2. 11. 2005
Hrvatski oltar mučeništva za Dan Mrtvih 2005. - Marko Puljić - Vidić iz SAD-a : Parish of Victims
Engleska verzija teksta "Župa Stradalica" ("Parish of Victims") autora Marka Puljića - Vidića iz SAD-a. Marku iskreno hvala. (Marku Puljiću - Vidiću se ispričavamo zbog pogrešno napisanog imena u prvoj verziji ovoga teksta. Grešku smo sada ispravili)
Parish of Victims
Many parishes suffered in this war throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, from the well-known: Kraljeva Sutjeska, Derventa, Fojnica, to the lesser-known: Bijeljina, Nevesinje, Kljuc and Stjepan Kriz.
Map of the parish.
Stjepan Kriz was mentioned many times during the war as a chetnik [Serb extremists] area from where they frequently attacked Croatian villages and Croatian forces around Stolac. Many people who are not from this region do not know that Stjepan Kriz was the seat of a Catholic parish, and that in the village and its surroundings, lived a Croatian majority.
This article was written so that people who have roots from this region and who are interested in learning about this area or have visited the parish do not forget it.
The parish of Stjepan Kriz is part of the Trebinje-Mrkanj diocese. Before the war, Stjepan Kriz was part of the Stolac municipality. It is located north of Stolac, in between Stolac, Mostar and Nevesinje. The parish is comprised of the villages of Ljubljenica, Donji and Gornji Brstanik, Stjepan Kriz and the Croatian part of the village of Dabrica, where the muslims are in the majority. The parish was founded February 8, 1974, at the request of many locals, because it was too far to go to the parish in Rotimlja, which they were then a part of. The parish was dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The newly formed parish had 661 fathful in 1980 and around 500 in 1991.
Twenty years later, thais young parish found itself in the midst of war. The chetniks began the aggression on Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991 with the destruction of Ravno and its surrounding Croatian villages. The Croatian population in the Stolac and Neum municipalities were next in line. In the beginning of April 1992, Stjepan Kriz fell to the Serbian conquerers. One portion of the population moved out, and one portion stayed in the parish. Several local Croatians were taken to a camp in Bileca. The Croatian villages were robbed and destroyed. Because Stjepan Kriz is located on a large plateau above the greater part of the Stolac municiplaity, the chetniks dig into this strategic area, from which they controlled everything beneath it.
The parish church before the war.
Stolac and its surrounding areas were liberated in June 1992. In several attempts, Stjepan Kriz was to be liberated but sadly, every time was a failure with heavy casualties. The politicians had already designated a border that gave the entire parish and its villages to the Serb Republic. They could not successfully preserve the border from the Croatian Banovina of 1939, which included the parish. There has been much speculation as to why these villages have remained in the Serb Republic - from the uninterest of the local politicians to Croatian interests. Stjepan Kriz thus remained a few kilometers behind Serb lines from which the bombing of Croatian areas continued.
The Dayton Agreement disappointed many of the parish's faithful. Instead of having the Serbs withdraw from this strategic area, the parish of Stjepan Kriz became a part of the Serbian entity. The first parishoners came back to Stjepan Kriz in 1996, to visit the parish and the cemetaries. They found destroyed and abandoned villages. The newly built church was also leveled to its foundations. It was also a time to hold Mass for the first time after the war. From then on, people gone more frequently to visit their homes especially for the Day of the Dead and All Saints' Day, when Mass is held in the cemetaries for the eternal rest of the dead.
The parish church today.
The parishoners of this parish continue to wait for their return, or when they can celebrate Mass in a liberated Stjepan Kriz.
This is a revised version of an article that appeared an Matica issue 4, 1998.