilisation of Love, a collection of his texts and thought based on St. Mathew’s Gospel about Judgement Day (Mt 25:31-46). The books were published in 1998, by "Kršćanska sadašnjost" on the occasion of marking his 75th jubilee year of his birth and the 45th anniversary of his career as a professor at the Catholic Theological Faculty in Zagreb. His very last written works are dedicated to God the Father, or rather, his commentary to the “Our Father”, which were published in 1999 in "Glas Koncil".
Tomislav Šagi-Bunić died in the early hours of 21 July 1999 in the Capuchin monastery in the Zagreb suburb of Dubrava at his desk covered with material and drafts for spiritual renewal exercises that he was to have held for his Religious confreres in Karlobag on the topic of Jesus’ words, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5: 48). In the topics that he prepared for that occasion his drafts connect the excellence of the heavenly father and God’s mercy towards man which is and remains indestructible pat to developing a civilisation of love, recognising God and man but also God in man as Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Mt 25: 40).
(Dr. prof. Zdenko Tomislav Tenšek)
Fr. Hadrijan Borak
Fr. Hadrijan Borak (Radovec Križovljanski, 14 November 1915 - Zagreb, 4 March 1993). He was baptised Franjo. He completed primary school in Radovec Križovljanski and high school in Varaždin. He entered the Capuchin Order on 14 August 1934 in Škofja Loka, and studied Theology at the Major Capuchin Theological School from 1936 to 1941. He was ordained a priest in Ljubljana on 7 July 1940. In the autumn of 1941, he continued studying Philosophy at the Gregoriana Pontifical University in Rome and in 1944 obtained a Doctorate in Philosophy with a thesis entitled Relations between Non-materiality and Realisation with St. Thomas. That same year he enrolled to study Church history and in 1946 was awarded a licentiate in that subject. That year he was appointed a professor in the St. Lawrence of Brindisi Capuchin international college where for eighteen years (from 1951-1952 and 1953-1970) he held the office of prefect. For many years he served at the St. Jerome Croatian institute as a spiritualist. From 1961 – 1970 he was a professor of Franciscan Philosophy at the Lateranum Pontifical University and also lectured at the Antoniaunum Pontifical University between 1969 and 1970. He was a member of the Italian Philosophical Society, the secretary of the Scotistic Society and together with Franciscan, Karl Balić, they organised several Scotistic international conferences (Oxford & Edinburgh 1966 and Vienna in 1970).
In 1970 he returned to Croatia and in July that year he was elected as provincial for the Croatian Capuchin Province for one mandate. That same year he was elected as the president of the Conference of Higher Religious Superiors of Yugoslavia and held that office until 1973. He was elected as the president of the Slavic-Hungarian Conference of the Capuchin Order where in 1973 and until his death he held the office of the Conference’s secretary. From 1973, he was a member of the secretariat of the Conference of Higher Religious Superiors of Yugoslavia and held that office until 1990. He was the vice president of the Council of Franciscan Communities until 27 January 1992.
He organised two symposiums on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the death of St. Francis in Zagreb in 1976 and on the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis in Split in 1982. He organised a conference in honour of St. Bonaventura in Zagreb in 1974 and prepared a collection of papers from the conference entitled: Objava i teologija / Proclamation and Theology. He prepared and partially translated several publications: Crkva redovnicima / The Church to the Religious, Zagreb, 1974; Svjetovni instituti, crkveni dokumenti / Secular Institute, Church Documents, Zagreb, 1983; Redovnička pravila / Rules of the Religious, Zagreb, 1985; Novo pravo ustanova posvećenog života - Zbornik radova X Redovničkog tjedna / New Rights of Institutions of Religious Life – Collection of Papers from the X Week of the Religious, Zagreb, 1991. He worked in translating the Canon codex. The last work by this monk was to prepare a collection of writings by St. Leopold Bogdan Mandić, Zagreb, 1992.
Until the end of his life he worked hard to prepare a Franciscan biographical lexicon. He searched for associates and he himself collected material about the Capuchin monks amongst the Croats so that they would not be forgotten to history.
Written research works by Hadrijan Borak deal with the field of Franciscan Philosophy and History. He studied St. Bonaventura, bl. Duns Scot and St. Lawrence of Brindisi. He was one of the authors of a critical edition of the works of bl. Duns Scot from 1960 - 1965. The majority of his works were published in the Capuchin scientific review Laurentianum, and he himself was one of the founders of this periodical in 1960. His other works were published in reputable periodicals: Analecta Gregoriana, Collectanea Franciscana, Antonianum, Études Franciscaines, Wissenschaft und Weisheit, Quderni di spiritualita franciscana, Miscellanea Franciscana, Bogoslovskoj smotri, Kačić.
Of his apostolic activities, Hadrijan Borak was especially deserved for his efforts to the cause of saints for Fr. Ante Antić, and on 17. XI. 1974 he was delegated as a judge at the court in the procedure for this Servant of God. Hadrijan’s apostolic love was Religious life, particular Religious Women. As an assistant to the Higher Religious Superiors, he presided several provincial capitules, prepared and translated and corrected the Constitutions of many Congregations and communities; he held several sessions of spiritual renewal exercises both for Men and Women Religious Communities.
(Dr. prof. Zdenko Tomislav Tenšek)