Hvar, (IKA) – On Monday, April 30, the episcopal ordination of Msgr. Petar Palić began with a solemn procession of Croatian archbishops and bishops, accompanied by the tolling of bells from the episcopal palace to the cathedral of St. Stephen I, Pope and Martyr, in Hvar, and the entrance antiphon Gospodin slavno uskrsnu (The Lord Has Risen in Glory), sung by the cathedral choir. The principal consecrator was the President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Želimir Puljić of Zadar, and the co-consecrators were the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Hvar, Msgr. Slobodan Štambuk, and the Bishop of Dubrovnik, Msgr. Mate Uzinić. The participants in the Eucharistic celebration of the episcopal ordination included the Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Croatia, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto; the Apostolic Nuncio to Berlin, Archbishop Nikola Eterović; the Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus to Belarusa, Archbishop Martin Vidović; Archbishop Cardinal Vinko Puljić of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo); and archbishops and metropolitan bishops of the Church among the Croats: Archbishop Đuro Hranić of Đakovo-Osijek, Archbishop Ivan Devčić of Rijeka and Archbishop and Metropolitan Marin Barišić of Split-Makarska. The co-celebrants included bishops from Croatia and other countries, and numerous diocesan and religious priests.
Msgr. Palić was escorted to the altar by Msgr. Nikola Dučkić, the former pastor of the bishop-elect’s native parish, and by the Rev. Mario Migles, pastor of the Parish of All Saints in Sesvete. The rites of the liturgical celebration were explained at the beginning by the pastor of the Parish of St. Nicholas in Komiža, the Rev. Ivica Huljev, while the assisting priests were the parish vicar in Hvar, the Rev. Ivan Jurin; and the pastor of the Parish of the Assumption of Mary in Vis, the Rev. Milan Šarić. The first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah was read by a catechist in the Diocese of Hvar, Marijeta Radić, and the second reading from the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians was read by another catechist from Hvar, Zoran Sansović. The Gospel reading was chanted by Deacon Toni Aviani of the Diocese of Hvar. The Rev. Stanko Jerčić, heretofore the Vicar General of the Diocese of Hvar, addressed Archbishop Puljić with the request to ordain the priest Petar as a bishop of the local Church. The Apostolic Nuncio to Croatia, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, and the First Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciate, Msgr. Janusz Stanislaw Blachowiak, read the Apostolic Letter on the episcopal ordination. Then the Nuncio showed the Papal Bull to those assembled.
“Dear Petar, when I received the announcement of your appointment as the Bishop of Hvar in early March, I sent you congratulations with the wish that you would place all your concerns and trust in the One who leads everyone and manages everything. Along the well trodden paths of your honorable predecessors, Slobodan, Celestin, Fulgence and others, there are sufficient signposts for your journey. In addition, there are many who will accompany you with their prayers: from priests, male and female religious, to the devoted lay faithful of this honorable diocese. As I gratefully thank your predecessor, Msgr. Slobodan Štambuk, for all the good he has done at the level not only of this three-island diocese but also throughout our homeland and beyond, I congratulate you on the confidence that has been shown in you and I want the Lord to bless and keep you. May Christ, who called you from the womb of your mother, Zora, fill you with joy, courage and gratitude,” said Archbishop Puljić during the homily.
He also said that for every spiritual vocation, we say that it belongs in the area of the “Mystery of Faith,” “Gift and Mystery,” and he particularly mentioned the testimony about the Rev. Petar by Pastor Dučkić, who directed the new bishop to the seminary and today escorted him to the altar. “The joy ensuing from the ordination of the new bishop is felt and shared by many,” said the principal consecrator during the sermon, “from the priests and faithful of this diocese to which you have been sent, your native Janjevo and its people throughout Croatia, and the Diocese of Dubrovnik where you served until recently. Your late father, Antun, who is watching and praying for this celebration from the heavenly heights, is also rejoicing. The assembled archbishops and bishops are rejoicing, for whom you faithfully and devotedly served as general secretary. Many of your friends and colleagues, from both Croatia and other countries, have come to give you spiritual support with their presence and prayers. In this significant act of prayerful presence, we hear the echo of history, as expressed in God’s words of encouragement to our patriarch Abraham: “Do not fear, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great” (Gen 15:1). “Do not fear, Israel, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine (Isa 43:1). “Do not be terrified on account of them … for I am with you” (Jer 1:17–19).
