Prior to the encounter, there was a Eucharistic Vigil, entitled the March of Light, in the ancient shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Solin. In the sermon, Bishop Mate Uzinić of Dubrovnik, President of the Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops for Life and the Family, spoke about self-giving as the key word for understanding the logic of the Beatitudes but also for understanding "how, by living in accordance with that logic, we can make the data entered on our Christian and family ID correspond to reality."
Split, (IKA) – On eve of a major religious and national event, the Third National Encounter of Croatian Catholic Families, an extensive spiritual and cultural program was organized. Roundtable discussions were held on the topic of the Challenges of Contemporary Families in the Milesi Palace in Split; a collection of children’s works, In My Mother’s Embrace, was presented at the Archdiocesan Seminary in Split; and performances of The Legend of Miljenko and Dobrila and The Ugly Duckling were held at the Split Puppet Theater.
In all the parishes of the Archdiocese of Split-Makarska, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament was held on Thursday, September 13. Prayers were said for all families and for the fruits of the Third National Encounter of Croatian Catholic Families. On Friday, September 14, several thousand people from Split and elsewhere gathered at the Split waterfront for a two-hour humanitarian concert, Families for the Littlest Ones, to raise money for the purchase of an endoscopy column to be used in surgical procedures on newborns and children at the Department of Pediatric Surgery, Clinical Hospital Center of Split. The concert was broadcast live by Croatian Television and telephone lines for making donations will be kept open in order to raise the needed 620,000 HRK by October 1.
On Saturday, September 15, the eve of the main day of the Third National Encounter of Croatian Catholic Families, during the morning a children’s concert was held at the Split waterfront and in the evening a Eucharistic vigil, entitled March of Light, was held at the ancient shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Solin. Prayer was led by Archbishop Marin Barišić of Split-Makarska, and the homily was delivered by Bishop Mate Uzinić of Dubrovnik, the President of the Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops for Life and the Family. Eighteen (arch)bishops were assembled at the vigil, led by the President of the Croatian Council of Bishops, Archbishop Želimir Puljić of Zadar, as well as numerous provincials and priests. Greetings by the host, Archbishop Barišić, were followed by readings of the Word of God and testimonies.
Biskup Uzinić spoke about self-giving as the key word for understanding the logic of the Beatitudes but also for understanding “how, by living in accordance with that logic, we can make the data entered on our Christian and family ID correspond to reality.” “Without self-giving, as a new value in accordance with the logic of the Beatitudes, in our Church and nation the number of marriages will continue to decrease and the number of divorces will increase. From year to year, people will be marrying later in life. Without self-giving, as the fundamental characteristic of bliss, no law or demographic policy can help us change the trend of the demographic extinction of our nation and embark on the path of the demographic renewal of the homeland,” said the President of the Council of the Croatian Conference of Bishops for Life and the Family, adding that without self-giving, there cannot be a husband or father, a wife or mother, a grandfather or grandmother. Without self-giving, unwounded families are not possible, while wounded families become even more vulnerable, cautioned Bishop Uzinić.
However, with self-giving, everything can be different. It changes us personally, makes it possible for us to assume our responsibilities toward others in a new way and serve one another lovingly in our interfamilial relationships. Self-giving will enable our Croatian Catholic families to live in accordance with the logic of the Beatitudes and for the Beatitudes to become an ID, which, according to its data and picture, corresponds to the reality that it represents. Self-giving is the only thing that can help us stop the negative trend that denies life to some and forces others to leave the homeland, so that we can embark upon a new and positive direction, said Bishop Uzinić.
He concluded that self-giving could make it possible for our families to become again what they had been throughout our entire history, as expressed by the motto of the Third National Encounter of Croatian Catholic Families in Split and Solin: Family: The Source of Life and Joy! The prayer vigil concluded with the blessing of the Most Holy Sacrament.
The initiative for the National Encounter of Croatian Catholic Families, which is organized every three years by the Office of the Croatian Conference of Bishops for Life and the Family and by the (arch)diocesan host, was accepted at the Special Session of the Croatian Conference of Bishops in January 2010. The first encounter, with the motto Together in Christ, was held on June 5, 2011, at the Zagreb Hippodrome, with Pope Benedict XVI presiding. The second was held on April 19, 2015, at the shrine of Trsat in Rijeka, with the motto The Family: Bearer of Life, Hope and the Future of Croatia.
For the occasion of the First National Encounter of Croatian Catholic Families, June 5, 2011, a metal votive memorial candle was cast in Zagreb that symbolizes the union of Croatian Catholic families with the Risen One. The symbols and construction of the candle and the candlestick that holds it express belief in Christ and fidelity to the Catholic Church, linking the past, present and future of the Croatian nation and Croatian families.
It is a votive candle because it renews the vow made by the Croatian Catholic families in Nin in commemoration of the oath of allegiance to the Pope taken by King Demetrius Zvonimir thirteen centuries ago, when a permanent motto was accepted, The Croatian Catholic Family Prays Every Day and Celebrates Mass on Sunday.