The earthquake that hit Zagreb on 22 March 2020 shocked us and left us speechless. The realisation that the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was also heavily damaged made our hearts shrivel even more. Many tears have fallen when Christians saw the collapsed ceiling, the damaged apse around the main altar, and especially the broken cross on the ground of the sanctuary. The famous galleries of the basilica were also severely damaged, as well as the choir and the church towers. Those who have experienced the basilica in its full glory must feel a strong urge to help in any way possible after seeing it in its current wounded form.
The death of the young Anamarija Carević reverberated even more strongly and touched the hearts of the Croatian people. Those of us who knew her know how active she was in the parish, how kind to everyone who met her, a true role model for her peers as a daughter and as a friend, but also as a Catholic who lived her faith in her everyday life.
Through our joint commitment to the restoration of the Basilica, an idea was born to form a foundation which would help our endeavours. This foundation would not only help the restoration of the Basilica, but enable the realisation of another great project: the building of a pastoral centre which would carry the name of Anamarija Carević. The pastoral centre will therefore be a reminder of her life in this parish. To those who know her “only” as the first victim of the Zagreb earthquake, this centre will give the opportunity to become familiar with her ideals and her way of life. We can only hope that we are worthy of her purity and the mission she had started in this parish. Encouraged by her legacy, we hope to build a pastoral centre which will become a place of refuge for the youth, where they will be surrounded by the pastoral care of the Society of Jesus and where their initiatives based on spreading our faith and the Gospel will be supported.
We received the Decision on the Establishment of the Foundation on 29 October 2020. A donations account was created and we started to plan the initial activities. The activities completed so far can be found in the section “History of the Foundation”, and the planned activities in the section “The Future of the Foundation”. As the donated funds are put to use to restore the basilica and build the pastoral centre, the section “Realized with your help” will be expanded as well.
We sincerely and deeply thank you for your contributions, in the name of all the Christians who will come to the basilica in the future, and in the name of the youth who will be able to grow as humans and as Christians through the activities in our pastoral centre.
father Stipo Balatinac, Foundation manager/director of the Foundation
As the rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus I greet the formation of the Foundation for the restoration of the basilica. I would also like to thank a group of enthusiasts, lay parishioners, friends of the basilica, who have “birthed” this Foundation (literally, because the idea came from their hearts) and who continue to carry it with their engagement and commitment. Besides the restoration of the basilica itself, the sacrifice of our young parishioner Anamarija Carević gave us the strength to do more after the devastating earthquake which damaged the basilica heavily - it gave us the incentive to build a pastoral centre worthy of the restored beauty of the basilica and the apostolate under its wing. This centre of encounters will carry the name of the only victim of the Zagreb earthquake, Anamarija Carević. I hereby thank her parents for their permission and cooperation. The centre will be a permanent remembrance of Anamarija and an inspiration for children and youth. The centre will make the basilica a second home for the children just as our basilica was Anamarija’s second home, it will be a place where they are always welcome, where they can grow as humans and as Christians, and where they can actively participate in building a better world relying on the values promoted by the Gospel. This centre will also offer room for other groups of lay Christians, our seniors (grandfathers and grandmothers), fathers and mothers, artists, athletes and many Catholic associations and prayer groups inspired by Ignatian spirituality. I expect that lay Christians and other citizens will recognize the value of this undertaking and support it for the good of all Christians and citizens of this city, the very centre of Croatia and the Croatian Church. A great task lies before us, but it will also be a great joy to complete it to the glory of the Heart of Jesus and for the benefit and greater good of everyone. “Unless the Lord builds a house, They who build it labor in vain” (Psalms, 127,1). Let therefore God’s blessing and reward be with everyone who contributes to this goal.
father Ivan Matić, treasurer