These are the incentives and encouragement that the Holy Spirit is also sending you today, dear Petar, so that you will not fear your weaknesses when God is calling. Commend yourself completely to his Providence, without hesitation, and he will lead you. You will be able to do everything in the One who sustains and strengthens you,” said Archbishop Puljić.
He explained the office of bishop, comparing it with the role of St. Joseph, because bishops are called to be faithful and wise fathers and guardians of the diocesan family. “In ancient times, they called them ‘angels of the Church,’ like those described in John’s Revelation. Namely, angels stand before the face of God and pray abundantly for entrusted souls. Thus, a bishop has to be a man of prayer who commends his flock to God and intercedes for them,” said Archbishop Puljić, and added: “Through analysis of the texts in the Gospel according to Matthew, in which Jesus describes how the servants to whom the Lord entrusts duties should be, we discover three essential qualities that an ordained person should possess. These are faithfulness in the stewardship of the treasures entrusted to him and wisdom that does not judge according to desires and passions but seeks to reveal the truth, even when it is unpleasant. And the third quality by which Jesus describes his faithful servant is goodness. ‘Good and faithful servant, … come share your master’s joy’ (Mt 25:21–23).” “The one, then, on whom hands are placed, has to be a man of God, a man of prayer, faithful, devout, prudent and good. And his soul should be constantly open to God because he knows that every good gift comes from him,” summarized Archbishop Puljić, and said: “In a world of uncertainty and confusion, a bishop has to be the one who fights, guides and enlightens. To enlighten has a special significance on the island and city that the ancient Greeks called a lighthouse, ‘Pharos.’ The Bishop of ‘Pharos’ has the task of being a lighthouse that guides and illuminates.” “As a successor to the apostles, a bishop through the power of the holy order becomes the visible principle and guarantee of the unity of the particular Church. And he, like a participant in the Alka Knights’ Tournament in Sinj, needs ‘a sharp eye and steady hand.’ This is vividly expressed by comparisons from the Holy Scriptures that describe the office of bishops as a shepherd, fisherman, guard, guardian, father, brother, friend, comforter and teacher. Each of these images has its own weight, significance and characteristics. Particularly striking is the role of the guard, who watches over and notices everything that occurs …,” explained Archbishop Puljić, who said that as a teacher of faith and morals, a bishop is not only a leader and liturgist. He is also a public witness of the gospel who testifies to what he believes, makes judgments and in an appropriate manner proposes what is to be believed. In cases of apostasy, he must fearlessly assume the role of prophet and must responsibly and courageously proclaim the Christian truths and values. While he goes with the heart of a good shepherd to seek what is lost, he will not hesitate to speak about the “false and seductive ideologies that spread half-truths about man and the world.” “With the same attitude of clarity and courage, he will call attention to and warn about the processes of unwholesome and unacceptable ideas and views that can even occur among the ranks of the faithful. Therefore, let us direct our souls toward heaven and pray courageously and fervently for the new Bishop Petar and let us hope that like ‘a soldier of Christ, a knight of God,’ he may be up to the tasks that the Church entrusts to him today. Therefore, the liturgy encourages and invites all of us who have come to attend this mysterious event to participate together devoutly in the holy rite of ordination.”
At the end of the homily, the President of the Croatian Conference of Bishops concluded: “This mysterious event is a gift to Fr. Petar and his Diocese of Hvar. We pray that he may be, in return, a generous gift to God, the Church and the people entrusted to this honorable Diocese of Hvar. May the Lord who called him and chose him fulfill to the end what he began with Petar’s Baptism in Janjevo in the year 1972.”
The homily was followed by the bishop-elect’s promise to keep the faith and perform his duties. The central rite of the episcopal ordination began with the pledge by the bishop-elect to remain within the Order of Bishops, addressed to the principal consecrator, Archbishop Puljić. While the bishop-elect prostrated himself before the altar of the cathedral in Hvar, the congregation sang the Litany of the Saints. The bishop-elect then approached the principal consecrator, Archbishop Puljić, who laid his hands on the bishop-elect’s head, as did the co-consecrators and the assembled archbishops and bishops. Archbishop Puljić placed an open evangelistary on the head of the bishop-elect while offering the Prayer of Consecration. Then Msgr. Palić’s head was anointed with Sacred Chrism, which had been blessed on Easter Wednesday in the Parish of the Holy Spirit in Vrbanj on the island of Hvar. Bishop Palić then received the symbols of the episcopal office. The ring placed on the ring finger of his right hand, a gift from the faithful of Janjevo, was manufactured by the firm of Dodić in Zagreb. The miter was a gift from the Parish of Pope St. John XXIII in Zagreb, while the crosier or pastoral staff was a gift from the priests of the Diocese of Hvar. Archbishop Puljić led the newly ordained bishop to the Episcopal seat, followed by the exchange of the kiss of peace between Bishop Palić and all the other bishops present.
During the Offertory, a chunk of ore from a mine in Janjevo, which throughout history has been known for its rich mines, was presented by Anton Palić, the bishop’s nephew, and young girls from Janjevo and Kistanje. Bread and wine were offered by representatives of the confraternities of St. Nicholas and the Holy Cross from Hvar.
At the end of the celebration of the Mass, there were speeches in honor of the occasion. The first was delivered by Archbishop and Metropolitan Marin Barišić of Split-Makarska. He thanked Bishop Štambuk for the “cooperation and friendship that he instilled among us pastors of the Split Ecclesiastical Territory: “I wish you calm waters and long sail on the sea of life.”
“Little brother Bishop Petar, on behalf of the suffragan brother bishops of our Metropolis, we exclaim: welcome!,” continued Metropolitan Archbishop Barišić. “Your appointment is first of all a joy for the faithful and priests of what is now your Diocese of Hvar, and also a joy and source of pride for the people of Janjevo, your relatives and all the people of Letnica. Many of them are here today among us and I am sure that they constantly accompany you with their prayers. May your priestly experience, pastor’s competence and pastoral freshness be a blessing for all us bishops, priests, male and female religious, and the faithful, not only of this diocese but the entire Metropolitan Archdiocese of Split,” said Archbishop Barišić, and concluded: “Blessed are you who come to us in the name of the Lord!”
On behalf of the priests of the Diocese of Hvar and the male and female religious, Fr. Toni Plenković, Dean of the Deanery of Brač, greeted the newly ordained Bishop Petar Palić, after first expressing gratitude to Bishop Emeritus Slobodan Štambuk, recalling that Bishop Štambuk had begun his ministry in this local Church, which ends today, twenty-nine years ago on the same date: “Thank you for all the good that this diocese has received through your efforts, for which it is grateful. You guided us to God and joined us to Him. May He grant you the grace to live a long time in well-deserved tranquility and may all the people of the island Church accompany you with their prayers.” To the newly ordained Bishop Palić, Dean Plenković said: “Dear Bishop Petar! Today our journey together begins. Welcome!” He also pointed out the many factors that make this diocese specific, from geographic to pastoral. “With you we want to continue to build the Kingdom of God on these islands, following His example, aware that the Church … lives only from the power of the Spirit which we receive from our living relationship with Him!” concluded Dean Plenković, promising the new bishop “support in the challenges that this office places before you.”
Anna Sansović, on behalf of the faithful, welcomed Bishop Palić, thanking God for this blessing and wishing the new bishop “much patience and love” in his work.
Bishop Emeritus Slobodan Štambuk of the Diocese of Hvar-Brač-Vis also addressed the newly ordained Bishop Petar Palić with words of encouragement at the beginning of his ministry. First he prayed to God for this diocese to remain faithful to Him and His plans, for it not to lose even a tiny bit of his history. “Petar, let’s be fishers of men!” said Bishop Štambuk, adding that it is not easy to catch people. “Seize the rudder courageously,” he told him, enumerating the islands of the Diocese of Hvar. He wished him a calming of the sea and a good wind. “And do not forget, you are Petar, and may the faith of the faithful of our nation rest on that faith,” he said, and encouraged him to cast his net on both the right and left sides.
In conclusion, the newly ordained Bishop of Hvar said to all those assembled: “I am Petar, your brother,” and commended himself to their prayers and requested their cooperation.
The Mass, which was simultaneously broadcast by Channel Two of Croatian Radio-Television (HRT2) and Croatian Catholic Radio (HKR), was enhanced by the Mixed Cathedral Choir of St. Cecilia, the Mixed Janjevo Choir of Zagreb, and the Parish Choir of St. Cecilia from Kistanje. The episcopal ordination was attended by many thousands of the faithful, who completely filled St. Stephen’s Square in Hvar and attended the Mass via live video.